| |

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team Review

Disclosure: We may earn a commission from links on this page

Developer: Chunsoft Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: September 19, 2006 Also On: None

It’s been almost 17 months since a new Pokemon game came out. Pokemon Emerald, that last game, wasn’t an all-new adventure but it featured a few new touches to the same old Pokemon formula, and that kept fans playing the game. So much time has passed and Pokemon fans like me were left wondering when they’d be able to feed that Pokemon craving. Nintendo, Creatures, and Game Freak let Chunsoft take the reins, and the product was the multi-platform Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series. That last statement is quite possibly the knife in the back of this year’s only new Pokemon release: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, in both the Rescue Team Red GBA version and the Rescue Team Blue DS version, is a repetitive game that lacks the life, charm, energy, and fun of the rest of the games in the ever-growing Pokemon franchise.

In Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, you assume the role of a human-turned-Pokemon. What Pokemon you are depends on your answers of a few personality-based questions at the start of the game. The “twist” here is that there are no humans in this Pokemon land, and you communicate with other Pokemon to partake in rescue missions throughout the land. Sadly, few of the Pokemon have anything interesting to say that doesn’t pertain to rescue missions, so the game feels like a linear affair. Take rescue missions, beat rescue missions, and repeat the process until the game’s over and you can go to some of the “secret” and more dangerous dungeons.

The dungeons themselves are extremely boring. I absolutely hated them. They’re big, randomly-generated maps with freely-roaming and constantly-respawning wild Pokemon to battle. You can find items and traps throughout the dungeon as well, but that’s very generic for the random-dungeon RPG genre. The random designs don’t include any sort of interesting environmental attributes, so you’re mostly running down hallways and looking for the stairway to the next floor of the dungeon. As the game progresses, the dungeons get bigger but never better. After a very short while, I just started looking for the exit to each floor as quickly as possible, which made leveling up a difficult thing to do.

The battle gameplay is very similar to other Pokemon games, but it’s all done in a touchy real-time system. You’ll run up to monsters, select an attack, and wait for the opponent to die before moving onto the next one. Unfortunately, since this game has freely-roaming enemies, it is possible to get surrounded by enemies, which makes everything even more frustrating. The battles aren’t fun and with each wild Pokemon I found, I simply wanted to move on as quickly as possible. Since you can’t capture Pokemon (you’re not a trainer, after all), there is almost no fun to be had while battling monsters in this game. You’ll get more Pokemon on your team as you go through the game, and there are specific areas where certain Pokemon can join your team, but you won’t be able to catch and raise them as you please. There is some depth to developing your rescue team. For example, you can change their A.I., IQ, and battle settings.
Because of this, CPU-controlled Pokemon can interact with the environment and different situations in a more intelligent fashion. This doesn’t make the battle system any more interesting, though, ultimately making Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team a sickening dud when it comes to gameplay.

Getting to a Game Over screen has never been okay in a Pokemon game, but Pokemon Mystery Dungeon takes that frustration to a whole new level: if you die, every single item in your 20-item inventory toolbox is lost and you must restart the dungeon from the very beginning. This makes the repetitive, generic dungeons even more frustrating to get through and the dull battles even duller.

Visually, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team is a GBA game at heart. DS owners will be very disappointed with the basic sprites, horribly dull environments, and lackluster attack animation. The only saving grace visually is the art, which is quite nice. The sound effects are as generic as they have been since Pokemon Blue and Red, and the music is less catchy and more annoying.

Fans of random dungeon hacks might find a little to enjoy here, since Pokemon Mystery Dungeon is a very generic random dungeon hack-and-slash RPG. But Pokemon fans should tough it out and wait for Pokemon Pearl and Pokemon Diamond to come out next year, because Pokemon Mystery Dungeon is like nothing you’ve played before, and it’s nothing interesting, either. There are so many better GBA games out there and so many better DS games coming out that dropping $35 for either version of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon is a waste of your hard-earned cash.

Graphics: 5
Sound: 5
Gameplay: 4.5
Creativity: 5
Replay Value/Game Length: 5
Final: 4.9
Written by Cliff Review Guide