Following on from the huge success of Pokemon Sword and Shield, which released back in November 2019, Pokémon fans can now get their hands on a new Pokémon adventure with the release of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX. Fans of the franchise might, however, recognize this from when it released on the Nintendo DS and Game Boy – this is, after all, an enhanced re-imagining of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team for Game Boy Advance and Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team for Nintendo DS.
In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX, you wake up in a world of Pokémon only to discover that you’ve become a Pokémon yourself. Your goal becomes solving the mystery of your strange predicament by befriending other Pokémon and traveling through dungeons that change every time you play. There are enemy Pokémon to battle and great treasures to discover as you continue your quest. This time around, the focus is solely on the Pokémon. With new beautiful visuals and a few gameplay improvements, this package now delivers a worthwhile experience, no matter if you’ve played the original games or not.
Before your adventure begins, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX poses a personality quiz. Your answers will determine what main Pokémon you’ll play as. This is certainly a unique way to go about deciding what Pokémon you play as. It can, however, be overridden if you so choose. You wake up seemingly with amnesia and feel like a human trapped inside a Pokémon body. To avoid spoilers, I won’t divulge too much about the narrative, but suffice to say it’s probably the game’s strongest asset and oozes charm.
The story itself is rather simplistic, but it’s the narratives of the individual Pokémon that prove to steal the show. Each Pokémon has unique and characteristic dialogue; the friendships you develop with these Pokémon will be the biggest reward from playing Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX. Equally as charming as the Pokémon themselves is the game’s aesthetic. The style is very unique and colourful and features a storybook-like design. Obviously, not all is picturesque and peaceful, the opposite of your Rescue team is the Evil (Meanies) team who naturally stand in your way.
Gameplay-wise, and as the title suggests, you spend a lot of time dungeon-crawling and rescuing other Pokémon that need your help. You select your squad of Pokémon and tackle the dungeon in what is a mashup of rogue-like dungeon-crawling and traditional Pokémon gameplay. Pokémon battles are fairly straightforward, either by attacking with the A button or picking a move tied to the left trigger and corresponding button. An interesting gameplay feature is that defeated Pokémon can be recruited to your squad to join your Rescue Team.
There is a fair amount of challenge involved in preparing for new dungeons and tweaking your team. Later in the game, you can evolve your Pokémon to add another layer of tactics. This gameplay cycle works well…for a while. The biggest issue Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX faces is that this gameplay loop becomes quite repetitive. If you’ve played the old Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team for Game Boy Advance and Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team for Nintendo DS games, then you’ll be familiar with this problem all too well.
My recommendation is to play Mystery Dungeon in short bursts. It works well as a game that you pick up and play for a while, enjoy its charm, and then come back again a little while later. When you grind and play too long, that’s where the game’s issues become glaringly obvious; those issues primarily being the repetition and the realisation that the game isn’t really very challenging and rather just has you repeating the same tasks over and over. This is exacerbated by the fact there’s little variety in the tasks you complete other than some minor side distractions that only provide momentary relief.
As aforementioned, the biggest upgrade in this re-imagining of the older DS and Game Boy games is in the visuals department. Visually, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX is a real feast for the eyes. The only downside worth mentioning is the fact that the dungeons, whilst randomly generated, all have a very familiar feel to them. Other than that, the aesthetic is lovingly charming and will have you fall in love with all the Pokémon in the game.
To sum it up, lovers of Pokémon should definitely consider picking this up. If you go in without expecting it to be on par with, say, Pokemon Sword and Shield, there’s a charming spin-off on offer here that will give you a good fix of Pokémon whilst we all wait for the next mainline game. If you forget the Pokémon for a second and focus on the gameplay, it does get repetitive, which is the biggest issue the game faces. If you, however, play in short bursts, I can see myself coming back every now and then to check in on my Rescue Team!
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 6th March 2020