Going Platinum, Baby!
In true Pokémon style, Pokémon: Platinum is a remixed and nuanced compilation of Pokémon: Diamond and Pearl – two flavors of the same game released in April of 2007. Nearly two years later, Pokémon: Platinum represents the “third game” and definitive version of the fourth generation of Pokémon titles. All this rehashing seems completely asinine to gamers out of the know, but to the hardcore fan, catching them all year after year is almost a rite of passage.
That being said, Pokémon: Platinum is perhaps one of the best JRPGs available for the Nintendo DS. Truly, if you’ve never caught the Pokémon bug, Platinum is the best way to get yourself acquainted with one of the greatest-selling video gaming franchises of all time. The game features a rewarding, strategic battle mechanic, an ingratiating leveling experience, a layered multiplayer battling and trading component, and a varied and devoted fan community. It truly is the seminal iteration of a great franchise.
Despite the game’s cutesy façade and umpteen editions, Pokémon still has a lot of RPG gameplay for players to sink their teeth into. Nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than in Pokémon: Platinum. In case you’re unfamiliar with the basic mechanics of the series, Pokémon employs turn-based RPG combat where players use various creatures they’ve caught and trained while adventuring in order to best other Pokémon. Because Pokémon have different, elemental characteristics, players will have to use a variety of the pocket monsters along the way in order to get past the challenges presented by myriad foes. This puts an emphasis on finding, catching, and training as many Pokémon as possible; hence the catchphrase: “Gotta Catch ’em All!”
Of course, unlocking all of the critters isn’t just a matter of time. Players that are truly interested in opening up all 493 available Pokémon varieties need to join up with a friend or friends with different versions of the game in order to trade their beasties and have some of them transform into stronger forms. The combination of rock-paper-scissors elements along with unique abilities, and the hidden nature of collecting Pokémon and raising them to tap into their veiled potential, make the format incredibly addictive!
These basic gameplay mechanics and the trading component have been present in the franchise since the release of Pokémon Red and Blue on the original GameBoy. Also present since the beginning of the franchise, is the coined “third game” compilation title. This all-encompassing third entry, found in every generation, allows for trading between all previous versions as well as a few bonus Pokémon and subtle upgrades. For example, Pokémon: Red and Blue had Yellow, Pokémon: Ruby and Sapphire had Emerald, and now Pokémon: Diamond and Pearl have Platinum. In other words, every third entry marks the end of a generation of Pokémon titles, allowing for compatibility between that entire generation.
As such, Pokémon: Platinum is necessarily not very different from Diamond and Pearl (for an in-depth look at what those games have to offer, please check out our review ). In fact, the real differences found in Platinum include, of course, a few new Pokémon, access to a new world in the Sinnoh Region, and increased multiplayer features. For the most part, players who have grinded their way through Diamond and Pearl won’t find any differences in the experience until they reach the Distortion World – some two-thirds of the way through the single-player adventure. The Distortion World is a 3D realm where time and space are altered – players will actually walk on the walls, solve puzzles, and come across ancient, legendary Pokémon species. The new world is a neat addition to this generation, but it does suffer from an odd graphical presentation.
As far as expanded multiplayer options are concerned, Pokémon: Platinum owners will have access to their own special Wi-Fi Plaza where a few touch-based mini-games can be played. There are three mini-games in all that have players flicking berries, balancing a mime, and popping a balloon. Needless to say, the mini-games are not one of the title’s biggest draws. On the other hand, players can unlock expanded modes in Battle Frontier – a series of one-off multiplayer battles. In addition to Battle Tower, players can also try their luck at Battle Hall, Factory, Castle, and Arcade. Additionally, Pokémon: Platinum features a few interesting additions to the Global Terminal, including Trainer rankings and the ability to upload battle videos via the Vs. Recorder. That’s right; Platinum lets you take videos of your favorite battles and trade them with other people in order to see how they handle certain Pokémon types. Particularly awesome battles are even given a ranking according to popularity.
There are a multitude of other tweaks that have been made in Platinum. For example, a Spin Trade game is available that lets you trade unhatched Pokémon eggs with up to four other players. Because of its random quality, you won’t know what kind of Pokémon you have until it hatches some time later. As nice as this feature is, it doesn’t substantially impact the gameplay or the draw of the title. The other additions to the title are simply too insignificant and numerous to even mention. Suffice it to say, Pokémon: Platinum is jam-packed with content, some of which is exclusive to this version.
On the presentation and controls front, Pokémon: Platinum is no more visually impressive than the versions found on the GBA. While the various sprites are very endearing, the environments are decidedly sparse and unimaginative. On the other hand, the musical themes and Pokémon sounds are wide-ranging and great, but nothing new from that found on Diamond and Pearl. Controls are also solid, utilizing the D-pad for movement and the face-buttons for running, interacting with the environment, using special items, and accessing the menu. Touch Screen controls are also implemented during battles for selecting Trainer commands. Where the Touch Screen controls seem to really shine is during multiplayer interactions while cooking, making Poffins, and playing the mini-games.
Due to the outstanding sales numbers of the Pokémon series, chances are you’re already intimately familiar with the ins and outs of gameplay and the addictive nature of the title. What you really want to know is whether or not you should pick up Platinum. The answer is either yes or no, depending on what you expect from the latest version. If you’ve already picked up Diamond or Pearl (or both), there really aren’t very many compelling additions to Platinum that would warrant its purchase. Of course, if you’ve got cash to spare or just simply are ready for another Pokémon fix, Platinum is a lovely title that shouldn’t disappoint you.
For newbies or players that haven’t Pok-ed around since the GBA, you’ll be happy to know that this is the definitive game of Pokémon, and it deserves a hallowed place in your portable gaming library. The vast amount of content in the single-player campaign to the multi-faceted multiplayer Wi-Fi options, make this a title with literally hundreds of hours of gameplay. If you’ve got the time and are looking for some seriously addictive, strategy fun, Pokémon: Platinum is the way to go!
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.3 Graphics
The cute sprites are great, but the environments are meager – virtually untouched from the days of the GBA. 3.5 Control
The basic D-pad and face-button combination works great for getting around and interacting in the single-player campaign. Touch Screen controls make issuing commands easy and shine whilst playing the multiplayer mini-games. 3.6 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The tunes are varied and delightful, and I love the clicks and squeals the Pokémon make. However, there’s nothing groundbreaking or new this time around. 5.0
The turn-based battle mechanic is steeped with strategy; collecting and trading Pokémon is highly addictive; the single-player campaign lasts for tens of hours; and the layered multiplayer goodies will have you playing for conceivably years to come.
4.2 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.