Here is how I discovered that Pokémon Platinum has just been released: I can’t log in to Serebii or Bulbapedia. It started with long load times and hanging, and now the 404 messages are starting to crop up. The same phenomenon occured two years ago during the Diamond & Pearl launch; the excitement surrounding the release of a new Pokémon game gets players thinking about stat tables and hidden values. I’ve been spending a lot of time with the ‘mons and Platinum seems like a worthy upgrade, but I’m going to pass for the time being. I’ve gone back to basics — and back to Hoenn.
I started with Pokémon Red during the Fall of 1998. I was working the late shift at a 7-11 and would get home at 7 A.M. to Beast Wars and Pokemon. Whatever your feelings on the animated series it does a great job of explaining the game. When I received a Game Boy Color the following Christmas, Pokémon was the first game I bought. I was living alone in a new town where I didn’t have any friends and without anyone to play with I lost interest after about a month. It wasn’t until I made some new friends (two very great guys who were also too old to be playing Pokemon) that the game really clicked with me. With their help I got my Pokedex up to 146, just five shy of the game’s 151.
And when Pokémon Gold & Silver were released 2 years later (and the day before my birthday), I braced myself for a resurgence that never came. It had new monsters, night/day cycles, backwards compatibility and was generally superior, but by that point I had moved again, and without anyone to play with my interest withered on the vine. And then I completely ignored the series until Diamond and Pearl, wooed back with the promise of wi-fi connectivity and online trades, only to realise I had missed an entire generation of gameplay changes. So I’m traveling back, replaying the GBA era games with the goal of building a team that will succeed in Hoenn (Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald) and Kanto (Fire Red/Leaf Green) but with an eye towards Sinnoh (Diamond/Pearl/Platinum) as well. Because I am sure of two things: (1) I love playing Pokémon and (2) the series will march on with its clockwork release (and re-release) schedule indefinitely, which means the time I spend playing will count towards future games — an irresistible proposition given my ever-shrinking free time. As the saying goes, make new friends but keep the old…
And to anyone reading who loves classic games and has creative tendencies (a curious overlap with GameSpite readership) I would like to take a moment to direct you toward my wife Kate’s tutorial on making pixel paintings. They look daunting but if you start simple and have a little patience the results are fantastic. (I’m told the secret is to paint very, very straight lines)