Video Game: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon
"Introducing the newest Pokémon ...
, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red/Blue Rescue Team
-themed entry in Spike Chunsoft's (originally Chunsoft's before the merger with Spike) Mystery Dungeon
(Fushigi no Dungeon
franchise. The games center around a world populated exclusively
by Pokémon (with no humans to be seen), who live in towns and cities, run shops, and go on adventures in randomly-generated dungeons
.Pokémon Mystery Dungeon
as a whole is notable from the main series for two reasons, one being that it's the first entries in the entire Pokémon franchise to place special emphasis on Character Development
and a compelling Story Arc
(as opposed to the series's usual quest To Be a Master
and to catch 'em all
), typically involving a human who awakens in the Pokémon's world
to discover that they've somehow been transformed into a Pokémon themselves. They become best friends with another Pokémon, form an adventure team, and go on a Quest for Identity
over the course of many adventures, as clues about their Mysterious Past
reveal that their ultimate destiny is nothing less than Save The World Climax
from an imminent destruction.
The second reason this spinoff series is notable? Because it's the first time we get to hear exactly what
the Pokémon are saying underneath all the Pokémon Speak
we've come to expect.
The gameplay is what you would expect from a Roguelike
, except with battle mechanics loosely resembling those of the main Pokémon series: All 400-plus individual species (which you can "recruit" to become members of your team), all 17 elemental types
, moves, abilities, and Standard Status Effects
from the main series show up in a manner better suited to the different nature of gameplay. The Pokémon themselves are represented faithfully with 8-directional walking and attacking sprites and dialogue portraits (an impressive feat in and of itself!).
The series comprises these installments:
- Red and Blue Rescue Team were released for the Game Boy Advance and the Nintendo DS in 2005. Like the main series, there were a few minor differences between the Red and Blue versions, but both were required for true 100% Completion note .
- Explorers of Time and Darkness, another pair of games with minor differences between them, released in 2008 and featuring Pokémon from the fourth generation, a tighter Story Arc, and many tweaks to the underlying gameplay. An Updated Re-release, Explorers of Sky, was released in 2009 with additional features, including bonus chapters focusing on side characters. The Explorers games have become somewhat notorious for the sheer amount of frightening situations that managed to sneak past the radar.
- Adventure Squad: A third installment released only in Japan for WiiWare in 2009, comprising three versions with elementally-themed starter Pokémon (Fire, Water, and Electric), with entirely 3D graphics, and a Lighter and Softer story involving Arceus. These games do not have a page here at the moment, which is why the external link is given.
- Gates to Infinity: The fourth installment in the series, released on the Nintendo 3DS, with fully 3D graphics. Unlike previous installments, this game is a standalone title. It makes use of items called Magnagates, which are generated based on Augmented Reality minigames. It was released in Japan on November 23rd, 2012, while North America had their release on March 24, 2013, Europe on May 17, 2013, and Australia a day later on May 18.
The first two installments also received their own manga adaptations and a few anime episodes based on them (see The Anime of the Game
); the fourth also received an anime-style two-episode short episode.
The series as a whole provides examples of:
- Adventure Guild: Rescue teams, Explorer teams (explicitly so with Wigglytuff's Guild), and adventurer teams.
- Ambidextrous Sprite: Averted; Pokémon with asymmetrical designs have different sprites for all eight directions.
- And Your Reward Is Clothes: More or less the benefit of evolving at Luminous Springs in Explorers of Time and Darkness. Aside from a stat boost or two, you don't get to evolve until absolutely everything is over. You might as well not bother, unless you want to tackle the more challenging dungeons.
- The Anime of the Game: In the form of a few one-off specials - Go-Getters out of the Gate!, Explorers of Time and Darkness, and Explorers of Sky: Beyond Time and Darkness.
- Also, Ginji's Rescue Team and Blazing Exploration Team, two six-chapter mangas by Makoto Mizobuchi based on the first two games. The latter has not been translated.
- Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Four, but some parts of the story will only permit the player and partner. Also, larger Pokémon (such as Onix or Articuno) will reduce your headcount to three due to a size limit.
- Artificial Stupidity
- If you run out of PP for a move, the game prevents you from selecting or using it; but if an AI Pokémon (partner, recruits, and opponents alike) run out of PP, they may continue attempting to use that move, wasting their turn. The "PP Checker" skill prevents this, but the Rescue Team games don't equip it by default (it must be learned).
- Disabling the "Course Checker" IQ skill can result in death by friendly fire if you're not careful. (But unlike "PP Checker", this one is equipped by default.)
- If for some reason your partner is separated from you, they'll happily wander off elsewhere in the dungeon, engaging other Pokémon in combat, level discrepancies or Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors being considered irrelevant. You can tell them to "wait there" while you track them down, but you have no way of telling them "wrong way, turn around".
- Curiously, the above point also applies to enemies. If you encounter a pair of enemies together in a tunnel and it takes a few turns to dispatch the first, the second one may just turn around and head back the other way instead of waiting in line to fight you.
