|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Game Freak||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 22, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-8||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
In true Pokémon style, Pokémon: Platinum is a remixed and nuanced compilation of Pokémon: Diamond and Pearl - two flavors of the same game released in April of 2007. Nearly two years later, Pokémon: Platinum represents the "third game" and definitive version of the fourth generation of Pokémon titles. All this rehashing seems completely asinine to gamers out of the know, but to the hardcore fan, catching them all year after year is almost a rite of passage.
That being said, Pokémon: Platinum is perhaps one of the best JRPGs available for the Nintendo DS. Truly, if you've never caught the Pokémon bug, Platinum is the best way to get yourself acquainted with one of the greatest-selling video gaming franchises of all time. The game features a rewarding, strategic battle mechanic, an ingratiating leveling experience, a layered multiplayer battling and trading component, and a varied and devoted fan community. It truly is the seminal iteration of a great franchise.
Despite the game's cutesy façade and umpteen editions, Pokémon still has a lot of RPG gameplay for players to sink their teeth into. Nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than in Pokémon: Platinum. In case you're unfamiliar with the basic mechanics of the series, Pokémon employs turn-based RPG combat where players use various creatures they've caught and trained while adventuring in order to best other Pokémon. Because Pokémon have different, elemental characteristics, players will have to use a variety of the pocket monsters along the way in order to get past the challenges presented by myriad foes. This puts an emphasis on finding, catching, and training as many Pokémon as possible; hence the catchphrase: "Gotta Catch 'em All!"
Of course, unlocking all of the critters isn't just a matter of time. Players that are truly interested in opening up all 493 available Pokémon varieties need to join up with a friend or friends with different versions of the game in order to trade their beasties and have some of them transform into stronger forms. The combination of rock-paper-scissors elements along with unique abilities, and the hidden nature of collecting Pokémon and raising them to tap into their veiled potential, make the format incredibly addictive!
These basic gameplay mechanics and the trading component have been present in the franchise since the release of Pokémon Red and Blue on the original GameBoy. Also present since the beginning of the franchise, is the coined "third game" compilation title. This all-encompassing third entry, found in every generation, allows for trading between all previous versions as well as a few bonus Pokémon and subtle upgrades. For example, Pokémon: Red and Blue had Yellow, Pokémon: Ruby and Sapphire had Emerald, and now Pokémon: Diamond and Pearl have Platinum. In other words, every third entry marks the end of a generation of Pokémon titles, allowing for compatibility between that entire generation.
As such, Pokémon: Platinum is necessarily not very different from Diamond and Pearl (for an in-depth look at what those games have to offer, please check out our review). In fact, the real differences found in Platinum include, of course, a few new Pokémon, access to a new world in the Sinnoh Region, and increased multiplayer features. For the most part, players who have grinded their way through Diamond and Pearl won't find any differences in the experience until they reach the Distortion World - some two-thirds of the way through the single-player adventure. The Distortion World is a 3D realm where time and space are altered - players will actually walk on the walls, solve puzzles, and come across ancient, legendary Pokémon species. The new world is a neat addition to this generation, but it does suffer from an odd graphical presentation.
As far as expanded multiplayer options are concerned, Pokémon: Platinum owners will have access to their own special Wi-Fi Plaza where a few touch-based mini-games can be played. There are three mini-games in all that have players flicking berries, balancing a mime, and popping a balloon. Needless to say, the mini-games are not one of the title's biggest draws. On the other hand, players can unlock expanded modes in Battle Frontier - a series of one-off multiplayer battles. In addition to Battle Tower, players can also try their luck at Battle Hall, Factory, Castle, and Arcade. Additionally, Pokémon: Platinum features a few interesting additions to the Global Terminal, including Trainer rankings and the ability to upload battle videos via the Vs. Recorder. That's right; Platinum lets you take videos of your favorite battles and trade them with other people in order to see how they handle certain Pokémon types. Particularly awesome battles are even given a ranking according to popularity.