To say I’m a Pokémon fan is an understatement. Sure, I’ve played through all of the traditional games since red/blue and almost every other iteration of the game but beyond that, I created some of the most competitive teams of Pokémon back in the days of Gold, Silver, Crystal. In fact, there was a time period in high school (I think my sophomore year), where each day I would spend 1-2 hours in the basement working out my physique, all the while fighting the Elite 4 for the three minutes in between reps (as counterintuitive as those combined actions may sound together). My team consisted of an entire box of Pokémon at level 70 or higher (that’s 30 in all, some at level 100), with many types of incredible creatures at my disposal. My only problem was I never had anyone to fight with due to the lack of online gameplay (aside from one friend and my younger brothers).
Effort values became new to me around a year or so after Ruby/Sapphire came out, and though I initially wasn’t a huge fan of these two games (because I felt like they could not compare with Gold/Silver/Crystal), this new system of effort values (or ev points for short) intrigued me enough to train incessantly and the games quickly grew on me. However, by this time, I truly had no one to play with aside my younger brothers. As each new Pokémon game arrived, I spent countless hours training new teams I’d never used before but again, the lack of online play was an issue. Now that internet gaming has become such a huge success, and almost a standard at this point, Diamond & Pearl has truly grown my love for the series with its homage to its greatest games (Gold/Silver/Crystal) as well as its inclusion of internet battle/trading.
Though Pokémon is sometimes perceived as a title targeted to a younger audience (which in appearance, it is admittedly so), I and many other countless fans have found that its endless amount of strategy/customization make it one of the most addictive RPG experiences on any system to date. I’ve loved Pokémon through the years for this reason and as long as Nintendo continues to create new polished versions with huge additions to depth, I’ll always be a fan. But does the release of Platinum bring anything substantially new to the table or does it fall in line with its predecessors (Yellow, Crystal, Emerald) by providing merely minor additions to previously released games? If so, is this a bad thing and who would the game appeal to?
Nintendo’s Number 1 Niche
First of all, if you’re new to Pokémon, or even the current generation of Pokémon (meaning any of the games in the Sinnoh region), Pokémon Platinum is a great place to start. Basically each subsequent generation of games retains the gameplay of each of the previous generations but adds more features, more Pokémon (493 in all at this point), and more polish. Pokémon Platinum is in the fourth generation of handheld games along with Diamond & Pearl. However, as with all of the third installments to each generation, Platinum is an extension of both Diamond & Pearl, bringing the two stories together with its own improved take on the story. The game also includes the ability to catch certain Pokémon that were not available in previous titles, and even adds some new forms to older Pokémon (most notably and very impressively, the secret that changes the ghost/electric Pokémon known as Rotom into one of five new forms).
However, if you’ve played through Diamond/Pearl and you’re not a Pokémaniac, Platinum probably won’t be too appealing to you. Though the game is technically a “better” version of the other two games, its core story as well as game progression is really no different (aside from a few different plot points here or there). There is an extra (though short) area that is added to the main story but it’s nothing noteworthy enough to make you grind through the same essential experience once again.
That being said, for all the Pokémaniacs, this game continues its trend of bringing yet another polished Pokémon title to keep you occupied. If you’re all about being 1337 and the added Pokémon options in this title are tempting, then you’ll most definitely love the title. Personally, I’ve played through at least one of each of the first two titles in each generation and then loved the third title in each generation even more than the originals, just because I love replaying games and the small variations are enough to keep me happy each time around.
In terms of online play, Platinum also brings a few new items to the table but nothing monumental (Nintendo did a great job of getting it right the first time). New features include a Platinum exclusive Wi-Fi plaza including new games and features to fool around with. However, the most notable improvement allows for players to use the Vs. Recorder (given to you at the beginning of the game) that allows you to record battles and share them over the internet. Though this might not appeal to some, others will find this yet another way to extend the Pokémon community.
The final question that must be addressed (about Pokémon in general) is where Pokémon can head in the future. I have several thoughts towards improving the games but the nearest areas of improvement are in full online integration (similar to MMORPGS) as well as adding regular downloadable content. Also, a ridiculous amount of new Pokémon would be pretty cool as well as extremely rare Pokémon (how cool would it be to catch a Pokémon that no one has ever heard of, even on internet message boards?). The possibilities are endless but the obvious future is in online integration and Nintendo has done a great job with its first online compatible handheld titles.
Strategy/RPG fans alike should thoroughly enjoy Pokémon’s exponentially extensive iteration of Rock/Paper/Scissors-style battles. With close to 500 Pokémon and just over 460 unique moves, Pokémon is an experience that can last for hundreds of hours if you’re a perfectionist (on Silver alone I spent over 250 hours as logged). Nearly all kids enjoy the game but any adult that can look past the cutesy style of art can see that it is one of the deepest experiences available in a game to date through its depth of customization and party management/leveling. However, I must again emphasize, if you’ve played Diamond or Pearl and you’re not addicted to the series, Platinum is not recommended for you (as it’s merely a new iteration of these two games). For everyone else (gamers new to the series, new to the current Pokémon generation, or hardcore fans), this game is every bit the best iteration of the fourth generation of Pokémon. Though my allegiance to Gold/Silver/Crystal will probably never be surpassed by any other Pokémon game, Diamond/Pearl/Platinum are the closest ones to rival them as of yet. Highly Recommended.