- The Atoner: Gengar in Red/Blue, Drowzee, Armaldo, and, eventually, Dusknoir in Time/Darkness/Sky.
- Auto-Revive: Reviver Seeds. It is not necessary to even equip them; if they're present in the team inventory, they will be used automatically on the first Pokémon to be knocked out. As always, beware the lookalike item.
- Bag of Sharing: All team members have access to the same inventory regardless of their location on the floor; in Sky, items and money placed in storage can even be exchanged to and from the optional "special episodes".
- Baleful Polymorph: The Ninetales legend in Red/Blue predicted the cursed human would be reborn as a Pokémon. The "cursed human" is actually Gengar; the player being a Pokémon is simply because they're The Chosen One.
- Played with in that this is part of the characters' backstory, and not an in-game status effect.
- In-game, the "Transfer Orb" transforms an enemy Pokémon into a different species, though there is no guarantee that the new species will be any easier (or harder) to defeat. And the "Decoy Orb" transforms an opponent into a Poké-doll that other enemy Pokémon attack.
- Finally, note that Adventure Squad doesn't use the same backstory as the other games. The orbs are still there, though.
- Ballistic Discount: Attacking or stealing from the Keckleon brothers' in-dungeon shops will not only cause the incredibly powerful shopkeeper to attack you, but an infinitely spawning army of them to chase you until you leave the floor.
- Battle Theme Music: There is one for standard Boss Battles, a second for Climax Bosses (and other legendary Pokémon), a third for Monster Houses. Explorers adds another for encountering Outlaw Pokémon, plus themes for the main antagonists.
- Big Damn Heroes: In Gates to Infinity, when the Pawniard brothers summon two Galvantula and two Venipede to fight you, your partner, Dunsparce and Emolga, a surprise visit from Virizion, Gurdurr and the Timburr brothers initiates to gang up on them.
- Also, at Daybreak Ridge after defeating Toxicroak, Gigalith and Chandelure, just as two Excadrill and Salamence are about to gang up on you, Hydreigon swoops in to save your character.
- Blessed with Suck: Pokémon with the Illuminate ability (like Staryu, Chinchou, or Volbeat) will "blink" if they take damage during a turn, causing a hostile Pokémon to spawn somewhere on the floor. This includes damage from hostile weather or Standard Status Effects.
- Bloodless Carnage: And how!
- Brutal Bonus Level: A surprisingly high number of them for the games' length.
- But Thou Must: In textbook fashion, most prompts for player input will result in only slightly altered dialogue leading to the same outcome, or require the player to go back and select the "correct" choice again.
- In Red/Blue, there is are at least two points (When the player is accused of being the human from the Ninetales cure and at Mt. Freeze) where the player's only options are (literally) Visible Silence.
- Near the end of Explorers of Sky, while trying to explain that something feels wrong about the mysterious dreams, you're given a choice between "Something seems strange..." and "Something seems weird..."
- Taken to an extreme in Bidoof's Wish where Jirachi offers Bidoof a wish, and the player is given a slew of possible options (even World Domination), all leading to the same result — Bidoof doesn't want to wish for it any more, and wishes for something else.
- Chimecho provides a Lampshade Hanging in Sky: "Even if you select a "No," you eventually have to select the "Yes," so it always ends up the same anyway..."
- Late in the Explorers games, during a major plot point a selection dialog pops up ... and there's ONLY ONE OPTION to pick from!
- It's also played straight in Gates to Infinity, though there is a point where you can get a Non-Standard Game Over for picking a certain response.
- Character Portrait: In all of the games (Except for the Wii titles), with a surprising amount of different expressions. At least for the player, partner, and plot-important characters, anyway. 
- Cloudcuckoolander: The Wigglytuff in both games. They're separate Wigglytuff, for those of you who are wondering.
- Climbing Climax: Three games end with a tower climb; the first one is the Sky Tower, the second is Temporal Tower, and last, Gates to Infinity ends with Glacier Palace - Great Spire.
- Continuing Is Painful: Defeat means losing approximately half the items (randomly selected) in your active inventory and all of your money on hand. When the game tells you to use the bank and item storage before setting out, it isn't kidding.
- In Sky, the penalty was lessened to half of your money on hand, although losing half of your items still applies.
- Contractual Boss Immunity: Orb items explicitly cannot be used in boss battles due to "a strange power", though Seeds and Standard Status Effects still generally can.
- While Gates to Infinity allows you to use Orbs on boss battles, it's still played straight in that the legendary Pokemon bosses are immune to status effects. Also, standard bosses recover from ailments far quicker then normal, and group bosses frequently possess an IQ skill that prevents more then one of them having a given status effect at the same time on top of this.
- Convection Schmonvection: Partly subverted, as a non-Fire Pokčmon who somehow (flying, levitating, leaping) ends up on a lava tile will be burned.
- Crapsaccharine World: Sure the world looks pretty and colorful but what about the natural disasters/distortions time that are turning mons against each other or what about the embodiment of nightmares who puts children into everlasting nightmares for his own amusement and is attempting to turn the world into a world of darkness?
