Review by Gridogn

Reviewed: 04/13/09

The Pokemon Franchise Welcomes a New Platinum Seller

Due to the fact that Pokemon has been ingrained in gaming (and for a fair share of time, mainstream) culture since it's American release in 1998, we tend to overlook it's ingenious and revolutionary game play formula. The premise of capturing, customizing, and fighting alongside hundreds of your own personal whimsical creatures is one unlike any before it. To put it bluntly, Pokemon is awesome. But, has Pokemon aged like a commonly worn piece of jewelery and lost it's luster? Find out in this review of the most recent installment in the long running franchise!

Graphics: In the past we have seen many prominent gaming heroes shift from their humble 8-bit iterations to more fleshed out, detailed ones. Take for example Link. Initially, merely a small collection of several pixels, Link truly gained a whole new depth of personality when players first took control of his 3-D self in that nicely furnished, 64-bit Kokiri tree house.

Our beloved Pokemon trainer, unlike his myriads of elemental creatures however, has not evolved that much over time. While certainly not as grainy as Pokemon Red or Blue, Pokemon Platinum isn't that much of an advancement. Distinguishing Pokemon Gold, Silver, or Crystal from Red, Blue, or Yellow was quite easy due to the yellow Pikachu in the former, and the green one in the ladder. Distinguishing Pokemon Platinum from Ruby, Sapphire, or Emerald on the other hand is somewhat more difficult. The only significant graphical enhancement Pokemon Platinum sports over it's predecessors is the presence of 3-D buildings.

With that said, the Pokemon aesthetic is pretty stylized, and has been rooted into gamer's minds since the Red, Blue and Yellow days. I might go as far as to say that imagining any different battle perspective than the current behind the (Pokemon's) back one is somewhat blasphemous. While others have clambered and demanded for larger technical leaps in the Pokemon franchise over the past, I find the streamlined and sterile look of the series to suit it quite fine. Platinum perfectly fits the classic Pokemon aesthetic just like it's older brethren.

Graphics: 9/10-(The sprites are made of pwnage btw :D!)

Sound: When mentioning Pokemon and music the same midst of each other, it's difficult to not think of Smosh's hit video parodying the Pokemon anime's theme song. There are however, many more memorable tunes than just that one. I'm pretty sure you'd get several acknowledging glances if you whistled the Gym theme in public. Pokemon Platinum continues the tradition of drilling those repetitive, yet memorable MIDI tunes into your head. I found Platinum to be weaker in the music department than any of the previous generations, but it's still great.

Sound: 8.5/10-(Route 209 is my favorite tune in Platinum)

-Choose starter Pokemon
-Begin capturing more Pokemon
-Encounter evil organization
-Fight in a few gyms
-Encounter evil organization again
-Fight in a few more gyms
-Take down evil organization
-Fight final few gyms
-Fight Elite Four
-Capture Legendary Pokemon available only after Elite Four are defeated

It's literally almost as perforated as I made it out to be! Essentially every Pokemon game abides by this paradigm, and Platinum is no exception. The only difference is that in Platinum you are squaring off against Team Galactic, not Rocket, Aqua or Magma.

The core game play and combat system, just like the the rest of the game, have hardly been altered. Pokemon Gold, Silver and Crystal built on the original formula by introducing Dark and Steel type Pokemon, Pokemon breeding, and items you can attach to your Pokemon. Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald further added to the foundation by giving special abilities to Pokemon, adding Pokemon natures (specific individual traits that Pokemon have which affect their performance in battle), and including Pokemon contests. No significant new tweaks were made in Platinum however (other than moves being classified as Physical or Special on an individual basis opposed to which type they are). Like I mentioned in the introductory portion of this review, the Pokemon formula is superb. The battle system has great strategic depth, and confining innocent creatures in futuristic balls that compress their particles is as satisfying as ever. Doing it for the fourth generation in a row though can get repetitive.

Perhaps the most compelling reason to purchase Platinum however is due to it's connectivity. Battling and trading Pokemon with friends in the past had to be done locally using Gameboy Gamelink cables. The boundaries have been lifted in Platinum, and you can now interact with your pals over the online, Nintendo Wi-Fi connection. When engaged in a clutch battle, you can even taunt your compadre by using the DS' mic. If you have a sizable group of friends that own Platinum (or even Diamond and Pearl), the online functionality makes it more of a worthwhile purchase.

Gameplay: 8/10 (10/10 if you've never played Pokemon before).

Conclusion: Pokemon Platinum is a stellar stand alone RPG. However, if you've been following the Pokemon franchise since it's modest origins, (a la moi), it can become rather repetitive. The saying goes, If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Well, if something is rusting does it mean it's broken? That's for you to decide.

Overall: 8/10 (10/10 if you've never played Pokemon before).

Comparison to Diamond/Pearl:

I like to view Pokemon Platinum as a special re-release of Diamond and Pearl. If you already own Diamond or Pearl there is absolutely no reason to get Platinum. The only major differences in Platinum are several revised Pokemon move sets, new gym interiors, the inclusion of the Distortion World (an insignificant puzzle level), and the inclusion of the Battle Frontier (an area in which you can pit your Pokemon against (pathetic) challenges).

Rating:   4.0 - Great

Product Release: Pokemon Platinum Version (US, 03/22/09)

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