Tie on your scarves and get ready for another installment in Pokemon’s most unorthodox series: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon.
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX, released Friday as a Nintendo Switch remake of the Gameboy Advance’s Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team and Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team. The story and new animations of the game truly make it shine, but it is bogged down by the repetitive grind of dungeon exploration.
The game is a dungeon-crawling role-playing game with a twist on the traditional Pokemon formula. Instead of controlling a human trainer and preparing a team for the Pokemon League, players assume direct control of a Pokemon and go on missions to rescue others from dungeons.
Rescue Team DX is very similar to its Game Boy Advance predecessors. Not much is different aside from the stunning new animation and slight changes in the plot and storytelling. The animation is most noticeable, considering the first Mystery Dungeon games released in 2005. In addition to new scenes and characters, the new effects and facial expressions add to the emotional impact of the game.
The new 3D model art style contributes a great deal to the remake’s storytelling. The faces, actions and cutscenes tell the story of the player-turned-Pokemon and its adventures with partner Pokemon in a rescue team. The relationship between the player and partner is where the story truly has its emotional peaks.
Unfortunately, the rest of the game is a tedious playthrough that lays out everything it has to offer within the first hours of gameplay.
The dungeons, where the bulk of the game takes place, are randomly generated rooms full of enemy Pokemon with one set of stairs that allow progression to the next level. The combat in these scenarios is just as tedious as the exploration. The turn-based battles are relatively easy and concluded quickly, but mashing the A button through menu after menu gets boring after the first couple encounters. Players may choose which move their controlled Pokemon uses, but this action slows the battles down even more.
It wasn’t until halfway through the game that I put it down and took a break from A button mashing for a few hours. Picking it back up, whether on the handheld console itself or docked big screen, I still found it hard to push through the repetitiveness of the game. The addition of auto-explore, which allows the lead party member to explore the dungeon without player input, helps alleviate some of the pain, but definitely not enough.
The game wasn’t made to break any boundaries in gameplay; it was made to satisfy those in the Pokemon community who wanted to see Mystery Dungeon revived on the Switch with enhanced storytelling. With its familiar turned-based gameplay and its newfound art style and storytelling, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX does its best to serve its purpose on the Switch. In the end, it succeeds, although with minimal marks for gameplay that keeps you mashing the A button.