- Ironically, even though "Darkness/Time/Sky" seems fairly kiddish at face value, it is often viewed as the grittiest and darkest Pokemon game ever made.
- Same with "Gates to Infinity", except EVEN DARKER.
- Critical Existence Failure: The end of both Red/Blue and Explorers.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Boss battles can range from very easy to very difficult depending on the player's strategy and (for some cases) the boss's own A.I. Roulette; for example, combining a Standard Status Effect such as Confusion with Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors For Massive Damage can result in defeating the boss without giving it a chance to even fight back.
- Cursed with Awesome: Your character is a human turned into a Pokémon. Why become a human when you can do things like shooting fire from your HANDS?
- Somewhat averted in the first game though. The Laser-Guided Amnesia was the real curse, not the transformation. The player agreed to both but shows no problems with being a Pokémon. The player can choose whether or not he/she wants to become a human again. Of course, your choice is irrelevant at the end of the game. The player character wisely decides that The Power of Friendship and various other awesome powers is more valuable than life on the boring human world which he/she has no memory of anyway.
- Played straight in the next game where Darkrai's attempt to kill Grovyle led to the PC getting turned into a Pokémon. On the other hand, the player is never particularly bothered by whether or not he/she can ever become human again.
- In Gates To Infinity Your character ends up being able to travel between both worlds at will
- Dark Is Evil/Dark Is Not Evil/Light Is Not Good:
- Explorers or Time and Darkness implies early on that Grovyle is a villain trying to stop time, and the dark Dusknoir is trying to prevent Grovyle from doing so, in a textbook case of Dark Is Not Evil. It is eventually revealed that while both of them are doing what they claim to be doing, Grovyle is trying to stop time in order to save the world, while Dusknoir is in fact the second-in-command to the main villain, subverting it back to Dark IS Evil.
- Gates of Infinity involves a big scary Hydreigon who is shown chasing an innocent-looking Munna. Opposite to the above example, this turns into a case of Dark Is NOT Evil when we discover Hydreigon is the friendly and polite Big Good, while Munna is the Manipulative Bastard servant of the Big Bad.
- Defeat Means Friendship: How you recruit new team members most of the time.
- Diagonal Speed Boost
- Did You Just Knock Out A Legendary Pokémon? (Especially Dialga, the master of time itself.)
- Difficulty Spike: Explorers is pretty easy up until you make your way to the Hidden Land and Temporal Tower. Afterwards, it can get downright cruel.
- Before that, we have Quicksand Pit, which can be cruel with constant sandstorms caused by Hippopotas and Tyranitar. If you're playing as a Normal-type Pokémon, Dark Hill will be living hell.
- Sky Tower in Red/Blue Rescue Team can be pretty rough going, too. Stupid ghost-types and their dumb attacking through walls on earlier floors, Idiotic Aerodactyl and their moronic Supersonics and Agilities further up... and let's not get into the post-game dungeons.
- In the explorers games, escort missions are hard enough since the escort is usually massively weak. So imagine when you have to escort one of them through a 30+ lvl dungeon, with Pokemon that can use Discharge or Silver Wind all the way from the other end of the screen per turn, as well as the escort may use the ability runaway, or step on a hidden warp tile teleporting alone to the other end of the dungeon, unprotected. At that point you are beyond screwed.
- In Gates to Infinity the spike starts with Glacier Palace's Eastern Spire, and it keeps on spiking upwards until you reach Kyurem.
- Disappears into Light: the player after completing the main arc in all three (Rescue Team, Explorers, and Gates to Infinity) games, albeit for slightly different reasons.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Don't try to steal from Kecleon in Red/Blue Rescue Team unless you're very sure you can get away with it. Because when he knocks you out, every item in your bag is replaced with Plain seeds.
- Easily Angered Shopkeeper: Kecleon. See Shoplift and Die below.
- Easter Egg: In games past Red/Blue Rescue Team, try running around your partner a lot. They get dizzy and fall over.
- Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: More or less similar to the main series during gameplay. It is specifically hinted at during Sunflora's special mission in Sky, where she is warned that Spring Cave is likely to contain Fire-type Pokémon note , and her type disadvantage against the outlaw Haunter (plural).
- Escort Mission: A frequent form other missions can take, not helped in any way by the client's lower level or the inability to give them tactical commands in case they get separated.
- Evil Is Deathly Cold: Kyurem in Gates to Infinity.
- Face-Heel Turn: Dusknoir in Explorers and Munna in Gates to Infinity.
- Fake Difficulty: In the first game, after a certain point the enemies in the dungeons just won't be able to damage your characters enough (since you can raise your stats with gummies very fast), so the game fills the dungeons with traps and present enemies that instead of going for direct damage, will try to use OHKO moves or poison you so you'll have to rush to the stairs.
