If Your Time is Limited, Which Pokémon Game Should You Play?
It’s virtually impossible to be completely unfamiliar with Pokémon. As a franchise, it has usurped such titans as Mickey Mouse in terms of global brand familiarity. The anime has produced new episodes uninterruptedly for over two decades. The card game has dozens of full-fledged expansions. The plushies are everywhere. More than all the rest combined, the video games are downright ubiquitous.
Whether you’re just getting started on your Pokémon adventures or you’re a seasoned veteran of all eight generations and counting, there’s no denying the fact that Pokémon Platinum and Pokémon Black & White are superb entries. Chock full of features and with visuals that have held up surprisingly well, many fans consider these games to be the zenith of developer Game Freak’s achievements. In short, they’re an excellent representation of the series for newcomers to enjoy and among the most replayable entries around.
That said, these are very different Pokémon games. All things being equal, we here at I♡N would advise you to play Platinum and one of either Black and White to get the best of both worlds. But tons of free time is a luxury many of us cannot afford. So let’s take a look at what each of these games has going for it to help you determine which one to fall in love with today!
Major Differences Between Pokémon Platinum and Pokémon Black & White
Perhaps the most obvious difference between Platinum and Black &White is that one of them is technically two games. What gives? The answer’s actually pretty simple. Multiple generations of Pokémon games have begun with two different versions — each with certain exclusive critters and other minor alterations — and then, a year or two later, released a third version that feels like the definitive game. Pokémon Platinum is the fourth generation’s definitive version, succeeding Diamond & Pearl as the best way to experience the Sinnoh region.
Black & White, on the other hand, are the main games from the following generation. They follow the conventions of Diamond & Pearl before them, with minor deviations but nothing major; unlike Platinum, there is no “definitive” version for the fifth generation. This is hardly an issue, however, given that Platinum fixes many of the mistakes made in the development of its direct predecessors but Black & White are terrific in their own right.
With all of that out of the way, we can move on to more important comparisons.
As previously mentioned, Platinum takes place in the chilly Sinnoh region, a large island with the astounding heights of Mount Coronet at its center. Much of the region remains relatively untouched, full of scenic routes and memorable landmarks. It also sports a high number of catchable Pokémon throughout its meaty single-player campaign, with representatives from each of the four generations up until that point. In other words, you can expect to see famous faces like Pikachu from Kanto, Espeon from Johto, and Medicham from Hoenn. The team you choose to train will be all sorts of varied and there’s a good chance it will be packed with all-stars.
Black & White present perhaps the most monumental shift in the Pokémon franchise. In some ways, nothing so revolutionary has come in the three generations following the fifth! What makes Black & White such an immediate departure is its “soft reboot” vibe. From the very first town all the way until the end of the main story, players are stuck with the 155 new species created specifically for Black & White’s bustling Unova region. For the first time in series history, there was no option to just fill your team with Pikachu, Eevee, and Charizard and pretend you were in Kanto all over again. Black & White make you think; you have to get to know the local monsters and learn to distinguish the greats from the geeks. (Sorry, Alolamola, but you’re just not useful at all.)
Additionally, Black & White’s entire region is pretty much as different from Platinum’s as possible. Unova is modeled in many ways after New York City and its outlying areas, which should tell you what to expect from the main settlements. Indeed, the cities are a spectacle and nearly every route you’ll explore is paved and driven over. It’s one more way that Black & White make their mark as truly unique entries. You may also find yourself surprisingly moved by the trials and tribulations of a certain character, known only as N, whose upbringing hasn’t exactly been peachy. Black & White tells a darker story than any other Pokémon games.
Reasons to Choose Pokémon Platinum
Now on to the nitty-gritty. You’re here for help on which Pokémon game to play and we’re here to answer. You’ll want to play Platinum if you’d prefer a more traditional experience with all the grandeur that the Nintendo DS line of Pokémon titles can afford. Sinnoh is vast and steeped in nature. It’s also sprawling. The routes are filled with twists and turns that may remind old-school fans that this degree of complexity has been lacking in more modern Pokémon games.
Pokémon Platinum is the ultimate “original” chapter in the franchise’s ample annals. It represents a fully-realized vision of all that came before it and remains perfectly playable today.
Reasons to Choose Pokémon Black & White
As you’ve no doubt determined, Pokémon Black & White turn Platinum’s qualities on their head. They are still wonderful games! You should play one or the other (or both!) if you crave something different. Something bolder. Unova is hip and happening. The more reserved roster of available Pokémon is hardly a weakness when it’s composed entirely of natives. Even now, many of Unova’s most handy critters aren’t especially well-known among more casual players.
Even the music is weirder in Black & White. The games feature one of the strangest soundtracks in the series, with vibrant electronic jams and hard-hitting beats to contrast Platinum’s more subdued, fantasy-based, score. It’s as if the creators of Black & White sought every opportunity to shout from Unovan rooftops, “this is not Platinum.” If the word “weird” is your favorite mood, these are the games for you.
You Can’t Go Wrong!
There’s no right or wrong way to play Pokémon, and while certain entries (including Platinum and Black & White) are among the more highly-regarded, there are no downright duds in the storied franchise. The games are designed to be picked up and played in any order.
The fourth and fifth generations are remembered so fondly for myriad reasons, including the bonkers amount of content packed into every game. Platinum is the pinnacle of the more emblematic Pokémon presentation; Black & White are the yang to Platinum’s yin, hitting the highest mark among the less conventional chapters. The one thing the games share in common is their amazing quality. So pick one from our library and begin your very own Pokémon journey!