|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Chunsoft||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept 2006||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|Review by Zach||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Zach Timberton
Brand loyalty is becoming an epidemic. We take whatever scraps our sacred corporate cow throws our way. We must learn to be more discriminating if we are to assure ourselves of quality - as in the glut of Pokemon-inspired games. The main role-playing game is a classic, I wont argue with that but all of the spin-offs are not. Just because it says Pokemon in the title doesnt mean its a great game, or even a good game. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon goes right for the throat by claiming to offer a true RPG experience similar to the main game. While Mystery Dungeon is not a bad game it only skims the surface of what a good RPG is about, which is definitely not instant gratification. Theres little to work for in this game as its all just dungeon crawling, which is superficial and repetitive. Its like a best-of rerun of previous Pokemon RPGs.
Theres little advantage to owning the DS version over the GBA version since it was originally designed for the GBA. That means the graphics and sound are likely to suffer, and they do. The implementation of the touch controls and dual screen is little more than a hollow gesture to satiate DS owners and trick them into thinking the DS version is the superior product. In my opinion, this is a better GBA game than a DS game simply because I expect a lot more from DS games other than GBA ports. I hope this doesnt become a trend. Dont say you havent been warned about not being a discriminating consumer. But what are you going to do if you really want to play this game? Like I mentioned, its not a bad game and youll probably enjoy it if youre a brand loyal Pokemon fanatic. However, I would advise renting it. After a day youll begin to see how repetitive it is. Even though the dungeons are different, they all use the same standard formula. In fact, the entire gameplay is formulaic. Been there, done it.
Your character has mysteriously been transformed into a Pokemon. Not only will you have to figure out what has happened to you, but in the meantime you will be asked to take advantage of your new-found powers to join the Pokemon Rescue Team and assist fellow Pokemon in danger. This breaks down into exploring the area, entering a dungeon, collecting the loot, avoiding the traps and pitfalls, combating enemies and then finding your way to the exit. When you return home to a heros welcome you can look forward to doing it all over again, and again and again.
Dungeons are randomly generated so that they are never the same twice, but the structure is always identical. You will find the requisite treasures and food along the way as well as the turn-based battles which are of the rock/paper/scissor format. You do get to customize some attacks, link various moves and add new characters to your party but you wont find that these features add much more depth or strategy to the already over-simplified combat system.
There are about 12 different Pokemon characters that you can choose from and the gameplay does try to coerce you to collect em all. The wireless connectivity for this DS version only allows you to trade data with other players. There is no multi-player or co-op mode. The characters in your party are strictly AI controlled. It does a decent job, but its not like playing with a real friend. They dont really get in the way as much as they dont really do much to help you on their own. You have to instigate all the important commands, so its like playing by yourself anyway.
The wireless connectivity may be a disappointment since you can only trade with it, but so are the other exclusive DS features such as the touch controls and dual screen. All of the action is relegated to the top portion of the screen while the bottom screen displays on the very basic of information, stuff that could easily be displayed on the top screen such as dialog. Using the stylus is sloppy and cumbersome compared to the D-pad which is not only more precise but has a good feel to it. The graphics are definitely not up to DS standards and the sound effects and soundtrack are bare bones. Youre not getting your moneys worth with the production values but to be fair I didnt come across any technical problems.
Im confident that youll eventually grow weary of the repetitious dungeon crawling. The game can be played at intervals, as you can save your progress after each mission. This may extend your love affair with it because the only thing that can make you grow fond of the game is absence. But if you want to save some money, rent it for a day or two and have your way with it. Its likely that you wont respect it in the morning.
by Zach Timberton
CCC Freelance Writer