- The second one just runs wild with it. In the ultimate challenges, you're reduced to Lv. 1, have all your IQ skills removed, cannot bring items, and the dungeons are 99 floors long with the highest trap density, and the latter floors are covered with enemies that can kill you indirectly with ease. Add this to the fact that there are only a handful of Pokémon that are effectively useable while at Lv. 1, and you'll realize that not only you won't be able to use your favorites in those challenges as those are effectively luck based missions.
- Fantasy World Map: Displayed primarily in conjunction with the dungeon-select menu.
- Fire-Breathing Diner: Blast Seeds, if eaten. They can alternatively be thrown, causing them to explode on impact.
- Fish out of Temporal Water: The player. Well, not temporal water, except in Explorers. Averted in the WiiWare games.
- Fixed Damage Attack: Quite a few attacks, even more than those of the main series (Dragon Rage, Night Shade, etc.).
- Geo Pebbles and Gravelerocks inflict a fixed 10 or 20 points damage, while throwing or knocking enemy Pokémon around inflicts a fixed 4 points.
- Selfdestruct and Explosion inflict a fixed 40 or 80 points on hostile Pokémon.
- Friendly Fireproof: Many (but not all) moves that target an entire room will conveniently damage only opposing Pokémon. On the other hand, moves that inflict damage on a "straight line of sight" will damage the first thing they hit, friend or foe alike.
- Funny Animal: Mirroring any examples from the main Pokémon series.
- Fun with Acronyms: Gates to Infinity gives us the Helping Adventurous Pokemon Prosper Institute - or "HAPPI" for short.
- Team ACT stands for Alakazam, Charizard, and Tyranitar. (The Japanese Version is Team FLB)
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: At one point in Gates, the abovementioned HAPPI's rules force one member of your team to stay behind while the rest journey. This is treated like it has to be one of the core team, ignoring the potentially dozens of random noncharacterized Pokemon you've recruited from dungeons.
- Get Back Here Boss: Certain outlaws will freak out when they see your exploration team. One slightly notable example is Abra, whose response is to use the one move he knows, Teleport, making you have to search for him first. Thankfully, he won't Teleport again when you do find him.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: The X-Eye seed's effects are described as making one cross-eyed. It's actually a hallucinogen.
- Glass Cannon: The Com Mons tend to be like this.
- Greed: Some of the characters seem quite obsessed with treasure.
- Grievous Harm with a Body: Hurl Orbs, Strength, and Fling pick up one hostile Pokémon and toss it towards another, inflicting damage on both.
- Guide Dang It: 99% of the items are found randomly in the dungeons, so it's kinda hard to figure out where you can get what as the item might just not spawn whatsoever. For instance, a certain evolutionary item is found only in a certain dungeon, and ONLY in a Kecleon Shop, which might or might not appear in the dungeon. And even then, the Kecleon Shop may not have the item.
- The games' introductory quiz assigns the player a specific starter based on whichever personality type it declares as a result. If you want your player to be a specific Pokémon, the fastest way is to consult a guide for how each question affects your quiz results, and pick answers accordingly. (On the other hand, you can pick your partner's species directly.)
- The sheer number of possible personality types and questions means that even answering optimally, it may be impossible to get the Pokémon you want if you get the wrong quiz loadout!
- Hate Plague: According to the characters, it is the natural disasters/distortions in time that are turning mons hostile.
- The Bittercold in Gates of Infinity is more of a plague caused by hate (well, despair, actually, but it doesn't seem to make much of a difference). But it also causes despair...
- Heal Thyself: Oran Berries, available from the start of the game, heal the user by 100 HP, despite healing by only 10 HP in the main series. Oren Berries, on the other hand, cause you to lose 10 HP.
- Heel-Face Turn: Gengar in Red/Blue, Dusknoir in Sky, and Munna in Gates to Infinity.
- Also, the Sableye stick with Dusknoir no matter his allegiance.
- Hero Antagonist: Team ACT in Red/Blue.
- In Time/Darkness/Sky, Palkia just wants to stop spacial distortions from warping the world. Too bad Darkrai manipulated him into thinking you were the cause of it.
- Hello, Insert Name Here: The player and partner, and to a lesser extent the "nicknames" of recruited Pokémon.
- Hello, Nurse!: In Gates To Infinity, this happens when the player sees Virizion for the first time. Yes, she's a frickin' Legendary. But the majority of males in Post Town seem to all have a crush on her, even though she's legendary. 'She's out of your league' INDEED.
- Even though every male in Post Town have a crush on Virizion, they all have been rejected. However, Virizion joins the player and partner's team after defeating the two Paniward and their goons.
- Heroic Mime: Played with. The player can read the protagonist's thoughts, but when he or she actually speaks to the other characters, all that occurs is a Hyperactive Sprite and Parrot Exposition from the other Pokémon.
- Explorers averts it precisely once after completing the main story arc: The player actually gets to say goodbye to his partner right before the changes in history erase him from the timestream.
- In Red/Blue, it's averted several times, actually: the hero speaks during the dream sequences, at the end of the main story as well, and after a level-up. (Though the dream sequences may be a borderline example.)
