Pokemon Platinum ReviewBy Raymond Padilla - Posted May 01, 2009
Pokemon refuses to die, especially the Diamond and Pearl series, and the franchise is back with a new installment, 'Pokemon Platinum' for the Nintendo DS. This is the third installment in the hugely popular Japanese card player, and X-Play has a review. Check it out!
- Excellent battle system
- Improved graphics and menu speed
- Brilliant additions for advanced players
- Still slow compared to older Pokemon games
- New content not enough for those only interested in story mode
- Questionable rules in "battle frontier"
A G4tv.com Online Only Review of Pokemon Platinum--
Like celebrity deaths, Pokemon games come in threes. Completing the triumvirate started by the Pokemon Diamond/Pearl role-playing games (RPGs) is Pokemon Platinum. Containing numerous enhancements to its forerunners, Platinum is a better version of an already excellent game. For players that are into advanced play (competitive battling, IV breeding, EV training, etc.), the new additions are enormous. For those that are content with completing the game's story mode, the additions are nominal. At the end of the day, Pokemon Platinum is one of the best RPGs for the Nintendo DS platform.
Why Pokemon Rules
For those not familiar with the series, Pokemon pits you as a novice trainer of the titular creatures. After being gifted a starter Pokemon, you must capture and train additional critters. From there you must defeat eight gym leaders, taking you all over Sinnoh, where you'll continuously encounter new Pokemon. After the gym leaders are beaten, you can take on the "Elite Four" -- the strongest trainers in the land.
Pokemon's hook is its combat system that uses a rock-paper-scissors style of play, with each Pokemon having different types, including fire, water, steel, psychic, ghost, and dark. Certain types are stronger against others, so using the right Pokemon and the right moves requires some strategic thinking. As battles get more difficult, advanced techniques (switching, prediction, weather control) can make skirmishes a brain-teasing delight.
The New Additions
In the game's story mode, Platinum's enhancements are few. The graphics have been improved, particularly in some of the gyms. There are also a bunch of little background touches that improve the game's overall look, but won't dazzle you. This isn't the best-looking game you'll see on the DS, but it's certainly more interesting to look at than its predecessor.
One subtle, but most welcomed, improvement is in Platinum's menu speeds. Longtime fans of the series hated how slow Pokemon Diamond/Pearl moved. Wading through menus and reading through text took way longer than it should, especially in comparison to how zippy Pokemon Emerald moved. This was especially evident in long battles, which dragged out more than they should have simply because text took too long to display. Platinum is noticeably faster than Diamond/Pearl, but still sluggish compared to Emerald.
The game also features a new area called "Distortion World". This place is the home to Giratina, the Pokemon that graces the cover of Platinum. A mysterious reflection of Sinnoh, Distortion World doesn't follow the normal rules of gravity. Water can flow upwards and you have to navigate your way through mazes that require you to walk up some walls. It's a neat dungeon with a distinct look.
For advanced players, there are a number of outstanding additions that make Pokemon breeding and training even more wonderfully complex than it already is. One of the most notable is the inclusion of three "move tutors". These fine folks can teach your Pokemon moves that it normally couldn't learn. This, in turn, gives your Pokemon the potential to become more versatile combatants that can surprise your opponent. For example, your foe might think he has you cornered with a dragon Pokemon, but thanks to a move tutor, your Pokemon knows the move "ice punch". Your Pokemon now has the ability to quickly dispatch dragon Pokemon, as well as any others that are week against ice.
The biggest addition, specifically for advanced players, is the new "battle frontier". This area contains the "battle tower" from the previous games, but also has four additional areas where trainers can go test their skills. The gameplay in battle frontier is much more difficult and challenging than the battles in story mode. Advanced techniques are often uses, requiring players use different strategies. While it's not quite as challenging as competitive play, competing and learning in battle frontier is a fantastic way to get started with advanced Pokemon play.
In addition to the two enhancements mentioned above, there are improvements to the "underground" side game and the addition of new multiplayer mini-games. These additions add more to the overall package, but aren't Earth shattering.
As Nintendo holds more Pokemon events, new features will be added to Platinum by way of items. The ones that most players are excited about are the items that will allow the Pokemon Giratina and Shaymin to change forms. These legendary Pokemon are already extremely powerful, but they play very differently once they change forms.
Experienced players will be flummoxed at some of the moves allowed in battle frontier. One-hit knockout attacks and the irritating "double team" move are not allowed in most Pokemon tournaments, but for some reason are allowed in battle frontier. These moves add a luck factor to battles, which takes away from the skill needed for successful battling. It's unfortunate that these moves aren't banned from battle frontier -- it prevents it from being a more accurate depiction of competitive play. The focus should be on skill and not on dumb luck.
If you played Pokemon Diamond/Pearl mostly for its story mode then the enhancements in Pokemon Platinum are probably not enough to justify a purchase. It's still a great game, but if you're the aforementioned type of player then you'll be getting more of the same. If you're a competitive player or interesting in learning more about competitive play then Platinum is an excellent purchase. Battle frontier is fantastic for gamers that want something more challenging, while the move tutors are brilliant for breeding and making Pokemon more versatile. Whether you've played the previous games or not, Pokemon Platinum is a fantastic RPG with tons of depth. If you get into things like breeding and competitive play, you can easily burn hundreds of hours on this game.
Article Written By Raymond Padilla