Reviews: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon
Role-Playing with some Game in-between.
The Mystery Dungeon spin-offs (At least the first two, as I've not played Gates to Infinity) essentially invert the Play the Game, Skip the Story problem the main Pokemon games have - the story is rather deep, one can easily get attached to the player character, and it's surprisingly dark, but whenever you are not advancing with the story (Or if you already completed it) the game feels a little... dull. My guess is that it has a slow pace when inside a dungeon:
- Animations cannot be disabled. It's most noticeable when long-range or room-wide attacks (Gravelerocks fly so slowly sometimes I wonder how can they have such long range) because the wait between each of your turns can become really long. And Arceus help you if that long-range move is a 5-hit Bullet Seed, which somehow falls under One Bullet at a Time.
- Floor complexity (I'm looking at you, 3-2-3-2 small rooms setup). It does not really add anything to difficulty - outside of dungeons that don't let you carry items. And even then, you may already have an Apple or Elixir in your Bag or Toolbox. Most of the time, in my opinion, that drops difficulty due to more choke points.
- The amount of floors. This was somewhat solved in Explorers's Story with checkpoints after 10 floors (But they don't exist in story-less dungeons). While it's natural in a Roguelike to have a lot of floors, they don't generally get more difficult the further you go in this series. Super Mystery Dungeon is said to save in a dungeon anytime, so I guess they learned.
- Leveling up. As bad as in Diablo II, I reckon. The bonus dungeons have wild pokemon at such level you could take a lot of time farming before you can even consider taking on them. The first time or two in a dungeon you can gain a few levels, but good luck afterwards. This is more of a problem in Explorers, though, as Rescue Team is more generous.
Gates to Infinity
Despite what people have been saying about this game in particular, I found it to be quite enjoyable. The gameplay I find is slightly more difficult to get used to, but it's nothing serious. My only problem is when your teammates veer off every so often... Ugh. Next, the story. With it being based around friendship, you'd think these games would be much Lighter And Softer than the previous ones. Surprisingly enough, I found the story to be very emotional, maybe even more than the Explorers games (and if you've played those ones, that's definitely saying something), and quite dark at times. The characters are lovable, and you can get attached to them very easily. But, like in Red/Blue Rescue Team, the partner doesn't get as much character development as the one in Explorers. The story is nice, and as I said before, my only issue was with the gameplay. Of course we all know that the games aren't exactly about the gameplay as they are about the story. The graphics are absolutely beautiful, with a wonderful soundtrack to match. Overall, a pretty good game, 7/10. I recommend buying it, even if folks like IGN gave it awful reviews.
Rather nice, actually.
When I was little, I didn't really realize what roguelikes were - but I had played Nethack before, so I had some background in it. As I played the game, it took me a bit to realize, but then I realized - yeah, it was the same genre as Nethack. Nowadays, I love many roguelikes, and I am thinking of revisiting this one. In the first few easy levels, it doesn't feel as much like a roguelike because it's easy, and you don't have to start over again. But then, later on, you get the roguelike feel from the 50+ level bonus dungeons. Combine this with a town (as in Larn and Angband, but you go back there after each dungeon, and it's where story events happen) and you get small roguelike levels eventually going up into big ones, but since you keep your character's stats and all, the gameplay still feels connected. The story is really great, as well, especially in the Explorers games, which were actually pretty dark. Perhaps I'll make a more in-depth review when I replay Blue Rescue Team and then eventually Explorers of Time.
