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Pokémon Platinum

Shine pet.

Whilst collecting Pokémon might not be as insanely addictive as the Pokémon company's marketing would love you to believe, it is an excellent hook to keep you interested, especially during the inevitable periods of grind. It's a tricky balance between compelling and compulsive, however, and it's easy to get swamped by the hundreds of varieties on offer, or to feel like you've missed a really top-quality ally by not spending eight hours running up and down each single patch of grass in every area. It's very possible that you have, but it's really not necessary to have a full roster in order to progress and enjoy yourself.

In terms of improvements over Diamond/Pearl, Platinum is a little lacking. There are the obvious advantages of new pokédex entries, including the traditional addition of the box-art legendary. If you're a big fan of Diamond/Pearl then you might also notice the slightly tweaked gym layouts and minor graphical improvements, but others probably will not.

The big draw for single-player is a new dungeon: the Distortion World in which new ghost/dragon legendary Giratina resides. As the only major change in the gameworld for players of Diamond/Pearl, it's not that great a prospect. Accessed roughly 80 per cent of the way through the single-player quest, just after achieving the status of Pokémon champion, the Distortion World is a 3D puzzle zone which has trainers traversing ceilings and walls in an attempt to guide a block to a switch. There are precious few battles here, and although the puzzle element is a welcome respite from the grind, there's a good reason that people will be playing Pokémon in the first place rather than say, echochrome.

The Distortion World. Like, totally distorted.

The real big improvements come in the form of new multiplayer features. Pokémon can still be traded both wirelessly and via a Wi-Fi internet connection, but now an automated email can be sent to your Wii to notify you that a trade has been accepted. The Wi-Fi club also now allows players to tackle the challenging Battle Front along with a buddy. Beyond this is the Platinum-only Wi-Fi plaza, an area stashed away in the basement of Pokémon centres across the world - allowing access to a carnival-based multiplayer arena featuring mini-games. It's casual and unrelated to the story in any meaningful way, but offers another break from the capture/kill progression of the main quest.

The Battle Recorder is another innovative feature, allowing you to crib on other players styles before battling them by watching archived footage of their fights, or pick up a few tips on beating the toughest opponents. Recording and uploading your own fights to friends and foes is simple to do and a satisfying way of rubbing the proverbial salt in after a particularly satisfying victory.

Fact: people are not this large.

Pokémon is not a particularly pretty, welcoming or original prospect, and there's not really a great deal here to recommend it to anyone who's played a significant portion of Diamond/Pearl. Nor will it convert anyone who really can't take the grind and repeat of much of the gameplay. However, it is a solid, and incredibly polished, RPG. It feels like a first-party Nintendo release, with all of the pleasing quirks and satisfying balance which that often entails. If you want a true DS RPG then you might be better off picking up Chrono Trigger, Dragon Quest IV/V or one of the Final Fantasy remakes instead, but if you want to lose your Pokémon virginity, or re-ignite your passion for it, then Platinum is undoubtedly the definitive version to have. That is, until next time.

7 / 10

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