Pokémon Platinum journal - entry two

I’ve finally gotten past the hurdle of Pokémon below level thirty not obeying me, as I’ve now beaten three gyms. While Gardenia’s gym battle was rather typical of a second gym as well as a Grass type gym, Fantina’s Ghost type gym was easily my favorite thus far. The puzzle element and notably higher number of trainers within made the pattern less predictable, while the specific Pokémon owned by Fantina had nicely varied movesets.

The routes between towns, however, are becoming notably less impressive, with pathways that zig and zag for no real reason, and only slight variation in an otherwise straightforward (if not cramped) pathway. I don’t care much for Platinum’s insistence on adding extra complexity to previously simple things, either. The bike is no longer just a means for faster transportation, but must be used to speed over certain hills in order to progress, while there is a whole system in place for laying down mulch for replanting trees and, in turn, picking more berries. The bike hills could have easily been replaced with the small bushes that need to be cut by a Pokémon, as you get both that HM and the bicycle around the same time. Meanwhile, the berry tree planting process seems counter-intuitive for a game aimed largely at young gamers.

I’m similarly none too impressed with severely limited number of wild Pokémon I’ve encountered by this point. The Team Galactic storyline is making some headway, the people of the Sinnoh region have noticed their presence, and the gym leaders have all presented distinct styles and personalities. But I’ve seen more Geodudes, Machops, and Bidoofs than I care to count, with Starlys and Shinxes being the next most common. I went ahead and caught a single Clefairy shortly before facing Gardenia, simply because of the fact that I had never caught one during any of my previous Pokémon adventures. It may be true that I plan to stick to my core team of six, predetermined Pokémon, but a little more variety in the wild encounters would be nice. The Togepi that Cynthia gave me only compounded my frustrations with this – I had no interest in using Togepi any of the four times I trekked through Johto in Gold/Soul Silver, and that certainly hasn’t changed now.

I’ve only dabbled in the extra content a little bit, and neither the Amity Square distractions nor the Underground bonus area impressed me much. The Underground might have been more immediately exciting had I picked up Platinum during its heyday, but the act of needing to track down another player who owns Diamond, Pearl, or Platinum in order to catch one of the more elusive and interesting Pokémon, Spiritomb, seems like a ton of unnecessary hassle. Why not make it so that players could just interact thirty-odd times with another player in any of the generation IV games via the Pokémon Center’s Union Room? As for Amity Square, all I got out of it were a few halfway-decent items to add to my backpack. I’m seriously hoping that this is the low point of the game, and that things will go up from here, because while Platinum started off strong enough, it reached a seriously obnoxious pattern of repetition and ill-conceived hindrances not long after the first gym.

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