Review by justkaz7
"Platinum, I Choose You! (A comprehensive review for the nitpicky gamer)"
(If you want to skip ahead to the final score/conclusion, scroll to the bottom!)
This is a mostly unbiased review for gamers who want to know if this is a good game to buy for the DS. I am a fan of the series, but I have kept my review as objective as possible.
That said this is one of the latest in a long-running RPG series that spans across every handheld released by Nintendo (except the VirtualBoy) and spawned an equally popular television series and a handful of movies. This game is not a continuation of Diamond/Pearl, but a revamped product with some awesome additional features and a slightly modified storyline. If you thought Nintendo released the Yellow, Leaf Green, Fire Red, and Emerald versions to milk the cashcow, you would be right. This time is no different, but I feel a stronger effort was made to improve upon the two original games (Diamond/Pearl), as I have played Pearl version as well.
Gameplay is smooth and flawless. The gameplay revolves around the catching and training of over 400 different Pokemon, including many returning favorites from D/P and Ruby/Sapphire, who you will use to battle other trainers. As far as Pokemon exclusive to Platinum, there are some Pokemon that were in the Pokedex for D/P but could not be caught. In Platinum these Pokemon have been changed. Now there are some that can be found only in Platinum, but others that are only in D/P.
Nearly every feature introduced in the GBA versions (the two bikes: Acro and Mach now combined into one with a gear-shifter, the berry system, the pokemon contests, real-time clock that affects wild Pokemon encounters, Pokemon Contests, etc.) has been PERFECTED since the release of D/P. In Platinum, many minor flaws were corrected since D/P like the ability to buy some items by the dozen instead of individually.
The battle system remains unchanged from the GBA versions. If you expected GameFreak to revamp its battle system, after over a decade of success with the same formula, shame on you. Despite the addition of new moves, the battle system closely resembles Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald.
There are a lot of new features, exclusive to Platinum, such as the Wi-Fi Plaza, which allows you to play stylus-based mini-games with trainers from across the globe. You can interact with these players and even view Japanese players' names and Pokemon in Japanese. The Battle Frontier has been improved and expanded since D/P. The new Battle Video and Player Ranking features bring more excitement to competitive battling. Customizability is essentially unchanged from D/P. You can modify the animation sequence of your Pokeballs when thrown into battle, dress them up in costumes to show off to friends, and even customize your trainer's appearance (only in Wi-Fi gameplay). The "characteristic" feature introduced in D/P adds further customizability options. (Read the "Replayability" section for more details)
The touch screen is used quite often, mainly through the use of a device called the Poketch which, once obtained, displays one of many available applications that are unlocked as the game progresses. Of course, there are a treasure trove of fun, fast-paced, mini-games to keep the average gamer content should you want a break from battling. These games can be played with friends over Wi-Fi via the use of the friend code system, or against strangers via the Wi-Fi Plaza. Overall, gameplay is one of the strong points, offering the casual and the serious gamer unlimited options for fun.
The only major concern is the repetitiveness of Pokemon battles/animations/sounds and the fact that the basics of the game haven't changed much since the original games were released on Gameboy.
This is an area where I feel the game is a bit lackluster. I recently got Chinatown Wars and was blown away by the graphics. Then, I picked up Pokemon Platinum and I thought: "This looks like my Sapphire version with some upgrades." There are numerous perks, such as 3-D towns/cities, new animation sequences for certain Pokemon entrances, and other minor details that, when noticed, will put a smile on your face. (Of course, many of these will not be noticed unless you've played the D/P versions) However, most of the gameplay will feel very 2-D in nature, harkening back to the days of old with Red and Blue. That said, this game will not provide jaw-dropping eye candy. The 3-D textures are smooth, colors are vibrant, and the stylization is suitable for a Pokemon game, but don't expect to be amazed.
The story is linear and geared toward children in the 10-12 age group, but it can be equally enjoyable for older teens and young adults. The basic premise is the introduction to a new world inhabited by wondrous creatures called Pokemon who aid the main character in his quest to find them all and defeat a misguided evil that seeks to alter this peaceful world.
You start the game with a choice of 3 different Pokemon, corresponding to the 3 types of Fire, Water, and Grass. Then you must travel throughout the land to acquire new Pokemon, defeating other trainers along the way, and finally defeat the area's most skilled trainers to claim the title of champion. Along the way you will meet some interesting characters, increase your knowledge of Pokemon through the use of the Pokedex (much like a mobile Poke-pedia), and experience the joy of raising your own Pokemon. The dialogue is not particularly clever or moving, but fairly interesting. On the bright side, some characters are quite humorous and there are certain nostalgic elements that only veterans of the series will notice (ie. the thirsty guard from Red/Blue!)
At any rate, the plot has never been remarkable throughout the history of the Pokemon franchise, so this time is no exception.
The quality and variation of the theme songs deserve praise. Whether its the spooky sounds of the Old Chateau, the heart-racing beat of the Elite Four battle theme songs, or the cheerful, happy-go-lucky tune of the Hikers, this game provides a solid score of aptly-timed music! The cries of the Pokemon are original as well, many of them will sound familiar to long-time fans, and some will just sound like a wooden chair dragged across the floor or fingernails scraping a blackboard. The repetition of some sounds will become annoying, especially if you are fighting the same Pokemon over and over again.
This is an area where the game shines! There are a bevy of features in Platinum that will keep you playing for hundreds of hours. If you thought the other Pokemon games were engrossing, this one will keep you up all night if you don't control yourself! Not only are there all kinds of side quests and mini games to keep you occupied from the get-go, but once you have conquered the main objective of the game, you can unlock the ability to transfer Pokemon from your GBA version to the Platinum game, as well as unlock these same Pokemon in the wild to catch. For those who like collecting, this game features over 400 Pokemon, including many of the Ruby/Sapphire and Gold/Silver version Pokemon.
For the competitive gamer, the EV system is back from the GBA versions, with a twist: the random "characteristic" feature introduced in D/P. Basically all Pokemon you encounter have one of 30 random "characteristics" which determine how certain stats will grow as the Pokemon levels, similar to Natures. With this Pokemon have another level of depth to make customization even more complex. Combined with the Natures of Pokemon, you can truly make the "ultimate" team (if you have the time/patience to do so). With the addition of the Player Rankings and Battle Video features, serious trainers can now take their battles to other countries to claim the title of Pokemon Master, and then show off their accomplishments to the world. Plus, with Nintendo releasing new Pokemon through special "events" like the Darkrai event coming soon, there's another reason to keep playing this game many months into the future.
OVERALL RATING: 8.2
CONCLUSION: For first-time Pokemon players, if the idea of having anime-inspired creatures battle for supremacy piques your interest, this is a great buy for the DS, a CLASSIC on so many levels. Definitely buy this game if you are a Pokemon fan who does not have Pearl/Diamond; you will not regret it. If you own Pearl/Diamond, but are a competitive gamer eager to take the Pokemon challenge to the next level, it's up to you whether spending the extra $34+ to own this game is worth it. No matter how you look at it though, this game is easily the best Pokemon game to date, a true gem!
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 05/13/09
Game Release: Pokemon Platinum Version (US, 03/22/09)
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