Pokemons Grand Underground Is Just A Worse Wild Area

Pokemon’s Grand Underground Is Just A Worse Wild Area

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl has taken one of Pokemon’s best ideas and made it worse

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Pokemons Grand Underground Is Just A Worse Wild Area

Pokemon is a game all about discovery and adventure. In Sword & Shield, we saw possibly the biggest evolution of this idea since the games began with the introduction of the Wild Area and roving Pokemon in the overworld. Technically that second one came from Let’s Go, and by extension, Pokemon Go, but SwSh was the first mainline game to include them. Pokemon BDSP has no roving Pokemon, and being a remake of an older game, no room to reasonably place a Wild Area. I expect these ideas will still feature in Gen 9, but it’s disappointing to see them regress in BDSP. Luckily, we have the Grand Underground. Unluckily, I hate the Grand Underground.

One of the biggest criticisms of the Wild Area is that it’s not really wild at all. It’s an enclosed space in the middle of the map with no connection to Galar as a whole. It’s a synthetic safari park. It’s a zoo. The old Safari Zone was upfront about what it was, but the Wild Area masquerades as something natural despite being even more artificial. Pokemon BDSP seems to have taken these criticisms on board and decided it’s going to Wild Zone even harder.

Rather than an open space in the middle of the map, it’s an underground cave that’s basically everywhere. I know this map already existed, making it hard to organically introduce a new slice of wilderness, but the cave thing is just so… stupid. Why can I dig down in the middle of a town centre? How do I get out again? Why does travelling underground seem to have no bearing on where I travel above ground? How come every time I come back to the surface I suddenly develop the ability to teleport?

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Pokemons Grand Underground Is Just A Worse Wild Area

This is just one aspect of my annoyance with the Grand Underground. I like that it introduces roving Pokemon again, but having them in specific rooms feels wrong. In BDSP, Pokemon are everywhere in caves – yet there are none in the tunnels of the Grand Underground. I don’t necessarily want there to be, but it’s weirdly inconsistent across the game.

Then we reach the areas where the Pokemon roam. They’re deeply uninspired in their designs, and that’s before we get to the Pokemon in them. I’m trying to build a team of ‘mons I’ve never used before, and when I first entered the Grand Underground, four of my six fit that brief. However, one was Jirachi, which feels like a cheat, so I was eager to build up a team of exciting Pokemon I’d never bothered with before.

Not to worry, I’m sure I’ll find loads of Pokemon here, right? Like, oh look, a Budew! You know, like the seven million I’ve already seen. And wow, a Bidoof! What a rare little ‘mon that is! Wait… no. It can’t be. Is… is that Starly? Mam, dad, come quick! There’s a Starly in my Gen 4 game!!!

Seriously though, what is going on? Why are the most boring, common Pokemon overground the same as the most common, boring Pokemon underground? What’s even the point of going underground (going underground…)?

After a while, I found something worth catching – Lickitung. Not the most interesting creature, but hey, I’ve never ran it before. Sure, why not? I’ll tell you why not – the catch rate is absolutely abysmal. I get Lickitung’s health in the red and put it to sleep. Somehow, it breaks out of five Great Balls, wakes up, breaks out of another six, and then escapes my last four Poke Balls while wiping my team out because I’m too busy trying to catch it to bother fighting it. What a delightful romp underground that was!

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Also, why am I stamping on Diglett’s head? Why am I being rewarded for it? How am I being rewarded for it? I see a little bar go up to 40 but I have always been wiped out, ran out of balls, or just gotten bored by the grind and magically levitated out of the underground before it has ever filled up. Maybe it causes a cave in and this nightmare will finally be over. God, I hope so.

Mostly, the Grand Underground annoys me because the Wild Area is better, and the Wild Area isn’t even that good. I’ve made my peace with the fact Pokemon progresses by inches, but it’s disappointing to see these improvements are already being regressed. Pokemon Legends: Arceus can’t come soon enough.

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