Monday, September 9, 2013

Pokémon Platinum journal - entry one

As I mentioned in yesterday’s ‘Top 5 Legendary Pokémon’ post, Pokémon Platinum was the next title I intended to tackle. As luck would have it, the copy I ordered last week arrived a few days ahead of schedule. I spent a decent chunk of this afternoon starting up my game file and importing the majority of my team members from Soul Silver. Much like in my playthrough of Black 2, I plan to use a core team of six Pokémon, only rotating members out for the sake of traversing areas that require use of an HM to proceed. Aside from replaying Soul Silver with Hoenn starters and my brief adventures with Gale of Darkness, my time spent using Pokémon from generations III and IV has been relatively limited. As a result, my intended team members for the majority of Platinum version are as follows: Piplup, Torchic, Bulbasaur, Chingling, Aerodactyl, and Snorunt. Aerodactyl is in place to round out an otherwise notable weakness to Fire types, while Bulbasaur and Turtwig are the only two Grass starters I have never personally used in a core Pokémon game - and to be honest, I flat out dislike the way Turtwig and his evolutions look, despite his Grass/Ground typing being mildly interesting. I don’t really have anything against Chimchar, but I’ve always found Torchic and his evolutionary line far more interesting. As for Snorunt, I anticipate she will be the last member to join my team, as I ultimately intend to evolve her into Froslass.

This Platinum playthrough should, in theory, be equal parts familiar and new experiences. While I’m familiar with the generation IV engine via Soul Silver, the Sinnoh region and many of its native Pokémon are foreign to me. Also, the team members I have chosen to work with are types that have long served me well, while their dual typings and movesets are a bit different from what I have used in the past. I specifically chose Platinum over Diamond or Pearl for the reason that it is, to my understanding, a more complete package than its predecessors. From what I hear, there are more areas to explore, and the battles with gym leaders and Team Galactic executives are not only more challenging, but also present a greater degree of variety.

While I can say the game plays very similar to Soul Silver from the outset, Platinum does not appear to utilize the touch screen as frequently or as intelligently as in Soul Silver. The various towns see typical layouts, though the aesthetics of wind farms and coal mines are pleasing to look at. Extra little additions here and there like specks of snow lingering on pine trees and fields of flowers go a long way in making the Sinnoh region interesting to explore. From a graphical standpoint, Platinum is already proving that it looks as good if not better than Soul Silver. The soundtrack is equally impressive, and if it continues on the hot streak of interesting and memorable tunes it has dealt out thus far, could rank among my favorite soundtracks of the franchise.

Where Platinum sees its biggest falter early on, I think, is in its severe limitation of the usefulness of imported Pokémon. Whereas most Pokémon games will give you a slap on the wrist for boosting Pokémon over level ten prior to the first gym by making it so that there is a chance they may not listen to your commands, Platinum sets this benchmark even higher. You must beat the first two gyms before any imported Pokémon will obey you without question, and even then, if they are over level thirty, there is no guarantee that they will perform the specific attacks that you request. It may seem like a slight hurdle early on, and I admit, it is largely aimed at players like myself who intend to import all but one of their core team members, but it doesn’t make it any less obnoxious, especially when the second gym is filled with Grass types – something my Torchic-turned-Combusken should have no problem sweeping through, were it not for the fact that he only seems to want to listen to me every third attack or so.

My frustrations with that aside, I appreciate the fact that the intro segment is quick. The tradition of an NPC showing you how to catch a wild Pokémon and explaining the big adventure that awaits is all said and done in a matter of fifteen minutes, as opposed to the nearly forty-five it took in Soul Silver. Among the many things I hope they implement in X and Y would be the option to skip the tutorial section. There are enough people who have been playing Pokémon since the days of Red and Blue who do not need their hands held today, much less two generations ago.

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