- However, in the aftergame, if you are in a dungeon and playing as another character (such as your partner or a recruited Pokémon) and you speak to your player character, the only response is "...".
- Gates to Infinity averts this a lot of times, as the player does get a few lines of (non-soliloquy) dialogue, though it's mostly just short "what was that?" types of responses whenever an NPC introduces a new term. Even so, Hyperactive Sprite and Parrot Exposition still apply.
- Heroic Sacrifice/Taking the Bullet
- The Ninetales legend in the Rescue Team games, where a Gardevoir took the Ninetales's curse herself to save her human trainer.
- Explorers of Time/Darkness has no less than three, with one of the Special Episodes in Sky adding a fourth.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Officially, the player and partner are merely friends who work together on the same team. This doesn't stop the Shipping fandom from numerous pairings of Ho Yay, Les Yay, (etc.) between them, but that aside....
- Hit Points: But at least (in most conditions) they regenerate automatically.
- Hub Level: Pokémon Square, Treasure Town, and Post Town. Each is frequently the only non-dungeon location in their respective game.
- Idle Animation: A variety of Pokémon. Poochyena's animation, for example, depicts the Pokémon barking, and Alakazam's is to levitate in place.
- Inner Monologue: All of the player's lines are either this or Parrot Exposition from other characters, save for a few scenes where they actually talk directly — which is usually reserved for dreams and other places where no other Pokémon are around.
- Averted a lot of times in Gates to Infinity, as the player character talks directly much more compared to previous games.
- It's All Upstairs from Here: Most of the outdoor dungeons, and the towers.
- Knockback: Blowback Orbs (and the moves Roar and Whirlwind) specifically send a foe flying across the room, causing them to take damage if they hit a wall or opposing Pokémon.
- Lampshade Hanging: Happens with some frequency. To give one example:
Armaldo: [The boss of a dungeon] probably won't listen to what you have to say. You'll likely be attacked often.
Igglybuff: Dungeon bosses don't have much patience, do they?
- Large Ham: Dugtrio, Palkia, and Spiritomb probably all count.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia
- The main character in both Rescue Team and Explorers wakes up knowing absolutely nothing beyond their name, and the fact that they used to be a human. In the former, this is revealed to be because the player specifically requested it, to prove to themselves whether they really were The Chosen One.
- Also in Red/Blue, the final postgame mission involves rescuing Gardevoir, who requests Laser-Guided Amnesia so she won't have to remember her human trainer.
- Likewise, Uxie in Time/Darkness/Sky has power over memories, so the player assumes Uxie might have something to do with their forgotten memories. Nope, but it was worth a shot asking.
- Unknown whether this is the case in Gates to Infinity - the player doesn't seem to have amnesia about who they are, they just don't think about their human past at all.
- Last Chance Hit Point: As with the main series, the "Endure" technique allows the holder to retain 1 HP if an attack would otherwise KO them. (Curiously, in Rescue Team and Explorers it lasts for several turns, making the user almost invincible until it wears off). In Gates to Infinity, the "Sturdy" skill (a standard feature of some species) allows the user to retain 1 HP after attack if their Life Meter was full before taking a hit, and it's available as a "team skill". There is also the "Tough" team skill which provides a random chance of this at all times.
- Level Drain: Doom Seeds cause you to lose one level.
- The Load: Almost any Pokémon in an escort mission. They're typically underleveled (escorts in Rescue Team especially are always Level 1, even if they want to explore a high-level dungeon), with bad stats and moves, suicidally aggressive AI, and won't hesitate to waste every single one of your Reviver Seeds (remember, they kick in automatically) if given the chance. It's probably the number one reason many players AVOID escort missions entirely. Thank God they're no longer present in Gates to Infinity.
- Explorers is the biggest offender, requiring you to face the Dark-type True Final Boss with an underleveled Psychic-type in tow.
- Luck-Based Mission: The Lv.1/0 IQ/No items dungeons, especially in Time/Darkness/Sky. The game might not spawn enough HP/PP recovery items, you might start in a trap-filled room (or worse, a Monster House), some enemies in the late floors are nigh unkillable... really, skill is required, but if the luck isn't on your side, you WON'T complete those dungeons. On the flip side, not being allowed to take items into a dungeon means you have (literally) nothing to lose for attempting to crawl them.
- Made of Iron: Aside from the Bloodless Carnage, every single character seems capable of Taking the Bullet with little more than short-term unconsciousness as a result.
- Marathon Level: The 50- and 99- floor dungeons.
- Mood Whiplash: Especially in Explorers.
- Mushroom Samba: X-Eye Seeds.
- Never Say "Die": Pokémon don't "kill" other Pokémon, they "get rid of" them. (Sometimes "for good"....)
- Also in situations where one would bring up death, they avoid actually mentioning it. Usually with lots of ellipsis and question marks. For example "Is he....?"
- No Hero Discount: Even after saving the world twice, Kecleon still doesn't give discounts.
