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Mark Marrow
08 Nov, 2006

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Blue Rescue Team Review

DS Review | A tiresome dungeon crawler that'll have you begging for a real Pokémon game.
With the release of the tradition Pokémon games still a little while off, Nintendo hasn’t stopped the Pokémon-love for DS gamers, with there being several spin-offs already populating the system’s diverse library of games. With a racing game and puzzle game already available, the experience for Pokémon fans has been a little disappointing (in terms of traditional gameplay). And while Mystery Dungeon retains a few gameplay elements; the overall experience is far from perfect.

Mystery Dungeon is a return of Chunsoft’s dungeon crawling series that has seen releases with such franchisers as Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. Up until now, the majority of these titles have remained in Japan, despite dungeon crawlers being typically well received by Western gamers. Much like previous games, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon requires you to form a party and explore randomly generated dungeons, while defeating all sorts of baddies along the way. In typical Pokémon fashion, there’s also an alternative version readily available on the GBA, with virtually no differences whatsoever.

In Mystery Dungeon you begin your adventure after waking up from a bad dream and realising you’ve turned into a Pokémon. Being completely oblivious as to how you turned into a Pokémon and where you are, you’re soon met by a friendly Pokémon who always has the intentions of helping you out, and eventually wanting to form a rescue team with you (a team that helps other Pokemon). The beginning of the game kicks-off with you and your friend tackling all sorts of quests that’ll require you to rescue other Pokémon, defeat ravaging bosses, escort Pokémon and find rare items. Soon enough, the entire process of accepting new missions, and fulfilling them, becomes quite tiresome and repetitive with most missions being quite similar between each other. However, despite its constant repetitiveness, there’s an engaging story to accompany the game, and works well as an incentive to continue playing until the very end.


Expect to see many familiar faces.


The differences between regular Pokémon games and Mystery Dungeon are quite significant. Firstly, you’ll only be able to have a party of four other Pokémon (not the traditional six), you’ll only have control over one Pokémon while the rest are computer-controlled and the combat is quite significantly different too. While the combat is still mostly turn-based, you’ll be able to freely move your Pokémon around in a real-time fashion. In addition, there are certain moves that can only be used in close range, while certain moves can be used even if the enemy is several squares away from you. Ultimately, this new system works quite well and offers a new sense of strategy, since you’ll be able to throw items, use long-ranged attacks and optimise beneficial powers before the enemy even comes within range. Unfortunately though, the combat does become very simple and your Pokémon always seem to be a good 10+ levels higher than the Pokémon that populate the dungeons – which means you’ll be able to run through most of the dungeons just by using simple moves. Equally disappointing is the fact that the computer-controlled Pokémon aren’t particularly smart in their decisions. While there are items that’ll improve their intelligences (that’ll make them smarter during combat) they usually have terrible path finding skills where they’ll end up running in the opposite direction as you intended – and quite often too.

Similarly, Mystery Dungeon also lacks traditional features such as Pokémon trainers, gyms and the ability to actually freely explore the world. Instead, you’ll be restricted to a Pokémon town where you’ll be able to buy items, store money and accept new quests. In addition to this, there’s also a lack of freedom in terms of freely exploring new areas, since most of the time you’re restricted to revisiting dungeons or new dungeons just to progress the story. There’s no open-world to explore at all.

Like other Pokémon games you’ll also be able to ‘capture’ new Pokémon for your rescue team. Rather than using Pokéballs, new Pokémon will join your team as you fulfil quests, fight Pokémon or even due to story progression. The whole purpose of actually recruiting new Pokémon becomes pointless since by the time new Pokémon join your team they’ll be several levels lower than your core team, which consists of you and the Pokémon you met at the beginning. So, for most of the game, you’ll have absolutely no trouble tackling all of the game’s tasks with just two Pokémon, which just highlights how incredibly simple this game is. The whole fun aspect of traditional Pokémon games where you could train and capture new Pokémon is all but worthless in Mystery Dungeon.

The dungeons themselves are random generated, which means every time you enter a dungeon each floor will be different from the last one. Various items (such as TMs) and Pokémon occupy these dungeons, meaning you’ll have to keep a watchful eye on where you go. There are other interesting elements such as weather effects and hunger metres that put a completely different spin on things. Some levels will include weather effects such as hail that’ll act as an over-time damaging effect, while there’ll be others that’ll affect your probability of using some attacks. Hunger is also interesting, since you must continually feed your Pokémon the further they travel through a dungeon. If you refuse to feed them they’ll quickly pass out and it’ll act as a defeat. Despite the random generated dungeons incorporated into the game, it isn’t without its flaws. There will be times where dungeons will generate stairs that lead to the next floor right in front of you, surround your party with enemies, or have poor placement of terrain.


After a few hours of game time, a lot of the dungeons will become quite familiar too.


What’s really disappointing is that the DS version looks and sounds in everyway like a GBA game, with virtually no features that distinguishes it. Despite some gimmicky features such as moving your team around with the touch-screen and having the top screen providing stats, the two versions are identical. The graphics aren’t anything that can’t be done on the GBA, and the sound is the same story. Unless you want to capture all of the Pokémon, then the DS version is probably the better choice, especially since they retail for the same price (or little difference).

Multiplayer has also been reduced quite a bit too compared to previously games in the series. You won’t have the opportunity to battle against other players, and the ability to connect to previous Pokémon games is absent. What is available though is a few minor exchange options such as trading quests and items, as well as passwords so you can venture in other player’s dungeons. These all feel like novelty features that are tacked on just so you are pressured into buying another version or forcing a friend to do so.

Despite the series having a fantastic appeal to gamers of all-ages, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon has a very limited scope that’ll only target a small group of fans. Its radical new approach to gameplay pretty much neglects all of the traditional gameplay options, and makes this game appear as a quick cash-in with the incentive of Pokémon added in for good measure. However, if you absolutely must have a Pokémon game that’ll tide you over before the release of Diamond and Pearl, then Pokémon Mystery Dungeon may work as a distraction. Just don’t expect the world from it, though.
The Score
Mystery Dungeon is far from being a poor game by any standards, it’s just a game that makes terrible choices that limit its appeal greatly. 6
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Blue Rescue Team Content

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Pokémon Mysterious Dungeon gets dated
07 Sep, 2005 Japanese date only though.
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23 Aug, 2005 First screenshots from the upcoming RPG for the Game Boy Advance and the DS.
8 Comments
7 years ago
Any rougelike is a good game icon_exclaim.gif

However in this case they seem to have put all their resources into implementing the 360 odd pokemon types rather than the huge gameplay improving item/material/limb/quest/deity systems found in the homebrew scene. icon_rolleyes.gif

None the less Chunsoft deserve praise for taking an existing genre and implementing it on the one console with one license that will generate the most sales.

btw if you havn't already and you are running a windows machine try IVAN its more fun than a barrel of monkeys (but slightly less fun than Monkey Island).
7 years ago
I friend of mine bought this saying "it's actually pretty good." Poor soul, I think he's in denial over the suckiness of some of the Pokemon games now a days. Bring on Gold and Silver!
7 years ago
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon IS good for fans... it just doesn't measure up to the originals.

Pokemon Ranger on the other hand appears to be a very solid game and well worth a look. We got ours Friday. icon_biggrin.gif
7 years ago
Whats with the German screenshot? Seems fairly dodgy.

Played a bit of this game. Though it was okay, but nothing great. Seems like it could potentially make the basis of a great free roaming, 3D Pokemon game, though, since Nintendo will no doubt chicken out of releasing an actual 3D Pokemon RPG.
7 years ago
MrAndyPuppy wrote
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon IS good for fans... it just doesn't measure up to the originals.

Pokemon Ranger on the other hand appears to be a very solid game and well worth a look. We got ours Friday. icon_biggrin.gif
I wouldn't mind hearing what you think of the game actually (Pokemon Ranger, that is).

The problem with Mystery Dungeon is that it isn't a bad game, it's just a very poorly made game. It's increadibly simple and repetitive, and I really didn't like the idea of running through the majority of the game with just two Pokemon and having no trouble finishing bosses (lame!). Not to mention that the DS version hasn't even bothered to include any features that shows that it's a DS game. Developers shouldn't be rewarded for that crap.

It's alright, but the developers could've easily fleshed out some of the problems with it; enemy balancing, more depth etc.
7 years ago
Mark wrote
MrAndyPuppy wrote
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon IS good for fans... it just doesn't measure up to the originals.

Pokemon Ranger on the other hand appears to be a very solid game and well worth a look. We got ours Friday. icon_biggrin.gif
I wouldn't mind hearing what you think of the game actually (Pokemon Ranger, that is).

The problem with Mystery Dungeon is that it isn't a bad game, it's just a very poorly made game. It's increadibly simple and repetitive, and I really didn't like the idea of running through the majority of the game with just two Pokemon and having no trouble finishing bosses (lame!). Not to mention that the DS version hasn't even bothered to include any features that shows that it's a DS game. Developers shouldn't be rewarded for that crap.

It's alright, but the developers could've easily fleshed out some of the problems with it; enemy balancing, more depth etc.
Jake just posted his review of Pokemon Ranger today http://www.gameparents.com/e107_plugins/gamereview/view_review.php?701

Remember he's only 9 and he struggles a bit with writing (and yeah, I corrected spelling/grammar like I would for any contributor) but he did pretty well. I suspect it doesn't have the depth you're after though Mark. icon_smile.gif
7 years ago
DancesInUnderwear wrote
Whats with the German screenshot? Seems fairly dodgy.

Played a bit of this game. Though it was okay, but nothing great. Seems like it could potentially make the basis of a great free roaming, 3D Pokemon game, though, since Nintendo will no doubt chicken out of releasing an actual 3D Pokemon RPG.
German screenshots??
7 years ago
Luke wrote
DancesInUnderwear wrote
Whats with the German screenshot? Seems fairly dodgy.

Played a bit of this game. Though it was okay, but nothing great. Seems like it could potentially make the basis of a great free roaming, 3D Pokemon game, though, since Nintendo will no doubt chicken out of releasing an actual 3D Pokemon RPG.
German screenshots??
It would appear someone's changed it to make me seem insane - but originally this picture was one of the screenshots in the article:
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  Nintendo
Developer:
  Chunsoft

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