Our adventure begins!
I love the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series. It is easily my favourite spin off games form the normal Pokemon franchise and I feel it has the ability to stand as its very own series and not just be classified as a Spin off series. Indeed Nintendo seem to think the same thing as Mystery Dungeon has had more iterations than any other spin off title. So when Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon comes around I am expecting big things. Will it continue to provide the engaging and thought provoking story similar to the previous games and will I find myself coming back to play it as often as I can? Let’s find out.
The story of this game starts off like any other Pokemon Mystery Dungeon. You are a human who has been turned into a Pokemon (which Pokemon you have turned into is determined by a personality test you take at the start of the game). You find yourself in this strange new world and end up being taken in by a nearby resident who helps send you to the local school and interact with the local Pokemon residents, what a responsible citizen! However danger is soon afoot as rumours begin to spread of Pokemon turning into stone. It’s up to you and your trusty partner Pokemon to find out the mystery of what is going on and help to stop it. The story seems rather generic at first glance and seems to have the similar type of ‘good guys versus bad guys’ motives. However once you start uncovering more about what is going on you start to appreciate the story more, even having it tear at your heart strings at various points. The story covers some rather dark subject matter for a Pokemon game and really makes you question some of the things that are going on. And the twists… goodness me the twists, this is a rollercoaster of an experience. Is the story as good as previous games? I would say it does live up and while some characters do not seem to be as memorable as previous iterations I would say that just experiencing the story as it progresses from a small scale happy fun time for yourself to a huge global scale disaster story makes for an engaging experience.
The presentation is rather nice looking for a 3DS game. As is standard due to the recent iterations of Pokemon games all characters are rendered as 3D models and travel around the environments just like any other Mystery Dungeon game. While the graphics themselves look rather simple to some I find them very clean and colourful. While I do kind of miss the sprite artwork and beautiful hand-drawn environment design of the previous games I do find this game to look very appealing. It also appears to be one of the best running 3DS games as I found it to be very fluid and fast paced, while still retaining a nice graphical upkeep. The environment design in some dungeons look really nice as they provide a different looking environment than just cave #23. An example of which was when I was on a mountain dungeon and I saw the overlooks and suspended pathways that made up the dungeon floor, it really astounded me! The music too is incredible as the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series has had some of the best music available. While some songs aren’t as memorable as previous iterations (who doesn’t remember the guild theme from explorers of time/darkness/sky?) it does help to keep a nice upbeat tone while also keeping some beautiful orchestrated pieces for when things get serious.
The gameplay is the typical Mystery Dungeon series which if you don’t know is a ‘Rougelike’ series of dungeons in which you must ascend or descend each floor by finding the stairs at each stage. In the way are various Pokemon, traps and items that you must defeat or collect in order to help yourself stay healthy as you go through each dungeon. The biggest difference this game has with its predecessors is the fact that this game is HARD. I say that with capitals as the difficulty can be overwhelming at times. You will almost always feel underlevelled during your adventures and enemies in dungeons feel a lot more deadly than they have in previous games. This encourages you to use the various different items available to you during the dungeons and also means you must focus more on team composition, movement, placement of allies and type matchups in order to succeed. I would not recommend this to a newer player to the series as it really pushes you to use everything at your disposal. This makes the agme a lot more tactical, which I appreciate as I always like games that focus on tactics rather than just holding your hand the whole way through. The recruitment system has also been simplified into an act of doing missions for Pokemon and then they will join you. This helps you to get Pokemon easier and even gives you so relatively high level Pokemon early in the game (looking at you Salamence…). This is balanced however by the ‘step out’ system in which Pokemon aren’t always available to be used in dungeons (they have their own lives too ya know!) and thus the game actively encourages you to have several team compositions that you switch around. While this does mean you will use a lot more Pokemon that you probably wouldn’t use normally it makes using a singular team of your best Pokemon difficult if not impossible which is a real shame.
While the game does do a lot of things to change the series that I like there are things that it doesn’t do well. As I mentioned if you don’t like difficult games then you won’t like this one as you really need to rack your brain and use all the items you can in order to even just scrape by. You may even need to resort to codes which will help you get more items in order to feel like you are keeping up. I also felt that the Post Game story was… quite lacking. it consisted of about three missions and then I was sent to just do what I wanted essentially. I did get the option to find secret treasures but it just felt like ticking things off of a list rather than experiencing a brand new story. Explorers of Darkness/Time/Sky had an extensive Post Game and it makes me sad that now I am just resorting to collecting as many Pokemon as I can and challenging myself to get through tough dungeons.
Overall however I adore this game. It does a lot of things to streamline and speed up the gameplay while still providing a great amount of challenge to those who enjoy the Mystery Dungeon series. If you haven’t played a Mystery Dungeon game before I would say maybe try one of the older versions first before going onto this one but if you know and love the series then this is the game for you. Now if you don’t mind Team Infestation needs to go save more Pokemon!