- Nothing Is Scarier: If you spend too much time on one floor, an "Unseen Force" will slowly start getting closer and then blow you out of the dungeon on the very last turn. The intentions and identity of the "Unseen Force" are never explained which leaves everything about it to the player's imagination.
- One Curse Limit: A variation in Gates to Infinity: The "Prevention" Team Skill means that if one Pokémon on your team gets a status ailment, nobody else on the same team can get afflicted by it at the same time.
- One Game for the Price of Two: Just like the main series, there are only subtle differences in item and Pokémon appearance rates. (Additionally, the Rescue Team games are on differing systems, which means there are a few touchscreen features in Blue that aren't in Red, and Pokémon can be traded between them with just one system.)
- Interestingly, Sky actually includes all the Pokémon from both Time/Darkness, along with all its other bonus features, averting the main series' trend of the third version strategically omitting enough Pokémon to 'force' trading with past versions.
- Adventure Squads makes it One Game For the Price of Three, with each game having 133 Pokémon exclusive to it (or in Stormy's case, 135), and a completely different set of dungeons.
- Averted with Gates to Infinity, which has no counterpart. Though there is a surprisingly small amount of recruitable Pokémon (as it's mostly just Unova Pokémon).
- One Steve Limit: Thanks to the Species Surname, rarely does the player encounter more than one NPC of a given species. Lampshaded in Explorers after Teddiursa evolves and finds others are having trouble telling them apart from their already evolved buddy.
- There are two Timburr in Gates to Infinity, though... and both are addressed the same way.
- One Mon Army: A single character is able to plow through dozens of enemies, especially if they are a lower level than him/her.
- By the time you reach level 80, the enemies are practically unable to so much as touch you.
- Playable Epilogue: Just like the main series, the game isn't over after the credits roll; there are still more missions and new dungeons (even some more story progression) waiting for the player to wrap up. And, of course, the quest to recruit 'em all truly begins at that point.
- Player Personality Quiz: Appears in the first two games. Gender is also a factor; for instance, in the Explorers series, a Brave male becomes Pikachu while a Brave female ends up as Charmander, and certain ones are only available to one gender.
- Adventure Squads averts this by letting the player pick their hero and partner from the starting roster for each squad, with preset genders for each character. Gates averts this, letting you outright pick your player and partner characters (and their gender in the Japanese versions.)
- Plot Hole: It is never explained how the Mons know what a "human" is when there aren't any humans around. (Though the Ruins friend zone in the Rescue Team games seems to hint at a case of Humanity's Wake.)
- In Gates, the partner claims that humans show up in Fairy Tales. Still does little to clear this up.
- Purely Aesthetic Gender: The player's species and/or gender has no meaningful impact in the events of the Story Arc whatsoever. In actual gameplay, it has no effect beyond whether gender-based moves and abilities (Attract, Rivalry, etc.) will work on a given Mon, as only a few species (like the Nidoran) have any notable differences between their males and females.
- Quest for Identity: The player in both games.
- Rage Quit: Yes. Yes you will. Especially when you are playing the Mt. Bristle and *shudder* Apple Woods dungeons for the first time in Explorers. By the way, ragequitting counts as a loss, so you'll lose your items anyway.
- Random Encounters: While the dungeons generally rely on wandering opponents inside dungeons, later dungeons occasionally toss in "monster houses" where a swarm of Pokémon drop in on the player for a surprise attack. Oh, Crap indeed.
- Randomly Generated Levels: As one would expect from a Roguelike. Gates to Infinity takes it up a notch with "Magnagates" - focus the 3DS's outer camera on a round object and the game will generate an entire dungeon from it.
- Rank Inflation: Most missions (and outlaw Pokémon) are ranked from E to A (and S) for difficulty, but the scale extends even farther with missions rated *1 through *9.
- Rare Candy: Joy Seeds. There are also the same vitamins as the main series, and Sitrus Berries can increase a Mon's maximum HP if taken at full health. Ultra-rare Golden Seeds boost you up five levels!
- Regenerating Health: Team members gradually regenerate HP as you move around the dungeons. Holding A+B at the same time causes your HP to regenerate faster, if only by standing in place and fast-forwarding time. Poisoning (and certain weather conditions) inhibit this, though, and certain IQ skills can increase the rate.
- Required Party Member: The player and partner, at least until after completing the main arc and watching the credits roll. Afterwards...
- In Red/Blue, the partner discusses letting their recruits take on rescue missions by themselves, effectively lifting the restriction and allowing the player to compose their team any way they see fit.
- In Explorers, this is Chimecho's bonus for passing the Guild's graduation exam, although the player and partner are still the characters used to travel around the Hub Level and for most of the post-game story missions.
- In Gates to Infinity, the game gives you "Companion Mode", allowing you to play as whoever isn't in the team, completing missions and such. However, you can't go out of the main area of Paradise, and the story doesn't progress in this mode. Only after completing the game does the game allow you to change the leader of the team.
- Roguelike: To cater to the younger demographic, though, it's actually a fair bit easier than most Roguelikes. At least, until the end credits roll, then the kid-gloves come off.
