Review by EJRICH

"A Two-Faced Platinum Coin"

Pokemon is one of those games that will have you singing the hallelujah chorus in one breathe and then turning around and cursing it immediately thereafter. Why is this? Put simply, Pokemon is a franchise that has almost limitless potential. Sometimes the developers hit that potential, other times they simply rehash what we've all become accustomed to. Pokemon Platinum happens to fit into the latter category. Continuing down the trend of rereleasing a retread a few years after the original was released, Pokemon Platinum is basically the same thing that the masses of pokemaniacs decided to play a few years ago. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily.

While most people have already experienced the region of Sinnoh when Pokemon Diamond and Pearl were released back in '07, the few of you who haven't are in for a pleasant treat. While not the largest of the poke-continents, Sinnoh ranks up there in being one of the most detailed and fun to explore. From cavernous mountains to the chilly snowdrifts of the North, Sinnoh will have players literally digging around for hours on end trying to uncover all of its secrets. Little nooks and crannies are abundant, and it's that little spark of interest in finding a new area to explore that always tends to get the creative juices flowing. Could there be a secret area around that tree? Should I surf on this water? Those are just some of the questions that constantly will go through the mind of a player.

And so that leads us to the namesake of the game. As fun as Sinnoh is to explore, there is another element to the big picture that makes Platinum such a joy to play. And no, it's not getting to leave the house at the ripe old age of ten. No, it's the Pokemon. What's a Pokemon? Good question. I tend to go down the route of cute little stuffed animals that can breathe fire. Yup. On a more serious note, Pokemon are what make Platinum the game that it is. All 400 something of them. Like most every Pokemon game in the past, you are tasked with collecting and training a small army of these things, eventually challenging each of the eight gym leaders of Sinnoh and finally beating up the big bad Elite Four.

As was said earlier, your main task is to collect and train a small army of creatures to battle. Battling is an exercise in rock paper scissors. There are a multitude of types in the game, each weak and strong against several others. Your job is to use a bit of common sense to determine what should be done in each particular situation. The system is incredibly simple, as you can only use four moves at a time. These moves can range in type and power, as well as how many times you can use it before you need to heal up.

Sound complicated? It really isn't. You see, Pokemon can be as difficult or as easy as you want it to be. Anybody with at least some type of whit and thinking ability can catch a few of these cretins, level them up by battling other trainers, and finally blow through the gym leaders. Having problems? Power level for a bit or change your strategy. It may be a bit of a grind, but it's not a particularly difficult one. The game designers were fairly good with pacing up until the Elite Four, so there should be little to no whining until then. When you get to them, it just simply comes down to taking what you have learned and applying it to each individual battle. That, and bring a ton of healing items. With the right levels and strategy, no battle in this game is particularly difficult.

One of the main new features Platinum has to offer compared to the previous titles is the Distortion World. It really should be named the “Useless excuse to extend the story an extra ten minutes” world. While everything is rendered in full three-dimensional graphics, nothing that this place has to offer is really worth bothering with. It is a useless task in running around for a few minutes before you are zapped back to Sinnoh, and even if this place does make full use of the system's hardware, what does that have to do with me as the player if I am stuck wondering when the darn thing will end?

Other new features of Platinum include the Battle Frontier, where you can test your abilities against a cheap A.I., extra Pokemon to catch, a few more items to collect, and best of all, an expanded story. Maybe best of all is going a bit too far on the story part. While Pokemon has never really be known for an amazingly epic story, Platinum's attempt to remedy this pre-conceived truth falls flat. And fast, at that. Basically, we have auditioning for us today an odd group of laughing stocks known as Team Galactic. They want to create a better world. Or something like that. While all the cute little chubbies are running around wrecking havoc, often times the player will be sitting there wondering what the heck is going on. Nothing is explained decently, and often times when something is explained decently, you'll wish that it wasn't.

Graphically, Platinum is colorful, vibrant, and nicely rendered. The game makes use of sprites to convey characters on the gaming map, with three-dimensional objects and buildings scattered about. The little attentions to detail are very present, as everything from your footsteps to your shadow is rendered wherever you walk. The Distortion World is in full three-dimensional graphics, which is where graphically, at least, the game can call its best product. Battles take place with mostly pre-rendered sprites that will occasionally be wiggled around when an attack animation is shown. The attacks themselves are detailed fairly well, but if you want battles to go faster you may choose to block out those animations.

Musically, Platinum starts off well but flat-lines at about the third or fourth town. This is simply because at the beginning of the game, the tunes that are present are completely new to the ear and are fairy pleasant to listen to. The developers made a fatal mistake, though, and that was to use the same tunes over and over and over again. And just when you thought they could not use them any more, they decided to use them again. With the amount of time that is spent playing the game, there may come a point in time when you choose to turn the volume down after hearing the same song for the ten-thousandth time.

These above gripes are present, that's a fact. However, when you look at the big picture and see what the developers of Platinum managed to accomplish in this game, you will be pleasantly surprised. The sheer amount of things to do, places to visit, people to meet, Pokemon to collect, teams to create, and surprises to uncover ensure that you will be playing the game for a very long time. To anyone who has played Diamond and Pearl, Platinum may not be in your best interest as many things that were present in the older titles are also in this new entry, even if they were ever so slightly updated. To anyone who has never played a Pokemon game before, Platinum is definitely the game to get. Not only is it one of the longest and most packed Pokemon games, but it is also the definitive one at the moment. It is great to see that Pokemon has gone platinum.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 01/21/10

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

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