Pokemon Remake Day-One Patch Reminds Us That Games Are Hard to Make

Game development often exceeds a release date.

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl are out next week, but the game’s first patch is going live a little bit earlier than its November 19 release date. It’s bringing some substantial (and kind of silly) parts of the main game that will be otherwise unavailable without it. This update will be part of the initial game download if you’re buying the game digitally, but you’ll need to download the 3GB update before you start playing a physical copy of either game if you want large swaths of the remakes to be accessible.

The patch will go live on the eShop tomorrow, November 11, which is good news to anyone who managed to get the game early through stores breaking street date. And it brings with it some pretty significant parts of Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl. This includes the Grand Underground, Super Contest Show, Union Room, and Mystery Gift features. This means some Pokemon that are only available in the Grand Underground won’t be part of the game until the patch is downloaded. But features like it and the Super Contest Show, which is some pretty substantial side content, will also be missing out of the box. Union Room and Mystery Gift are online features, so they likely wouldn’t have been accessible without the patch even if they were on the Switch card, to begin with.

The post-game content is also rolling out as part of the patch, including the recently-announced Ramanas Park that lets you capture Legendary Pokemon not in the main story. The update also brings a few, well, smaller but kind of silly things. Including some cutscenes and animations that you won’t see without it, such as the opening title screen animation and the ending cutscene. Which uh, are pretty important to a complete experience. But you should probably have the patch downloaded well before you need to see the ending cutscene.

As for the Union Room, the game will require an update to use online features, but at the time of the patch, there will only be options to battle and trade with one other player at a time. According to the patch notes, a post-launch update will raise the maximum number of players, as well as add greetings and capsule decoration. Also coming post-launch is the Global Wonder Station in Jubilife City, and the Colosseum feature within Pokemon Centers.

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It’s a lot of content that’s not going to be installed on the actual cartridges. But it’s also indicative of the state of game development in the digital age. So much of the base experience is being touched up even in the days and weeks leading up to launch, which requires teams like Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl developer ILCA to put content meant to be experienced as part of the initial experience out via a patch. And if some of this content is coming in hot, it can sometimes result in large swaths of the game not being on the disc or cartridge that has to be manufactured and in retailers’ hands weeks before it’s actually going on the shelves.

Depending on where you live, a 3GB update might not be a huge deal, but in some rural areas, that’s at least a few hours of waiting for the game to be ready to play. Living in the boonies with garbage internet has meant I spend a lot of my time on launch days waiting for a game to update, even if I buy a physical copy. It’s easy to point fingers at ILCA for shipping something “incomplete,” but that’s just not the reality of what’s happening here, or happening with most games that need a day-one patch to make sure everything clicks together or put the breadth of content intended for launch. Games have to ship to stores long before they’re finished, and day-one patches are often a necessary evil in the process. But if you’re planning on getting Brilliant Diamond or Shining Pearl digitally, plan accordingly.

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Kenneth Shepard

Kenneth is a Staff Writer at Fanbyte. He still periodically cries about the Mass Effect trilogy years after it concluded.

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