I’m a big fan of Pokémon Diamond/Pearl. It provided, and actually still provides excellent distraction from the dreariness of travel. No having to stare out the window, make up words to put in ridiculously difficult crosswords, or awkward conversations with naggy girlfriends for me, not when I could be capturing little, cute, barely-animated critters and make them fight other critters for my own sadistic joy. I’ve always enjoyed the Pokémon series, and despite it causing some relationship issues and travel sickness, the DS installment was up there with the quality the franchise first showed on the Game Boy all those years ago. The Wi-Fi options, 2.5D graphics, simple touch-screen controls, and impressively large game world were all big wins for me. All of which is why the now-confirmed news of Pokémon Platinum, an “enhanced remake” of Diamond and Pearl (like Pokémon Yellow was to Red, Blue and Green), has left me saddened and frustrated.
Earlier this year, I oh-so-boldly predicted in a Soulcalibur IV preview that 2008 would be the year of the fighter’s return following an arguable spell of decline. Hardly the most audacious of predictions, given that at that time Super Smash Bros. Brawl had already kicked off the genre’s renaissance to great acclaim, with Street Fighter IV and Soulcalibur IV due to hit the shelves with heavy expectation. OK, so my soothsaying was a bit lacking in the chutzpah department, but five months on it remains correct. I’m currently reviewing Soulcalibur IV for a new website I’m helping out with (more on that soon), the new and out-of-left-field release of Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe has shown well at E3, as has Street Fighter IV at many event promotions for many months, and King of Fighters XII will hit Japanese arcades at the end of the year. If this last month is anything to go by, the art form known as button-mashing has got a few years ahead of it yet.
With all those new fighters on their way, it may seem a little odd that this article is actually about Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but you have to remember that I live on a little island that is somewhat reluctantly part of Europe. Brawl only reached our fair shores last month, some five bazillion years after it was in the grubby mitts of Japanese and American Wii owners. Anyway, I’ve complained about that before, so let’s skip the usually relentless whining and move on to the game itself.