Review by Mykas0
"Yes, it is here, yet again."
Let me guess, you just couldn't get enough of Diamond and Pearl, right? For some silly reason, you actually feel the need of getting some more Pokemon, and you're considering whether to buy this new product or not... Well, the famed third version has been around for years - those guys at Game Freak constantly announce rehashed titles shortly after the release two main games, and they also come with some extra bonus. New moves, monsters that you couldn't capture before, extra items, etc, those are the kind of things that have been around for years, but... is this really worth your money?
In general, no. If you have played either Diamond or Pearl, the storyline available in this game is terribly predictable, to the point of exhaustion. There are one or two minor events that differ from the previous games, but the basic plot line is exactly the same - get all badges, defeat the bad guys - turning your experience into more of a chore than actual fun. From the added events, one deserves special credit, for its uniqueness - soon after spotting the usual legendary creature that graces the box art, you're taken to rather unique three-dimensional world, where the laws of the physics barely apply. That's original, that's certainly unpredictable and an interesting idea, but that sequence is also too short to be significantly relevant. I look forward to see it in the future, as this series could certainly profit from that kind of novelty.
Another thing that was added to your adventure was a theme park, where the main attraction are Pokemon battles. This may sound pleasantly original, but it's the exact same function we've seen back in Emerald version, a few years ago. You must win battles, under various conditions, to gain Battle Points, which you can later exchange for various (and also very rare) items, or spend. There is a very limited audience for this kind of feature - most people just want to Catch' em all - but it also provides instant fun for a couple hours. There are battles where you take a single of your creatures to one-on-one confrontations, others where you face three random creatures, others where you're given random monsters, and so on. It kinda breaks the usual six-on-six mold, which is just fine.
In terms of particular creatures, it may be just me, but some movesets appear to have been slightly changed. Oddly, some of the monsters that you could find in the other two versions still take the very same areas in this new game. Yes, monsters such as Geodude and Zubat are still as common as before, to the point of absurdity. Just how many of those monsters live in the Pokemon world? After tons of games, Zubat is still as common as in the very first game, making me wonder why people need that many elements of the species; they're more of an annoying plague than an actual threat, though.
Something that was also slightly changed are the gym mechanics. Although some gyms are played exactly as before, now more complex experiences replace several simple gyms. For example, the grass gym, where you could originally find a small, maze-like, forest, is now a flower-like clock, where you have to fight some trainees before actually advancing to the leader.
Also, more day-related events were added to this game. If you recall, the previous games had a single Pokemon that you could try to capture once a week; now, there are more of those set events, with particular people give you bonus on a certain day of the week, specific opponents only wanting to fight you on, let's say, Wednesdays, and so on. This also adds some kind of replay value to the game, unless you want to cheat the system, that is.
The Wi-fi system also suffered some changes. Instead of the simple system from the previous games, where you could mostly exchange monsters and battle other players, you're now able to access some other features. There is a cooperative Poffin-baking mode, an improved Wi-fi room, among tons of other surprises. In terms of the Global Trading System, you're now allowed to set an e-mail address to receive your own updates (if, let's say, somebody just traded that beast you really wanted, you'll get an e-mail stating such fact), and the whole new Battle Recorder allows you to record your own battles and send them to all your friends. That one's all about bragging rights, I guess...
Apart from these, the game features many other minor changes. There are a few new characters, but no new legendaries whatsoever. Instead, you're merely given new forms, which is pathetic way of telling us that they just didn't wanted to give players any new monsters. Instead, Shaymin, Giratina and Rotom now have extra forms, which can be changed by performing specific in-game tasks. This is not particularly impacting in the gameplay, or worthwhile, and it's more of a silly way of getting players to buy a game where their Rotom can now turn into somewhat of a washing machine. It's certainly laughable for a few minutes, but in the end it is just silly and plain unimportant.
Ultimately, and I must give credit where it is due, the game is harder than its predecessors. There are several high-level opponents for you to face in any part of the game, and every opponent seems to be way more intelligent than before. For more than once, I've seen enemies switching out their active monster, or using healing items, in order to gain the upper hand over my active creature, which complicates your battle strategies. This way, confrontations are way more challenging than before, which is fine by me.
Monster sprites were changed, which is a common feature by now, but everything else seems to look exactly like before. You could even compare the way cities look and you'd easily spot that everything looks exactly the same, which is fairly disappointing. Instead of focusing on changing these aspects, the game offers some limited scenes with amazing special effects, such as Giratina's entrance sequence. That's certainly one of those moments where you'll feel deeply impressed, but as a one-time sequence, it is just some free eye-candy, and nothing more. Yet again, Giratina's dimension deserves a special mention - depicted in a very clear 3D style, such areas of the game also serve as evidence for the fact that developers could have improved the main game a lot more than they did.
Sound is, once more, an area which lacks updates. Hear the tunes for a while, listen to a few effects and, shortly after, you're bound to turning the sound all the way down.
To easily sum it up, this game is only worthwhile for those players who have bought neither the Diamond nor Pearl versions. Despite some changes, a few improvements, and a couple monsters that you can now capture directly, this game is not worth the price of a full title, if you already have one of the games that came before it. If, and only if, that's not your case, you may consider getting this, as it provides a ton of hours of classic amusement.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 09/25/08
Game Release: Pocket Monsters Platina (JP, 09/13/08)
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