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Critical Reception: Nintendo's Pokemon Platinum

This week's edition of Critical Reception looks at Nintendo's Pokemon Platinum, which reviewers say is "definitely worth a look, even if you've already filled out a Pokedex in every game up until this one."
This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Nintendo's Pokemon series expansion title Pokemon Platinum for DS, which reviewers say is "definitely worth a look, even if you've already filled out a Pokedex in every game up until this one." Pokemon Platinum currently earns a score of 86 out of 100 at Metacritic.com. GamePro's McKinley Noble gives Pokemon Platinum 4.5 out of 5 stars, explaining that the title is more of an enhanced version of the last two Pokemon releases than it is a full sequel. "Pokemon Platinum isn't really a sequel, but more like a director's cut," he says. "In the same tradition as Pokemon Yellow, Crystal and Emerald, Platinum is essentially the same game as Pokemon Diamond & Pearl, but with version-exclusive additions that range from fresh and innovative to somewhat nonessential." "Basically," Noble continues, "the more you like Pokemon, the more likely you'll savor and enjoy Platinum's small, but various differences from Diamond & Pearl. Luckily, there's enough new content that I can say Platinum's definitely worth a look, even if you've already filled out a Pokedex in every game up until this one." Unlike previous improvement titles in the series, Pokemon Platinum features a full graphical makeover. "For a pseudo-sequel, Platinum boasts an impressive amount of new things to see -- more than most Pokemon fans may be expecting from this game," Noble praises. "Everything in Platinum, from the environments and music to the animations of battle sprites has been altered, and it should be apparent even to the average player that the world looks and feels different." The result is an experience that feels less like a retread than it otherwise would. "It's already a relief that the hundreds and hundreds of Pokemon battles in Platinum have some variety to them, but I also didn't expect so many towns and dungeons to get a complete graphical and structural facelift," Noble says. "Game Freak's development team obviously spent a lot of time refining several levels in the game, and they sometimes just outright remodeled the layout of entire stages in the game where they just could have been lazy and copied Diamond & Pearl." Noble warns that casual series fans may not find the improvements to be worth another playthrough, however. "Yes, Pokemon Platinum is the same great game as Diamond & Pearl, with plenty of major changes and minor tweaks for hardcore fans of the series, but even the addictive and inventive gameplay may not be enough for more casual DS players to enter the world of Sinnoh a second time." he warns. "Still, if you like your Pokemons, get ready for an improvement on near-perfection." Robert Workman at GameDaily rates Pokemon Platinum at 8 out of 10. "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," he begins. "There are a few additions, however, that make this game worth the purchase." Pokemon Platinum introduces an alternate gameplay world and features a darker storyline overall. "The atmosphere has changed dramatically, shifting the paradigm of the Pokemon universe from bright and sunny to dark and cold," Workman notes. "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." "It sounds super-dramatic," Workman continues, "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." Workman praises Pokemon Platinum's new multiplayer features, some of which return from previous Pokemon titles. "Wi-Fi also plays a huge part with the Battle Recorder, a returning feature from the previous Emerald game," he explains. "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." "Yeah, Pokemon Platinum could've undergone a few more visual upgrades beyond the weirdly-designed Distortion Town," Workman admits. "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." At Games Radar, Carolyn Gudmundson gives Pokemon Platinum a score of 8 out of 10. "It's a cycle nearly as old as time itself: Nintendo releases two marginally different Pokemon games, and then a year or so later a third version comes out that compiles the few differences between the two and renders them both obsolete," she begins. "Aside from a few more obtainable Pokemon this time around, there are a plethora of small changes throughout, including aesthetic changes, storyline changes and some small gameplay changes." Overall, however, Gudmundson finds that many of Platinum's improvements matter little in the context of gameplay. "Lots of little things have been 'freshened up' in Platinum," she writes, "but there aren't any major changes or additions – it's really Diamond and Pearl again, dusted off, sprayed with some air freshener, and repackaged. Or maybe Diamond and Pearl: The Remix would be a better description." Gudmundson feels that Platinum's new minigames lack longevity. "Aside from the obtainable Pokemon, the biggest notable addition is also the most disappointing – the new Wi-Fi Plaza, featuring three completely mindless minigames," she says. "Each game supports up to four random players from around the world, but none will hold your interest for long – they're all about as basic and as casual as it gets and don't really seem to fit in to the general scheme of a Pokemon game at all." "On the other end of the spectrum, the other major addition is the Battle Frontier," Gudmundson continues, "which combines the old Battle Tower from Diamond and Pearl and adds four additional areas each with their own battle parameters. This is the upgrade that hardcore battle champions will appreciate the most, because it's the closest you'll get to an actual battle challenge outside of battling with your other hardcore friends or entering a tournament." While Gudmundson feels that Pokemon Platinum falls short as an expansion pack, she notes that the overall package is still a worthwhile purchase for series fans. "In a vacuum void of Pokemon franchise history, Pokemon Platinum would easily score a 10 – its depth and replayability are completely unrivaled among any other game series," she says. "However, after more than 10 years, we really expect more from the series at this point. Except for the most shallow of casual players, added minigames do not even remotely constitute an improvement. "For fans though, it's nearly impossible to resist playing through again, and the new Formes are unfortunately just enough to give us the PokeFever all over again."

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