So you've played Pokemon Pearl and Diamond to death, and you've been patiently waiting for the next big entry in the long-running Nintendo series. Well, wait no longer, as Pokemon Platinum is finally in stores. While the game is similar to the previous two Pokemon DS adventures, as you scour the Sinnoh region, capturing dozens of Pokemon while doing battle with rival trainers and members of the dreaded Team Galactic. There are a few additions, however, that make this game worth the purchase.
First off, the atmosphere has changed dramatically, shifting the paradigm of the Pokemon universe from bright and sunny to dark and cold. A portal to another world, the Distortion World, has pretty much slammed into the city, bringing with it a strange new legendary Pokemon, a half-Ghost/half-Dragon breed called the Giratina. Since you're a savvy Pokemon know-it-all armed with a helpful Pokedex and a selection of unique Pokemon creatures, you set out to solve the mystery behind this world, and stop Team Galactic's plan for universal domination.
It sounds super-dramatic, but Pokemon Platinum stays the course it's known for. You still engage in a number of battles, selecting the right Pokemon for the job to counter enemy Pokemon. If you don't have the right one on hand, not to worry. Sinnoh is flooded with various types of Pokemon, so you're bound to stumble across the right one to capture with your trusty Pokeball. There are over 200 varieties in all, and once your journey ends, you can spread them out to other Pokemon games, adding to your growing population of Pokemon. (A Poke-lation, perhaps?)
Yeah, we dare you to try and cram this thing in a Pokeball. Click to see more images from the game...
That might bring disappointment to those expecting something drastically new in the game. For the most part, the presentation is the same. You roam around Sinnoh in a top-down 3D perspective, interacting with many characters and then taking part in cinematic-style battles. Later on, however, you'll come across Distortion World, taking the game in a whole new direction. There's no law of gravity here, as you walk along walls and ceilings from an odd 3D viewpoint. It's a shame that it takes a few hours to get to this point in the game, but there's plenty to do in the meantime. Platinum features several side quests and missions to complete, to the point that you find something new around each corner. Pokemon experts will love the replay value, and newbies will also find that the game is easily approachable, even for first time players.
Along with the lengthy single-player component, Pokemon Platinum also supports Wi-Fi compatibility with others. You can team up with friends locally for quick Pokemon battles and trades, or stroll into the Wi-Fi Club. Here, you'll interact with other online trainers through a number of events, such as quick Friend battles, mini-games (such as throwing cherries into a Swalot's mouth or pumping balloons with a Wobbuffet), and watching a fireworks show and Pokemon parade. Sadly, there's no random option, meaning you have to register friend codes for each encounter you take part in. Nintendo should fix this for future Pokemon installments for those who just want to get into the heat of battle.
Wi-Fi also plays a huge part with the Battle Recorder, a returning feature from the previous Emerald game. Here, you record your Pokemon battles and upload them for others to see or you can download another player's video. It's interesting to watch other Pokemon trainers in battle, getting an idea for their tactics and perhaps even adapting them to your own. Also making a return is the Battle Frontier, a huge tailor-made facility to hone your Pokemon skills. There are several Pokemon tournaments and challenges throughout from rival trainers, so you'll always have fresh competition. Again, if you want to fight friends, you'll have to register codes, but at least the interaction works near flawlessly, without any bothersome lag.
Yeah, Pokemon Platinum could've undergone a few more visual upgrades beyond the weirdly-designed Distortion Town. And sure, the gameplay hasn't changed enough. Nevertheless, Pokemon Platinum delivers a single-player quest that lasts dozens of hours, and the Wi-Fi supported options, limited by Friend Codes as they may be, are still welcome. Platinum should have no problem living up to its name, selling a million-plus and guaranteeing the legacy of Pokemon will live on. So go on, catch 'em all.