When it comes to mystery dungeon games, there’s only been one series that I’ve ever looked at, and that was back during the third generation of Pokémon. With Red Rescue Team on the GBA, I played through the story, enjoying a different take on the mechanics for the franchise. It might have been the usual turn-based affair, but this time positioning was critical for battles.
I played it through to the end, with the interactions between characters and the ever-unravelling mystery of why you got turned into a Pokémon and the natural disasters that were ripping through the world keeping me with it. It might have been standard RPG fare, but the writing was good enough for it to not matter.
When new games in the series released, I wasn’t much interested, with the only other being Gates to Infinity – which only saw around 14 hours of play when I bought it in 2015. So with the remake of the original announced in January, would it manage to hold me enough to keep me going until the end?
So far, I think I can say it’s a resounding yes, with everything feeling familiar to that original release. The art style has seen a complete overhaul to bring about the look of a watercolour painting, with dungeons also looking a lot prettier than the original. It all looks utterly beautiful, and reliving this adventure gives the same feelings.
I’m enjoying revisiting this story, having beaten the first true boss of the game. The mechanics are similar to what they always have been, though there’s now a few adjustments. The basic attack is no longer a thing, meaning this is all about the moves the ‘mon can use.
The moves will still grow through use, with that growth carrying over to any ‘mon who is able to use that move. The positioning is still as vital as ever, with certain moves able to hit a target two tiles away. Items are also still important, with the regular healing items still around along with the seeds and orbs and throwable rocks and spikes.
The recruitment mechanic has seen a greater overhaul, with management of teams being handled on the setting out for adventure screen instead of needing to visit those ‘mon who have been recruited. You can still visit them, but everything is handled through menus instead of having individual locations where those ‘mon you’ve recruited wander freely until called on.
Purchasing the camps is also slightly easier, with all of them available to buy from the off rather than being added once you go to new dungeon locations. This means that it’s entirely possible you’ll have the required camp for when that ‘mon wants to join your team within a dungeon.
But even if not, they can still be recruited, where they’ll tag along until the end of the adventure, leaving you a sum of money as thanks. Or, if you have a specific item, you can access the camp buying menu from within a dungeon to purchase the required camp. Such an item is single use, but are rewarded through missions often enough.
And you have an easier time of things within dungeons as well in terms of recruiting, as not only will your starters have a rare ability that boosts the chance of a recruitment opportunity, there will also be ‘mon who have fainted and guarantee a recruitment as long as you have an apple to spare.
All of this does lend to an easier experience in battles as long as you keep a full party of recruits. Everyone is also now gaining experience from battles – even those back in the camps – so as long as you aren’t progressing through the story too quickly, you’ll have a lot of battle-ready choices for when you do decide to progress.
Now mystery dungeon games aren’t for everyone, but with most of the basic mechanics of the franchise found here, I’m sure any Pokémon fan can find something to like about this. There is repetition involved as you trawl through the dungeons – which will probably start to wear in longer dungeons – but the same can be said of any RPG.
I’d definitely give this a recommendation to anyone, but if you are unsure that it is for you, there’s a demo that you can try on the eShop that introduces the mechanics with the first two dungeons. It’s a great remake of the originals, and I can only hope this shows interest in the series to bring a completely new game to Switch.