Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX looks great, but is held back by some frustrating gameplay mechanics.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX is a remake of Pokémon: Mystery Dungeon Red Rescue Team and Pokémon: Mystery Dungeon Blue Rescue Team. Phew, glad I got those long titles out of the way. Mystery Dungeon has always been an odd spin-off series. The setup is weird, you’re a human transformed into a Pokémon. Everyone seems to think you’re insane except the strange, trustworthy partner of yours. However, despite its oddities, Mystery Dungeon is addictive and extremely charming.
So when a remake was announced, I was kind of excited. Blue Rescue Team was one of the first Nintendo DS games I owned. Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX is a decent remake… most of the time. The quality of life changes that it introduces are questionable and the repetitive nature of the game hinders the overall experience.
A Simple Premise
At the beginning of every Mystery Dungeon game, you are thrown into a ‘personality quiz’. In the original version, the chosen answers would force you into playing as a specific Pokémon. Over the years, the personality quiz has lost its purpose. Once the rapid-fire trivia is over, you can now say no. This is also present in Rescue Team DX. Personally, I think it removes some of the charm from the game. On the other hand, it lets players have full control over their playthrough.
The adventure begins when you wake up as a Pokémon. Throughout my playthrough, I took on the shoes of a Totodile, or you could say blue sharp feet. Immediately upon awakening, you meet your partner Pokémon. This choice is completely up to you, for the sake of continuity I went with Pikachu.
Pikachu, with a bewildered look, criticizes you for being such a weirdo. The game then immediately chucks you straight into the action. A Butterfree, who is excellent at parenting, has lost their child – Caterpie. It’s up to you to go save it and this introduces you to the formulaic approach of Rescue Team DX.
Throughout the adventure, you’ll encounter stronger enemies, rivals and more reasons to rescue other critters. Story-wise, Rescue Team DX is the same as the original. There are a few minor additions, such as extra dialogue in certain situations. Like the original, the story isn’t deep but provides enough purpose for your adventure.
Rescue Team DX has a roguelike setup. You’ll explore the game’s titular mystery dungeons to perform rescue missions. In the game’s hub-world, Pokémon Square, you’ll take on specific requests from the bulletin board. Every now and then, the main story mission will be thrown at you. The gameplay loop is simple and unfortunately repetitive. Although this was a problem in the original, it is emphasized more in Rescue Team DX This comes down to the new issues added to the overall experience.
Some quality of life changes are for the best, like the ability to have up to eight Pokémon in your party. However, additional frustrating mechanics are also included in Mystery Dungeon DX. Shiny Pokémon are now available in DX and for us shiny hunter veterans that seems exciting. Rescue Team DX has a sense of randomness throughout the gameplay.
For example, the mystery dungeons are randomly generated hence the naming convention. If you run into a Shiny, like I did the first reaction is nothing but excitement. In this version, it’s more dread than happiness. The rare color variant has a chance of joining you, which is honestly quite slim. Recruitment in Mystery Dungeon has never really been great and the addition of shiny Pokémon leads to disappointing results.
Visuals That Truly “Pop”
Rescue Team DX’s biggest strength is its art direction. The visual style represents that of a children’s book. The concept of the game’s narrative coincides well with this pop-up book kind of feel. The only downside to the games graphical fidelity is when you’re playing the game in docked mode. Mystery Dungeon has always been a handheld franchise, so the transition to a home console brings mixed results.
With the Nintendo DS family of systems, we had access to two screens. This meant that information and gameplay were shared amongst both displays. Obviously, we don’t have that luxury with the Switch. Menus are a bit more of a nightmare to get through and it simply doesn’t look as good. If you’re playing the game portably, it isn’t as bad. The game looks and runs well while playing on the go. However, the game’s visuals are still downright gorgeous despite these minor annoyances.
Rescue Team DX retains the catchy tunes from the original games. This time around they are clearer and remastered to fit the current hardware. My only complaint is that the music starts to become annoying. Especially the over-world theme, there’s no escaping it. At first, it’s catchy, but then it slowly begins to drill itself into your brain.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX is a clumsy remake. There are a few things that it gets right, such as the visuals and accessibility of the game. It is tainted by frustrating refinements and additions. The gameplay gets old fast and doesn’t motivate you with the available content. Don’t get me wrong though, there is still some fun to be had but at the cost of many hours of frustration.
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Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX