If you found yourself trapped in a world only inhabited by Pokémon, what would you do?
Start a Rescue Team with the first Pokémon you meet, of course!
“Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX” released March 6 and serves as a remake of the original “Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Red/Blue Rescue Team” games that were released for the Gameboy Advance and Nintendo DS in 2006.
The game sees the player thrown into a world populated by Pokémon, finding themselves transformed from human to Pokémon in the process.
The species of Pokémon the player turns into is dependent on a quick personality quiz that is given at the start of the game, a staple of the series.
However, long gone are the days of having to reset the game completely if you don’t get a monster you want as this time players have the choice of choosing a different Pokémon manually if they are not satisfied with the outcome of the quiz.
After being assigned or choosing the player Pokémon, players are able to choose their partner from the remaining creatures that were not chosen.
Players are then thrust into this world and almost immediately into the game’s core feature, the Mystery Dungeons.
Mystery Dungeons are randomly generated areas divided up into different floor levels that the player and their partner explore, battling other Pokémon, collecting items, and completing quests.
Battles in the dungeons are partially similar to other Pokémon games as they are turn based, however, rather than just the attacks being turn based, the entire movement system is as well.
This means that enemies only move when the player moves, allowing the players to take time in devising a strategy while standing still.
After traversing the initial Mystery Dungeon and rescuing a lost Caterpie, the player and their partner form a Rescue Team to help other Pokémon in need.
Almost all the gameplay takes place in these Mystery Dungeons aside from a few activities that can be completed in the hub area of the game, known as Pokémon Square.
At Pokémon Square, players can access a shop to purchase and sell items to use, a bank to store money, a storage center to hoard items, a training dojo to level up faster, the post office where missions can be accepted and the Wigglytuff Guild.
The Wigglytuff Guild is an area where players can buy different Friend Areas in order to recruit different Pokémon to a Rescue Team based on which areas are unlocked.
Yet unlike the original games where players could walk around the Friend Areas and see all the Pokémon living in them, the Friend Areas have been reduced to menu screens with static sprites.
Another change made to the Friend Areas comes in the form of feeding your companions Gummis, items that previously raised their Skill IQ to level up certain special abilities.
Now, rather than Skill IQ, abilities have been simplified to Rare Qualities, abilities that can be given to a Pokémon or changed by feeding them certain types of Gummis.
This change can be rather frustrating as the new ability that a Pokémon can learn is randomized, but players have the ability to keep the one from before if they dislike the new one.
On the other hand, the introduction of Rare Qualities also streamlines the process of recruiting as both the player and their partner can learn abilities that increases the chance of a Pokémon wanting to join the team.
This addition also makes for interesting boss battles when you have recruited Pokémon in that dungeon. Normally the Rescue Teams are comprised of three characters, but when recruiting Pokémon in a dungeon, they will follow you until you make it to the last floor.
With the ability to recruit up to five additional members during a dungeon excursion, boss battles can be taken on with up to a total of eight Pokémon, making the fights a lot easier than intended.
In terms of gameplay, a lot of the game has stayed the same aside from minor tweaks such as the addition of Mega Evolutions that temporarily power up your Pokémon.
The presentation, however, is entirely different.
Where the original games had pixel sprites to represent the creatures, items, and landscapes, “Mystery Dungeon DX” uses 3D models, all textured in a remarkable watercolor paint-like style that resembles the original menu and promotional art used for the games in the past.
This painterly style certainly makes for a visually appealing game, allowing background environments to pop in 3D space rather than having to look at pixel art from a bird’s eye view.
A fresh coat of proverbial paint does not always make what was old entirely new again, though.
The mission-based structure certainly isn’t for everybody, especially when that’s all a player can do between different story missions that only appear after a certain number of missions have been completed.
The dungeon crawling gameplay can also feel repetitive at times, so much so that the remake added an “Auto” feature that controls the Pokémon and explores the dungeon for the player.
If you are a fan of games that require loot and experience grinding and gameplay that you can sit back and listen to a podcast to, then “Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX” might be a suitable fit.
The game is certainly not perfect by any means, but as upgrades go to previously released titles, there are definitely remakes that are a whole lot worse to play.