by Emily Reuben
Being a fan of Nintendo’s ever-popular Pokémon series, I am always excited to see what new innovations Nintendo and Game Freak will add. With 720 monsters to catch and train, there are almost endless gaming possibilities. Despite the often celebrated replay value of the Pokémon series, some players complain that the formula is far too predictable. In every game you are guaranteed to have a starter Pokémon, train a team, fight gym leaders, and take on the Elite 4.
This can easily become tiresome to some players. This is where the Mystery Dungeon spin-offs really shine through. Instead of trying to be the greatest Pokémon trainer, the player is turned into a Pokémon themselves and the ultimate goal is to explore dungeons. The newest edition to the Mystery Dungeon series, Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon, adds progressive battle mechanics, new areas, and an interesting story, while continuing to improve on what that had originally made the series a hit.
What kind of Pokémon are you?
As in every Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game, the player is required to take a quiz to determine which Pokémon they will become and who their partner Pokémon will be. The questions are extremely vague, but even so, they serve a purpose. Every answer selected helps to determine which Pokémon character the player’s personality aligns with. Something great that has been added is the ability to reject the quiz’s result, meaning that the player does not have to be stuck playing a Pokémon they do not like.
After the quiz, the player is shown a cut scene set in space. Two legendary Pokémon, Deoxys and Rayquaza are introduced to set the tone for the game. Rayquaza has left its normal territory, worrying Deoxys, who states that there must be something awry.
From this scene it is apparent that something ominous is about to take place. With this in mind, the player wakes up as a Pokémon, confused about their past. During the beginning of the game, a series of tutorials take place, which can be quite tedious. For players that are well acquainted with the series, the tutorials will probably be extremely obnoxious. They are not skippable and last for the first few dungeons.
Personality no longer second to dungeons
The plot is nothing too complicated. The game is certainly more focused on exploring dungeons than it is with character development or story. This is one area that every Mystery Dungeon game falls short in. Characters are never given too much personality outside of “wanting to be an explorer”. Super Mystery Dungeon succeeds in adding much needed character to a series with emotionless partners and non- playable characters. The player’s partner Pokémon has flaws and goals. The player’s Pokémon reflects on certain situations depending on which options are selected. With these advances, characters seem to be much more relatable and amusing than those in the past.
A whole new world to see
This game is much bigger than any of the previous games. Instead of being confined to one small town and multiple dungeons, Super Mystery Dungeon allows for the player to explore 5 new continents. This makes the game feel bigger and more alive. There always seems to be a new dungeon area to explore. The dungeons are each randomly generated, meaning that each time exploring will be different than the last.
Vibrant cutscenes and game world
Super Mystery Dungeon looks very similar to the previous installment, Gates to Infinity on the Wii U. The character models are in 3D, making Super Mystery Dungeon the first handheld Mystery Dungeon game to transition to 3D models. The models look great and really help to make the game feel more immersive. Cut scenes have much more character to them because the 3D models allow for more movement and expression than static pixels. For the most part, the game utilizes bright colors to give it an innocent appearance. This works very well during some portions of the game, however, there are instances when this appears childish and does not fit the tone of the story.
While the design is by no means perfect, I would say that this is the best looking game in the Mystery Dungeon series because of the added motions of the characters and detail to environmental design.
A few of the newer gameplay mechanics are derived from advances in main series Pokémon games. For example, Mega-Evolution and Awakening have been added to reflect additions in Pokémon X and Y. This adds many new Pokémon and types available for gameplay, which is always a nice feature. The most useful advance is the addition of team sets. This allows a player to make pre-set teams for dungeons and select a team whenever entering a dungeon, removing the need to make a tedious trek for a favored teammate. New held items called “Looplets” allow a character to collect “Emeras.” Emeras give teammates a temporary stat boasts while in a dungeon. Some of these boasts effect statuses like defense and attack, making the Pokémon stronger, while others allow the Pokémon to avoid traps and stat reductions, essentially allowing for more personalization regarding teammate abilities and strengths.
Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon is an excellent addition to the Mystery Dungeon series. While the game is still extremely simplistic in regards to story and character, there is much more focus in both of these areas than in previous installments. Dungeons also have many new mechanics which allow for many strategic styles of gameplay. With a combination of new dungeon mechanics, interesting characters, and an updated game design, Super Mystery Dungeon appeals to longtime fans of the series and newcomers alike.
+More character personalities than previous games
+Ability to choose characters
+Many new gameplay mechanics
+Multiple new areas to explore
Originally posted on November 24, 2015
Emily is a Telecommunications (Film and Media Studies) major minoring in Japanese and Professional Writing in Emerging Media. Emily writes film and gaming reviews.