Title: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Release Date: March 6, 2020
Reviewed On: Switch
Genre: Dungeon Crawling
The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon is something that I never thought I’d see a revival of. Sure, for someone like me the series was fun to play during lunch at school, but I never really heard many people talking about it. Well, regardless of what I thought, Spike Chunsoft is back with Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX. Little has changed since my days in high school as this game is still the comfort food it was almost 15 years ago.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX begins with the player, a human, being turned into a pokémon. The choice of which pokémon is decided by a series of questions, but it’s also possible to just choose whichever pokémon you want to be and begin your adventure. Players also choose their partner pokémon who will wake you up and offer to guide you through the world.
Without much time to think about your current situation, a pokémon is in need of your help. Descending through a dungeon to rescue the pokémon will encourage your partner to suggest putting together a Rescue Team. As a team, you are given missions to help other pokémon in need. Strangely, most of these missions revolve around pokémon who get lost deep inside of dungeons that they probably shouldn’t be in anyway.
The story becomes a bit chaotic as you figure out more about the state of the pokémon world and try to restore peace. Aside from taking on normal missions, story missions will lead you to reveal new areas as well as ways that you can be restored to your human self. The story takes itself rather seriously, in a playful sort of way. This creates a nice balance of narrative and mechanics, which can be appealing to gamers of any age.
At its core, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon is a roguelike dungeon-crawler RPG. In order for someone to even remotely enjoy what this title offers, they’ll need to enjoy the genre. Missions are accepted at a bulletin board that will require the player to visit dungeons. These missions are generally not story-based and only require players to rescue pokémon in need, deliver items, or lead a pokémon to a friend. If it sounds repetitive, well wouldn’t be wrong, but there are a few ways that the game makes it all worth it.
For one, fighting pokémon leads to the option to add them to your team. However, in order to add a pokémon to your team, you’ll need to have their specific camp purchased, which means you’ll need money. That brings us right back to completing the missions, which provides you with funds and items.
It’s a gameplay loop that effectively works in the long run because you always have some goal or another that brings you to these dungeons. Also, completing missions raises your Rescue Team score, which unlocks more items to hold along with additional bonuses. The game encourages players to visit dungeons multiple times and rewards them during each run. Often times, powerful enemies will roam around the floors, who yield better items.
Story missions unlock new dungeons, but they also progress the game’s unique narrative. A lot happens on this adventure, which makes it strange to be so invested in a story where Alakazam and Charizard hang out together and Gengar always gets into trouble. This is paralleled with a brand new visual design for the game where everything comes across like its right out of a storybook. I appreciated the visual upgrade for the game and how it made the adventure feel brand new.
Outside of missions, players are able to explore the town and speak with pokémon that they’ve helped. It’s possible to store and purchase items, deposit money, and train your Pokémon using tickets to power level them up. Players can also upgrade their house to be a more respectable Rescue Team base. While this doesn’t change the core gameplay, exploring the town generally breaks up the dungeon crawling aspects of the game.
Furthermore, there is an online feature where players can request the help of others if they die in a dungeon. Dying is pretty harsh as you lose your items and money, but there options to recover your lost goods. If the online feature isn’t something you’re interested in, you could also have your B-Rescue Team head out and save you.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon has some added accessibility options as well. Players can now put their game in Auto Mode and allow the Pokémon to make a b-line to items, Pokémon in need, close enemies, and the exit. It works surprisingly well. Also, attacks don’t have to be chosen by the player. Instead, the best attacks for a situation are automatically used with the press of the A button. Specific attacks can still be used, but the new attack feature works surprisingly well.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon focuses on making its gameplay more accessible to players of any age. The easier options and slower scale of difficulty make this apparent. I ended up liking this version more than the original if only because I died a lot less and found the progression to be easier to wrap my head around.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX is still the same dungeon-crawling RPG comfort food I remember from the DS version. However, the added systems change its core audience to include players of all ages, which make it the perfect entry point to the genre. Every moment of gameplay is met with a reward and the present game loop creates a substantial reason to return to dungeons countless times, across dozens of missions.
While the remake doesn’t do too much in terms of changing the core formula of what the series is, there’s enough here to warrant an additional playthrough.
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