Pokemon Platinum tore through Japan like Godzilla on an acid trip, as Nintendo managed to sell a million copies in two days. This, despite it being a remake of Diamond and Pearl with a handful of extras. Then again, considering us Americans shoot one another for video game consoles, it's no surprise that the land of Pikachu erupted to score its latest battle monster fix.
As with all Pokemon games, Nintendo slapped a different character on the packaging. In this case, it's Giratina, a caterpillar/dragon/ghost/that's-a-horrifying-monster that looks like it can kill whatever it wants. It also turns out that the game's Sinnoh region (the same one from Diamond and Pearl) is a bit chillier, thanks to a disturbance atop Mt. Coronet that opened a portal to the Ruined World. To compensate, all of the trainers wear winter clothing, lest they turn to popsicles while rummaging for wild Pokemon.
Aside from the ugly critter on the box and the frigid storyline, Pokemon Platinum plays similar to every Pokemon game before it. You play as a trainer (you'll choose between a boy or a girl) and set off on an adventure that'll enable you to acquire new Pokemon, battle other trainers and subsequently fill your Pokedex. In addition, you'll choose one Pokemon to start (Turtwig, Chimchar or Piplup), and through competition transform this lowly creature into a cute and ruthless killing machine. Sure, you'll run into new characters and 210 starter Pokemon, including Rotom, a strange creature with five forms, one of which is a lawnmower. But make no mistake, Platinum is not a true sequel in the sense that it advances the genre.
That doesn't mean it's not enjoyable. On the contrary, we can't wait to dive into its role-playing innards and collect Pokemon. We're also impressed with Torn World, a gravity- defying dungeon that has us walking on walls and upside down.
Battle Frontier, from Pokemon Emerald, makes a welcome return, throwing numerous challenges your way. There's also a Battle Recorder at the Global Trade Center, which lets you save your videos and upload them via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Alternatively, you can download other players' videos, search for specific teams and view the most popular videos.
Similar to the previous Pokemon games, Platinum has online play. You'll need to use friend codes (there's no random matchmaking), but you can still enjoy one-on-one battles with friends or someone willing to trade said codes. Nintendo makes a weak attempt at random play with three mini games (balloon popping with Wobbuffet, balancing with Mime Jr. and a game where you toss cherries into Swalot's mouth), but none of them are the same as competing against gamers from across the planet in good old fashioned Pokemon smack downs.
Yes, it's a remake of games that came out over a year ago, and sure, it doesn't seem to reinvent the franchise, but that doesn't make Pokemon Platinum less anticipated. It's just a shame we have to wait until next year until the game arrives in the U.S. But fear not, dear trainer. We'll have enough coverage to fill every last Poke Ball in Sinnoh.