Retro Review: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Red Rescue Team
I recently started going through a couple of Pokemon games that I used to play in my childhood. One of the more distinct games that I loved, were the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series. As a child I loved playing Explorers of the Sky. The story was well fleshed out, as is the whole Pokemon world that the game takes place in. Where you play as the Pokemon, not the trainer.
I remember when the original Red Rescue Team came out for the Gameboy Advance, and its twin for the Nintendo DS Blue Rescue Team. I remembered how I wanted to play it so bad, but I actually never got around to playing it until quite recently. And I was satisfied.
The game starts off with a personality quiz, where how you answer and your gender play a role in deciding which Pokemon you play as. After your choice is given, you get to choose a partner that will accompany you on your journey through the game. This was an interesting mechanic for a pokemon game, representing each Pokemon with a personality, and having the game choose for you. Personally, I don’t really mind, as long as the Pokemon isn’t a Rattata or a Pidgey. But others might not be so lenient at the fact that there is no choice in the matter.
The story was pretty intriguing; it definitely caught my attention from the start. You wake up as a Pokemon with no memories except your name and the fact that you were a human being. Upon being found by your partner, the both of you are forced into a situation where you rescue a Caterpie. From then, after being thanked, you and your partner start up a Pokemon rescue team.
To be honest, I did enjoy the story despite its childish aspect, which makes sense because Pokemon is targeted at children. But what I loved was the humanistic aspect that was brought into the Pokemon world. In the normal series, you play as a character, training Pokemon to finally beat the Elite Four and become the Champion of that region. But in Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, there are moments filled with emotions. For example, when it is thought that you were going to bring destruction on the world, the other Pokemon turn on you and you are forced to run away. The suddenness of it was truly heartbreaking. You could feel that the Pokemon that you bonded with hated that they had to chase you.
There was also the constant mystery of why you became a Pokemon. You find out about a story from many years ago, that a human once grabbed the tail of Ninetales. Unleashing its anger, it cursed the human. But the human’s Gardevoir took the curse in their master’s place, only to be cruelly abandoned. It was this human, that was prophesized by Ninetales to one day be reborn as a Pokemon and bring the world to ruin. This was an amazing concept. The fact that you occasionally get dreams from Gardevoir herself implements the fact that you were this selfish human that will bring ruin on the world. Here you are, a human turned into a Pokemon building bonds with others throughout the game, only to be told that you will be the one to bring ruin to the world. That is impressive if I do say so myself.
What I did not like about the story was that, at times, it is childish (again, I know it’s for children, but there are some parts which honestly could have been better). For example, I felt like the prophecy should have been held out for longer. As soon as you hear the prophecy, Gengar tells the town and you become a criminal. This had so much potential, why drop it so quickly? Imagine if the game, after being told of the prophecy, your character goes back to their normal duties. Natural disasters become more common, and your character starts to doubt themselves, wondering what he should do as he is the cause of the world’s destruction. You bond with other Pokemon, and as time goes on you find it harder to reveal your secret. Then, Gengar reveals your secret to the town. The impact would be larger, and the whole aspect of friends turned into your pursuers is more devastating. Would that not be better?
The second thing I did not like about the story, was the fact that you later find out that what you think is not quite true. You find out, that you are not the one that would bring destruction on the world. That conclusion is so unsatisfying. The game builds this idea of you being this character trying to defy fate, only to just drop it as a simple ‘it’s not you’ was infuriating. Would it not be better, to just continue with the idea that you would bring destruction on the world and you try and find a way to defy your ‘fate’? Imagine the desperation that could have been used in the story, it would have flowed better with such an amazing setup..
I liked how the game revolves around randomly created dungeons, each of them with different themes. You get jobs from the bulletin board, and you can choose to accept them. The whole dungeon is turned based, though it’s pretty clever how it retains a real-time action feel. Basically, you explore the dungeon and encounter other wild Pokemon, but they only move when you do. You proceed to different floors through the use of stairs, that thankfully you don’t have to fully explore each floor.
Another concept that I thought that was pretty cool was the linking of moves. At the Link Shop in Pokemon Square, you can link your moves together, meaning that in one turn, you can use more than one move in a turn. It makes combat easier, and the management of limited uses keeps the player on their toes at all times, because if one of your moves loses all its pp, the link falls apart and you have to re link them again.
Overall, I have no problems with mechanics. The only downside I have to the gameplay, is the repetitiveness if you decide to grind a bit. Going into a dungeon repeatedly eventually get’s stale and I admit, there were times where I put down the game just from sheer boredom at times. But it isn’t that big of a problem as long as you follow the story instead of grind like me.
I can’t say that much for other aspects of the game as there wasn’t much going for it. The music was simplistic, but I liked it as this was a simple game. It gave an enjoyable light hearted feel throughout the whole game, which I really appreciated. The Pokemon choices for NPC were well thought out as well, as each Pokemon represented their personality traits quite well. Overall, the smaller aspects of the game were like the icing on the cake, tweaking just enough to make this game memorable in my books.
The game is definitely aimed at children, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I just think if I was younger, the magic of this game would have caused me to fall head over heels in love. The story was well fleshed out apart from some rushed parts here and there, but other than that I enjoyed it. The gameplay got a little stale over the course of me playing this game, but there is no doubt that if I just stuck to the story I could have played it in one sit through. It was fun, inventive, challenging, and it was a creative direction that hadn’t been done at the time of its release. Overall it is a good game and I recommend if you are a fan of the Pokemon series.
- THE GOOD
- THE BAD
- Repetitive gameplay
- Pokemon is chosen for you
- Story could have been improved
Overall the game is not perfect, but it’s good enough to be considered fun. The story is well fleshed out apart from some parts that could have been improved on. The gameplay was unique and interesting, even though sometimes it get’s repetitive. The music was beautifully used to fit through the whole game, and I have no problems with it. So a great game.