Nintendo’s V1.13 patch of Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, the remakes of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, adds a whole host of minor fixes and a few new things to the games, including the previously unknown “Grand Underground Railroad” feature, an expansion to the previous Grand Underground.
Originally, the Grand Underground only allowed players to dig up walls for fossils, shards, and other items, or catch a wide variety of Pokémon in Hideaways. The new Grand Underground Railroad addition now puts players smack in the middle of an intense war of ideology where they can choose to either assist the freeing of Pokémon from their status as slaves by joining the northern Unovan cause, or stay a member of the Pokémon-catching Sinnoh south and crack down on the fugitive Pokémon and trainers.
“Pokémon has always been a morally-grey series. There’s this tension between the very positive portrayal of capturing Pokémon as a friend for life that the games tend to reinforce, and the very negative treatment of competitive Pokémon trainers who abandon any Pokémon that aren’t perfect and push them to extremes for strength rather than for friendship. We wanted to play with this tension while drawing on the very real history of America on which the Unova region is based,” said director Yuichi Ueda.
The first time a player enters the Grand Underground after the patch is downloaded, they must choose whether to fight for Pokémon freedom with N or help Cyrus keep Pokémon in Sinnoh. If you choose to side with N, you can set up your Secret Base as a safe stop on the Grand Underground Railroad for huddled Pokémon on their way north. Players on the Unovan side can use all sorts of ball capsule stickers to act as a sign that their Secret Base is safe, and can leave healing items like Sitrus Berries for Pokémon heading north. They may also take a more active role in getting Pokémon north by personally escorting them through the maze-like Grand Underground past all the traps set by Sinnoh supporters.
For those who view Pokémon as tools for battle, they can join the Sinnoh faction and redesign their Secret Base to try and entrap the fleeing Pokémon. Imitating the sticker designs for safe spots on the Grand Underground Railroad and then putting Alert Traps, Reverse Traps, Flame Orbs, or the dreaded Warp Trap can do a lot to slow down and prevent the resistance from having their way. If being more active in crackdown is what you’re into, you can roam the Grand Underground in the hope of intercepting would-be fleers and sending them back via force using your own Pokémon.
“In order to up the tension of this new mechanic, we’ve put a hard cap on the number of Pokémon available across all copies of Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. When all of a species of Pokémon are smuggled to Unova via the Grand Underground Railroad, that’s it–that type of Pokémon is effectively extinct in Sinnoh. We hope you enjoy the excitement of being the last line of defense keeping Empoleons in Sinnoh or being the miracle worker that frees them all,” said the other director of Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl, Junichi Masuda. “And just so you know, this cap will prevent importing Pokémon from Pokémon Home into BDSP, so think quite hard before choosing a side. Have fun!”
Fugitive Pokeman trainers? Who knew?