- Save Point: "Kangaskhan Rocks" found during some of the longer expeditions. Some even allow access to the player's item storage, and they also double as a checkpoint if the player is defeated.
- The ones found outside dungeons are usually the ones with item storage access; the ones used as dungeon checkpoints don't.
- In Gates To Infinity, Kangaskhan Storages and their mini versions Kangaskhan Rocks were all replaced by "Deposit Boxes", which also allow money to be deposited.
- Scratch Damage: Most commonly seen when revisiting low-level dungeons on optional missions.
- Sequel Difficulty Spike: In a variety of ways, but notably with regard to Monster Houses: The first Monster Houses in the Rescue Team games would be seen in late-game dungeons like Uproar Forest or the Magma Cavern, but in the Explorers games they can occur as early as Amp Plains halfway through the Story Arc.
- Explorers of Sky spikes even earlier than ''Time/Darkness' thanks to the special episodes and the change of bosses at Amp Plains.
- Shoplift and Die: In addition to the town shop, Kecleon also runs a Dungeon Shop. And woe unto you if you attempt to take items off his Dungeon Shop mat without paying for them first.
- Note that anything with the potential to destroy items (such as an Explosion trap) can also offend him if it damages his wares. Otherwise, you can KO wild Pokémon right in front of him and he won't even notice.
- The in-game description of the Trawl Orb explicitly warns that if there's a Kecleon shop on the current floor, using the Orb will brand the player a thief (as it pulls all items to the player's location).
- As of Gates to Infinity, you can no longer defeat angered Kecleon. In other words, you will die if you try to steal something from them. (On the other hand, they don't endlessly spawn anymore.)
- Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus Seriousness: The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series has gone up and down like a yoyo. The Rescue Team mixed both to a great effect, Explorers is more serious and dark, Adventure Squad played a big silly fun, and Gates to Infinity is set back on the extreme end of seriousness, but more lighthearted at the same time.
- Species Surname: Most NPCs are named after their respective Pokémon species (only the player and partner, plus recruited Mons, are assigned actual names).
- Standard Status Effects: In addition to the ones from the main series (poison, burn, paralysis, sleep, freeze, confusion, etc.), there is also "fear" (Pokémon flees battle), "petrify" (full paralysis until struck by an enemy attack), "slow", "cringe" (lose one turn), and so on.
- Suspend Save: Inside dungeons.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: Rumored about Kecleon, one of the merchants: "He wouldn't get free items in dungeons and sell them at a higher price..."
- Suspicious Videogame Generosity: If you see more than one or two items in the same room from a distance, it's likely to be either a Kecleon Shop (good) or a Monster House (bad or very bad). Luckily for you, Gates gives Kecleon Shops a different floor color so you can identify them.
- Talking Animal: Invoked by the player at the start of the game when they realize the first voice talking to them belongs to a Pokémon instead of a human. See Translation Convention for the rest.
- Take Your Time: Indeed, although if the player is defeated in a boss battle, both the partner and boss will acknowledge that the player is back "again" for a rematch.
- In Explorers of Darkness/Time/Sky, you must save the Temporal Tower from collapsing, causing time to freeze. But when you attempt to climb the tower, you might end up find yourself underleveled. Thankfully, you can just go back to Treasure Town and complete several jobs to level up your Party and the condition of the Tower will not have changed at all.
- Tech Points: Eating Gummis increases the user's "IQ", allowing them to learn and equip new (mostly passive) skills, such as healing quicker from status problems or walking on water/lava.
- Trapped in Another World: And in another body, too!
- Treasure Room: The last room in a dungeon is usually this. There are even some hidden stairs that lead to a room full of riches.
- Explorers of Darkness/Time/Sky introduces escort jobs where you must help the client find a room that is covered in gold but only contains two chests.
- Dragon Hoard: Gates of Infinity introduces Detours that contain very rare Deluxe Boxes but are blocked by a door or some kind of fog. If you manage to open the door/remove the fog, you will find yourself beset by Braviarys or some other fully evolved Pokemon that will just wreck your party if you enter into the detour at an insufficient level.
- Unidentified Items: Wild Pokémon in dungeons may drop Treasure Boxes when defeated; these boxes come in various colors but the only way to know (and use) what's inside them is to take them to a specialized Pokémon back in town after leaving the dungeon. Until then, they do occupy space in your inventory, but if the dungeon includes a floor with a Save Point, you can transfer them to your item storage so you don't have to keep lugging them around.
- Universal Poison: As in the main series. It blocks the usual HP regeneration while inflicting damage. It wears off when you find the stairs to the next floor, but whether your Pokémon will survive long enough to get there is another matter.
- Useless Useful Spell: Like the main series, most Standard Status Effects are equally effective against enemy Mons (and even bosses) as they are against you. Unlike the main series, there are numerous other skills that qualify....
- "False Swipe"'s ability to deal damage while never KO'ing the target was useful in the main series where Mons had to be captured alive. Not so much here, where you must KO a Pokémon to have a chance of recruiting it to your party.