Explorers of Time/Darkness
I'm starting off this review to say one thing- I love this game. I really love this game. I bought it cheap, expecting an average, run-of-the-mill spin-off. But trust me- it's WAY Better Than It Sounds. Saying this will probably end in my decapitation, but the gameplay itself isn't as godawful as everyone says. Sure, it has problems, but it's not terrible. For example, it can get painfully slow. This game allows multiple status conditions at once, unlike the main games, which takes forever to wear off unless the enemy puts you out of your misery, which makes a useless slot filler appear in your bag. And my God, THE SPEED BOOSTS. HATE them. HATE HATE HATE HATE them. You walk into a room with a monster house (random Pokémon rain from the sky and try to slaughter you), and one of them sharply raises the speed of every single enemy in the room- and uses its next turn to use the move again. This can take a minute of scrolling if it doesn't kill you. However, for players of the main games, you no longer fight one at a time in a Random Encounter that takes several seconds to load before you can run. Instead, you see everything coming and you fight it in the overworld, which is way faster than the traditional Pokémon battle if you don't get slowed down. Also, the dungeons have variety in the types, but the gyms in the main games are all one type, so they're predictable and easy. So, the gameplay isn't the best, but it's not "Omg teh wurst evarz". Now, saying that, what's so great about this game? First, the music is not only exceptionally well-done, but also well-placed, like this. But mostly, the story. This series focuses on character development and plot other than just becoming the master, which we didn't see in the main games until Black and White. The characters are well-written and you really do care that the hero and Grovyle have to sacrifice themselves for a better future to happen. In fact, all Grovyle even wants is that better future- a simple sunrise is the most beautiful thing he has ever seen. Your partner grows braver as the adventure goes on, all because of you. Everyone prays for your safety and rejoices when you return. It's definitely the most emotional game I've played. And hey, who didn't wish they were the Pokémon?
This is what happens when you try to make a Roguelike appeal to the masses.
As a fan of the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games, I can honestly say it's about the novelty, not the gameplay. When I first realized what these games were — PokĂ©mon - themed Rogue clones — I was amused by the concept. I'm also amused by how the little creatures have gorgeous sprites (even better than those in the recent Gold and Silver remakes), and they're not only talking coherent English now, but telling a very epic, hilarious, and heartfelt story. It's a well-written PokĂ©mon Fan Fic which deserved to be its own game. If you're into PokĂ©mon-centric fanfiction, especially transformation stories, you should have no trouble appreciating these games. It's hard to ignore the beautiful music, too. However, gameplay is another matter. In a nutshell? It's Easy, So It Sucks. I'm not saying the game should have been harder, I'm saying the concept was a contradiction from the start. Roguelikes are niche games; the whole appeal is how the game could screw you over at every turn, so each step must be calculated and resources must be micromanaged. Getting to Floor 200 of a dungeon without dying is something exhilarating, it means you were both skilled and lucky where it counted. To really enjoy these games, you should get drawn into a certain mindset where you don't expect to win, but you're going to go as far as you can anyway. But PokĂ©mon... is the dictionary definition of mainstream. To put "PokĂ©mon" into the title, you've got to appeal to the fans. Give the player enough storage to hold nearly 50 reviver seeds. Allow powerleveling. And no dungeons over 20 floors. After all, what good is the story if nobody's going to see the ending? But without that element of intense risk and thrill, dungeon crawling becomes just. Downright. Boring. Hold the run button, fill the map, attack sometimes. That's literally all. The games deserve every negative criticism they got for monotonous gameplay. Even the casual players found it wasn't exciting unless they were doing poorly, and just narrowly escaping with their lives. Because that's the Roguelike showing a tiny bit of its true nature. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon is just an unfortunate series: the gameplay can't work. But it does deserve thunderous applause for story, presentation, and everything it does right.
It's the story, not the gameplay
Alright people. Pokemon is a real slouch in story normally. Be a Master and stop an evil orgainization along the way. This all changes when YOU become the Pokemon. Right off the bat, my favoirte thing that keeps me replaying is the idea of what Pokemon I'll be next time. From a hardy Pikachu to a relaxed Vulpix, this keeps me trying again and finding some way to bring my every trusty Mudkip with me. (They liek me so I like 'em back.) The first game gets irony points for having two of my fave Pokemon being essiental to the story and the other being a starter. (Gardevoir and Ninetales and as I said Mudkips liek me!) The third, however gets the charm points with an eaiser difficulty and MUCH more charaterication. Not to metion Vulpix being a starter for the updated re-realease. The story grabs you in and sucks you through Nighmares and Heartwarmings. And of course, finding how to recruit a Ralts earlier. ^^ The charms rubs off and I will continue to put down my money for the chance to be a Pokemon and save the world again. Now if you'll excuse me, I got a Chatot to burn to a crisp.