Pokemon Explained

Pokemon platPokémon Platnium on DS

The latest incarnation of the global phenomenon is among us. If you've resisted so far there is no longer any escape.

Pokémon isn't a game, it isn't a kid's game and it certainly isn't a craze. Pokémon is a phenomenon. When it was released in 1996 we were riveted by Dolly the cloned sheep, Tupac Shakur and the brilliant Day Of The Tentacle by Lucas Arts. Only Pokémon soldiers on today and it just keeps getting stronger and stronger...

Pokémon at a glance...

  • Pokémon stands for Pocket Monster.
  • The game was released in 1996 and was created by Satoshi Tajiri.
  • There are 493 species of monster in the game.
  • Pokémon is a role-playing game where you capture ad then train monsters to battle against each other.
  • By 2008 Pokémon had sold 186 million copies worldwide making it second only to the Mario games in terms of videogame success.
  • As well as a the videogames, two TV shows, a trading card game and a series of Manga books there's also a 747 Jumbo Jet with a Pokémon paintjob, a theme park and a slew of merchandise.

Pokemon typesPokemon types

The release cycle for Pokémon games is well established so Pokémon Platinum, while welcome, is not a bolt from the blue for those well-versed in Pokémon lore. The pattern goes like this: a new Pokémon game or playing system is created and two games are released simultaneously. These games share the new playing system and differ only in the Pokémon monsters available in the game. Then, a little time later (two years in the case of Pokémon Platinum) a compendium edition is released that includes the monsters from both games and perhaps one or two slight game tweaks. Pokémon Platinum is a combination of Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl, which were released in 2007.

The mini games, the atmosphere, the Wi-Fi tweaks and even the music are as good as it gets.

Is it impossible to start?

At the heart of every Pokémon game is a basic premise that is no more complex than a game of Scissors Paper Stone. That simplicity means that anyone can start playing the game. However once you begin the depth of play can give you vertigo and this is what so recommends the game: usually a strategy game that can boast the options and depth of Pokémon Platinum would demand a PhD's worth of research for anyone to get involved. The reality however, is that anyone can get involved, immediately.

The basicstrainer

Pokémon are little creatures that fight each other. You are a Pokémon trainer and can train up to six Pokémon at a time. Pokémon can be found in the wild or under the control of other trainers. Pokémon have one of three character elements Fire, Water and Grass. Fire beats grass, grass beats water and water beats fire. However, in addition to this there are a further 17 elements and Pokémon can have one or more of these. Add to this four moves per creature, each one with its own element, and the game's possibilities start pirouetting off into a dizzying mathematical whorl.

The play is all about the Pokémon. As a trainer you start out by hunting them out in Sinnoh, the region of Poke world that Platinum is set in. You capture them, train them and then battle them against rival in-game trainers, wild Pokémon and online against the world's Pokémon.

It'll take you more than 20 hours to complete the main quest but that doesn't mean that it's then game over. Oh no, that just means the whole thing opens up for even more fun. Initially the Battle Frontier opens up, which is Pokémon stripped down to its simplest form. In this section you travel to an island away from the main play area, rent a team of Pokémon and fight against progressively tougher trainers. This lends itself to effectively training you, increasing your battle skills and teaching you how to craft a well-balanced team. Skills which you will soon be itching to try out against friends or in the Wi-Fi Plaza area for random play against other players worldwide.

If you've played Pokémon before then you'll know all you need to about the phenomenon and all you need to know now is that this is the game at its absolute pinnacle. The mini games, the atmosphere, the Wi-Fi tweaks and even the music are as good as it gets. If, however, you are new to this then simply be aware that just dipping your toe into Pokémon will soon see you immersed in a whole new gaming universe and it's a deeply pleasant and rewarding experience.


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