Pokémon Mystery Dungeon
Courtesy of PokeCommunity Daily
Welcome back, Pokémon fans! Today I want to discuss a Pokémon spin-off franchise that I love very much: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon! Pokémon Mystery Dungeon deviates from the traditional Pokémon formula: instead of playing as a Pokémon trainer, you play as a human who has been transformed into a Pokémon and transported to a world of only Pokémon. Once you’re there, you and your partner Pokémon meet and form a rescue team, which goes on missions to dungeons to rescue other Pokémon. Your job is to advance through dungeons, defeat the legendary Pokémon boss and save the Pokémon world. On your journey, you learn more about your transformation into a Pokémon and become best friends with your partner. Afterwards, you have to return to the human world, and the goodbye between your farewell is heart-wrenching. Luckily, there is a way to return to the Pokémon world, and you successfully reunite with your partner. The plot has variations among the games, but the overarching story is the same.
Dungeons, which I mentioned earlier, are the main gameplay mechanic of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon. Every dungeon has between 3 and 99 randomly generated floors made up of many rooms joined by narrow corridors. Before you enter the dungeon, you have to put together your rescue team of 1-4 members, depending on the game itself and Pokémon size. Your rescue team has to traverse through each floor of the dungeon and reach the stairs, which advance you to the next floor. There’s no better feeling in a Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game than when you spawn in the same room as the stairs. On the other hand, sometimes you traverse the entire floor before finding the stairs in the last room you enter.
Dungeons hold that can impede your progress. Some have weather conditions you must take into account while dungeon-crawling, but sandstorm and hail are the worst ones. Both damage most Pokémon every few steps, and that damage racks up quickly. In later dungeons, rooms can have invisible traps on the floor with all kinds of unfortunate effects such as causing status conditions or summoning Pokémon to attack you. Another obstacle is hunger, a mechanic present in every PMD game (although PMD: Gates to Infinity only has hunger in three post game dungeons). As you walk through the dungeon, your hunger slowly drains, you take damage as you walk when your hunger hits zero. You have to keep your hunger up by eating apples you either bring into the dungeon or find lying around in it. PP management is essential for getting through longer dungeons. PP stands for power points and represents how many times you can use a particular move. Your PP won’t last through longer dungeons, so it’s important to bring PP-restoring items. Monster houses, rooms that spawn in many enemy Pokemon, are another dungeon danger. They can catch you off guard, so you must always be careful.
Dungeons have many obstacles to face, but they also have helpful features. Wonder tiles restore all stat changes to normal, perfect if an enemy Pokémon lowered your stats. Helpful items are strewn across the rooms of almost every dungeon. Kecleon shops where you can buy useful items can also appear in dungeons, but if you steal from the Kecleon shop, the immensely powerful Kecleon will attack you as revenge (I’m a stickler for rules, though, so I’ve never tried this myself).
While traversing a dungeon, you will encounter many hostile enemy Pokémon. The Pokémon that show up in each dungeon depends on the dungeon’s theme and difficulty. If you defeat these Pokémon, there is a chance that they will join your party, and if they survive until you complete the dungeon, you get to recruit them to your rescue team! Having extra Pokémon in your party helps you fight the other Pokémon in the dungeon. A fun challenge in Pokemon Mystery Dungeon is trying to recruit every Pokemon in the game! The number of Pokemon available varies between games, but there are always at least a few hundred, so it’s a tough task.
Next, I must explain the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon battle system. It’s a turn-based system, but actions outside of battle work on turns as well. Every Pokémon on the floor, that is you, your teammate(s) and all the enemy Pokémon, gets to take one action per turn under normal circumstances. Moving one tile in any direction, using an item and using a move all count as an action. Some items, such as Quick Seeds in PMD: Rescue Team DX, allow you to take two actions per turn. Usually, your HP replenishes as you walk, but if you have a status condition such as burn or poison or if sandstorm or hail is up and you’re not immune to it, you will take damage instead. Positioning is important in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon because every move has its own range. Some attack one tile in front of you, some attack up to four tiles in front of you and some affect the entire room. Ranged attacks are excellent in these games since you can attack the enemy while they are too far away to attack you. Some attacks can also attack across corners while others cannot. Battling in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon can be tricky, but it can also be very rewarding.
I’ve loved Pokémon Mystery Dungeon for a long time. My first PMD game was Gates to Infinity, which came out in the United States in early 2013. I have many good memories of playing that game: developing Pokémon Paradise, playing the mini-games there and travelling through dungeons. The story was sweet, and the plot twist concerning who the real villains were is excellent. Earlier this year I played Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX, which came out in March of 2020, and really enjoyed it. It’s a remake of the original Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games, Red and Blue Rescue Team, which I had thought about playing for some time. Rescue Team DX is a very faithful and polished remake of those games. The game looks excellent, the numerous dungeons are fun and challenging, it has small but valuable improvements over the original games, and the soundtrack is wonderful.
Overall, I’ve had a great experience playing many Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games. They’re very enjoyable Pokémon spin offs. I hope that this article helped you learn more about these great Pokémon games or just learn about them if you have never heard of them before. I hope you liked this article, and see you in a few weeks, Pokémon fans!