Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl Version Exclusives: What are the differences?

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl are here. Do you know what else is here? Yet another round of a question that's been bugging players for a quarter of a century and counting — which version should I get?

As veteran fans know, most Pokemon games tend to split Pokedex content between versions. This can frequently result in players taking wildly different teams through the main game. Similarly, many of your most important trade requests are dictated by what you've got versus what your friends (or online strangers) have in return.

The exclusives effect pretty much everything you'd imagine across both Diamond and Pearl; it'll impact the Pokemon found in the Grand Underground including the fossil Pokemon, and Pokemon spawning through fishing, for instance. What it won't impact is the Gym Leaders and their teams, unlike in Pokemon Sword & Shield.

We'll break down Pokemon BDSP version differences cleanly and concisely so that you can choose between brilliance and shininess. Which is, in fact, a word. Even if it sounds like it shouldn't be. You can either hit a link to go straight there, or just get to scrolling:


Pokemon Brilliant Diamond Version Exclusives

Here's a list of every Pokemon that only owners of Brilliant Diamond can catch, much to the chagrin of Shining Pearl players the world over. Just remember, you can always trade for them!

Regular Exclusives

  • Caterpie, Metapod, and Butterfree. The first half of those "OG" three-stage Bug-type lines from all the way back in Kanto. Butterfree can learn a good deal of status-inflicting moves.
  • Ekans and Arbok. Poison fans (and Team Rocket fans?) take note.
  • Growlithe and Arcanine. Arcanine has a terrific Attack stat. It's also a dog. Dogs rule.
  • Seel and Dewgong. Solid choice for an Ice-type if you're in need of one.
  • Scyther and Scizor. Sinnoh has no shortness of Steel types, but Scizor is admittedly pretty awesome.
  • Murkrow and Honchkrow. Excellent Dark-type duology right here.
  • Gligar and Gliscor. Gliscor is, perhaps surprisingly, fantastic in the online meta.
  • Kecleon. Well, it makes funny noises? There's that?
  • Elekid, Electabuzz, and Electivire. If Sinnoh's native Luxray line doesn't interest you but you still want Electrics, this is your best shot.
  • Larvitar, Pupitar, and Tyranitar. For our money, this is Shining Diamond's biggest advantage. Tyranitar has been a menace for over 20 years.
  • Seedot, Nuzleaf, and Shiftry. Grass/Dark is kind of a cool typing combination.
  • Mawile. Look at the size of that thing's mouth. It's too bad BDSP doesn't have Megas, because Mega-Mawile is a monster.
  • Zangoose. Its bark is bigger than its bite, but we still don't want to meet it in a back alley at three in the morning.
  • Solrock. If you had an addiction to Pokemon Sun and UltraSun, maybe add this to your team?
  • Cranidos and Rampardos. Of the obligatory fossil Pokemon exclusives, Rampardos is the more offensively oriented.
  • Stunky and Skuntank. Skuntank's Smogon tier is "PU." Which is funny. But seriously, there are worse Dark-type picks out there than this one.

Legendary Exclusives in Brilliant Diamond

  • Dialga. The biggest difference between versions of Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl is the outcome of a certain event at the climax of the story. This change is reflected by which of the two box legendaries you encounter. Between them, Dialga is often considered superior in battle, but don't discount Palkia's speed.
  • Ho-Oh. It's a firebird. A phoenix. That's rad. Also, it boasts superb Attack and Special Defense stats.
  • Raikou, Entei, and Suicune. Johto's "legendary dog" trio is stronger than what Shining Pearl gets (the "legendary bird" trio) overall, with Suicune being especially prime.

Pokemon Shining Pearl Version Exclusives

Meanwhile, Shining Pearl has its own share of neat species. Will Brilliant Diamond purchasers look on with envy? That's a case-by-case basis, so take a gander and decide for yourself!

Regular Exclusives

  • Weedle, Kakuna, and Beedrill. The other half of Kanto's most prolific Bug-types. Beedrill eschews stat debuffs for raw power.
  • Sandshrew and Sandslash. Sandslash may be outclassed by others of its Ground-type ilk these days, but with the right setup, it can still work Earthquake-related wonders.
  • Vulpix and Ninetales. Arcanine not your cup of tea? How about something cuter?
  • Slowpoke, Slowbro, and Slowking. Bulkier than Dewgong, but lacking in Ice-type STAB (Same Type Attack Bonus).
  • Pinsir. Another instance where a lack of Megas does some damage. Mega-Pinsir is borderline-uber online. Pinsir? Well, he's OK.
  • Misdreavus and Mismagius. Shining Pearl trades quirky Dark-type birds for adorable Ghost-type... ghosts.
  • Teddiursa and Ursaring. Ursaring has a monstrous Attack stat and can be a nice Hyper Beam spammer in the main game.
  • Stantler. Uh, at least Pokemon Legends: Arceus looks to be finally doing something interesting with this thing?
  • Magby, Magmar, and Magmortar. Sinnoh has a well-documented chronic lack of Fire-types. Pokemon BDSP alleviates that to some degree, mainly through the Magmortar line. If you didn't choose Chimchar, strongly consider Magby.
  • Bagon, Shelgon, and Salamence. A peculiar trade for the Tyranitar line, considering that Sinnoh's very own Garchomp is so great. Do you want another Dragon-type Pokemon? Are you basically Lance? If so, here you go.
  • Lotad, Lombre, and Ludicolo. Water/Grass is another intriguing typing. A single Ice Beam is practically guaranteed to nuke Ludicolo, but it has a fun advantage in many other fights.
  • Sableye. Sableye's whole shtick is its lack of weaknesses. Its actual stats are miserable, but hey.
  • Seviper. Zangoose and Seviper have an infamous rivalry, which is weird since Zangoose is blatantly weak to Seviper. Maybe that arrogant defiance makes Zangoose cooler?
  • Lunatone. We can make the same joke for Lunatone that we made for Solrock, even if it wasn't funny the first time. Moon and UltraMoon fans take note.
  • Shieldon and Bastiodon. The more defensively oriented of the fossil duos.
  • Glameow and Purugly. Most Pokemon cats are kind of ugly. At least Purugly owns it.

Legendary Exclusives in Shining Pearl

  • Palkia. As we noted with Dialga, Palkia is less loved overall, but it can outspeed its box legendary rival and will still be incredibly handy against the Elite Four.
  • Lugia. With such sterling Defense and Special Defense, this Psychic/Flying avian can take a beating.
  • Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres. The legendary dogs may be better pound-for-pound, but an argument can be made that Zapdos' Special Attack and Speed makes Raikou toast.