Pokemon spin-off games may not have the prestige of the mainline series, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be good or successful in their own right. Pokemon Go hit supernova levels of popularity at launch and is still one of the biggest games in the world in terms of player base and revenue. Matter of fact, chasing Pokemon in the real world is what truly brought me into the fandom.
Though I’ve completely missed the window on the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series, it seems like the series has done well for itself. Over 13 million copies sold before the release of Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon is nothing to sneeze at. With a remake of the original on the way for the Nintendo Switch and a demo available now on the eShop, I take a stroll through Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX.
Taking place in a world where Pokemon live as their own civilization, you play as a human protagonist who wakes up as a Pokemon. Before the game starts, it will ask you a series of questions to help determine which of the 16 available Pokemon you’ll play as. Based on my answers, the game recommended Machop. If you don’t like its choice, you can pick whichever one you want. You’ll also get to choose a partner Pokemon who will fight alongside you for at least the start of the game.
Starting the game is a visual treat. Featuring the aesthetic of a watercolor painting, these cinematics look great. Was taken aback at the Pokemon speaking to each other in English, but I guess in a world where also live in their own society with houses and a mail delivery system, anything goes.
Your adventure begins when a Caterpie needs to be rescued from a cave. Besides being a confusing labyrinth, some of the Pokemon have become violent due to a supernatural phenomenon corrupting them. You’ll traverse through a randomly-generated levels, collecting items and defeating other Pokemon until you’re able to save the Caterpie at the end.
After playing the first mission, I was really confused at what I’d just played. I walked around the world and mashed the attack button until it was over. Didn’t feel like there was much to do.
Had to watch a video of someone else playing the demo to realize that there’s more going on under the hood. While it moves fluidly like an overhead Legend of Zelda game, it’s actually turn-based. Each step and action counts as a move. After each action, the computer will take an action. You can also pull up a menu to pick which attack you’d like to use, allowing you to leverage type advantage to smash foes with super effective moves. When approached as a turn-based game, it made a lot more sense to me and the second mission was more enjoyable.
From what I’ve played of the demo, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX seems like a neat twist on the core formula. You get the benefit of getting complete control of your Pokemon, as well as fighting with a snappier and streamlined combat system. You’ll also still get the opportunity to level up your Pokemon and add new Pokemon to your team throughout your adventure.
Even so, I’m not anxiously awaiting its release later this year. Appreciated the opportunity to try the demo, but its core gameplay loop didn’t feel like my cup of tea. Even after figuring out how to play it properly, its action still felt a bit too light for me.
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