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Combining the dual Pokémon releases, Pearl and Diamond, which came out two years ago, Platinum is the best version of the franchise to date. The small changes from the previous games aren't enough to warrant playing it again, but for newcomers like me it's the perfect introduction to the franchise. It might look and have a "kiddie" reputation, but it was a surprisingly deep and rewarding Japanese role playing game that I never expected to enjoy as much as I did.
It's another one of my gaming misdemeanours that I've never touched a Pokémon game until now. The irresistible urge to collect 'em all has never flowed through my veins and, although I'm a great fan of RPG's, I've barely given Pokémon a second glance. Until now.
I've been fortunate to come into the Pokemon world with this release of Platinum as it's essentially an amalgam of the last two releases, Diamond and Pearl. This version adds a few new areas and some subtle changes to make it an even better experience.
I'll be honest and say how much I thought this was a kid's game at first. After all, the entire concept of Pokémon's seemed to me to be little more than furry balls of cuteness to swoon over. But after only a few hours my preconceptions were blown away by how deep and addictive this game is.
It didn't take long for the bug to bite and I soon had to buy another copy so my son would stop pestering me for a game.
The start is very welcoming and although it seemed a little banal I really enjoyed following the story. The characters were endearing without being too cute and the enemies, Team Galactic are more humorous than threatening. But none of the plot really made any difference to me which was a shock. I'm usually putting that at the forefront of my gaming expectations but for Pokémon it really did become about collecting creatures.
It didn't take long for the bug to bite and I soon had to buy another copy so my son would stop pestering me for a game. The ability to assign names to all the Pokémon will sound like such a small feature, but it made all the difference to me and how I played the game. They instantly changed from virtual characters into pets that I started to form an attachment with. This is the trick which turned it into an addictive game. There was no way I was going to be happy until I collected them all.
As far as I can tell, all the traditional gameplay to the Pokémon series is here as normal. My son, who has played the previous games, pointed out that the little additions to the Platinum version really didn't amount to much. But even the smallest change refreshes the experience and makes the game instantly replayable.
The basic gameplay revolves around having a team of six Pokémon, battling other trainers and wild Pokémon in traditional turn-based combat. The four moves available are based on the elements, fire, water, wind and grass, with each Pokémon having some sort of weakness to a certain element. Because of this collecting different Pokémon became essential to take down the trickier ones. This was all very traditional and I felt like I was playing a handheld game from ten years ago.
But I don't mean that in a negative way. These simple mechanics fit the game snugly and it's the reason why the series has been so popular and accessible. If the combat system was any more complicated then my son wouldn't give it the time of day.
There's simply no substitute for playing along with someone right next to you and my Son and I had many hours of great Pokémon fun.
The most additive part of the game is the Battle Frontier. This has five battle facilities which raise the difficultly level up with some excellent challenges. Fighting battles without any breaks and having restrictions placed on what you do with your Pokémon's really got the juices going. It provided a little hardcore edge to the game I wasn't expecting.
Another unexpected addition is the Wi-Fi play. The Battle Frontier is one section that I was able to go through with my son via the multiplayer. By registering with the Wi-Fi Club I was also able to partner up with anyone else in the world. Although there's simply no substitute for playing along with someone right next to you and my Son and I had many hours of great Pokémon fun.
Although my love affair with the Pokémon franchise is in its early stages I still have some gripes over the game. Firstly the touchscreen integration is just too minimal for a modern DS game. I can understand remakes of old franchises ignoring the stylus as they were never designed with that in mind. But Platinum shouldn't just be a remake. Surely the franchise deserves a stylish and modern overhaul? Instead, this feel like a game I can play on a Gameboy Advance rather than a DSi.
But I'd be fooling myself if this was really an issue for me. The addictive nature of the game is well and truly flowing through my gaming veins. I've turned from one of those people to dismiss it out of hand and become a Pokémon addict. Now I play the game at every opportunity and yes, one day I will catch 'em all.
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