- Gates to Infinity fixed this by changing the effect to increasing recruit rate if you KO a Mon with this move.
- Item-grabbing moves such as "Thief" or "Covet" are rarely worthwhile since enemy Pokémon can only carry one item at a time, and they just drop it when KO'ed anyway. On the other hand, you have a large inventory that enemy Mons can steal from ... but at least they still drop the stolen item when defeated. Except for the moves "Pluck" and "Bug Bite", which not only steal a food item (like Oran Berries and Reviver Seeds) from your inventory, but use it up at the same time.
- "Sleep" is a generally effective status effect early on, but becomes less so in the late game due to moves (like Uproar) or IQ skills ("Nonsleeper") that prevent it.
- "Transform" doesn't copy the opponent's moveset, so the user (e.g. Ditto) must resort to using Struggle, which has a low attack power and generates recoil damage.
- "Worry Seed" gives the target "Sleepless" status. In the main series, this suppresses the target's normal Ability, but here, it is just an added (not to mention positive) status effect — in other words, you should be using it on your team members, not enemy Mons. Ironically, this doesn't stop the AI from attempting to "attack" you with it.
- Inverted with "Selfdestruct" and "Explosion", which inflict fixed damage on hostile Pokémon and 50 percent damage on the player's team, regardless of whether it is used by the player or a hostile Pokémon. Meaning that a hostile Pokémon will suffer a KO after one or two uses, while the player can use it almost indefinitely (thanks to Regenerating Health and Reviver Seeds).
- Vendor Trash: Gold Ribbons and Lost Loot exist to be sold for massive money (and if you do this in a Dungeon Shop, you can steal it back again for free, save for the Easily Angered Shopkeeper).
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can knock out Kecleon and then steal his goods with impunity when you're Level 80 and above. But only in Explorers of Darkness/Time/Sky.
- Video Game Time: Venturing through a Dungeon is one day. But the plot doesn't progress until you take a mission that is relevant to the story.
- Viewers Are Goldfish: Prepare for a lot of flashbacks whenever the player character recalls a previous event, even if the flashback was just from the previous cutscene. It seems to happen more often in Explorers than Rescue Team.
- Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Averted in the first game, due to it not having a specific Big Bad, but played straight in the second.
- Violence Is the Only Option: Expect to hear something like "he's not listening to reason" any time you reach the final floor of the latest dungeon.
- Wallet of Holding: Your inventory space may be limited, but your money stash (not counting the bank) sure is not. Note that as of Gates to Infinity your wallet is limited to 9,999 Pokés, making the Deposit Box a necessity.
- We Buy Anything: But the prices you get for resale are extremely low - like 10%(!) of its retail purchase price.
- We Cannot Go On Without You: If either the player or their partner Mon are knocked out in a dungeon, the mission is immediately over. (After the credits roll, this is reduced to whomever the player designates as the party leader.)
- Walk on Water: All Water-type Pokémon can cross bodies of water during dungeon crawls. Other species have (or can learn) this ability as well (and a similar rule applies to Fire-type Pokémon crossing lava).
- And then it takes it to its logical extreme, with the IQ ability Absolute Mover, it not only allows any typed Pokémon to cross any terrain type normally not crossable unless you're a flying, fire, or water type, but it also allows you to move through the walls.
- Any Flying-Type or any Pokémon with the ability Levitate can cross lava and water as well.
- Although if you cross lava without being protected from burns in some manner...
- Wham Line: Many of them, mostly in Explorers.
- What Measure Is a Non-Cute?
- Wizard Needs Food Badly: The Belly meter. This was completely removed in Gates (save for three post-game dungeons which are clearly labeled as such.) The familiar Apples saw a return there.
- World of Funny Animals: Unlike in other Pokémon games, this game series takes place in a world populated entirely by Pokémon and no humans, though the main character was originally a human him/herself.
- Would Hurt a Child: Like the main series, there is no gameplay distinction between "baby" Pokémon (like Caterpie or Azurill) and adults when it comes to fighting. You're free to knock 'em all out.
- You All Look Familiar: Somewhat lessened by a One Species Limit, but still shows up occasionally.
Adventure Squads also contains examples of:
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Blazing Squad is comprised of primarily red/orange/yellow/brown pokemon, Stormy Squad is all blue, and Light Squad is all yellow save for the light blue Shinx and Pachirisu.
- Fire, Water, Lightning: Blazing Squad, Stormy Squad and Light Squad are comprised primarily of that respective type.
- Lighter and Softer: In Time/Darkness/Sky, the main plot is to find the time gears before the Bad Future arrives and the world is put into hell. In Adventure Squad, the main plot is finding some cookies in a dungeon so your town will stop fighting over a piece of chocolate.
- Palette Swap: 36 pokemon have Shiny counterparts that can be discovered and recruited. Notably, they have one advantage over their normally colored cousins: their Hunger Meter goes up to 200 instead of the typical 100.
- Rule of Three: In addition to there being three versions, each team has three pokemon in the starting roster who aren't the dominant type: