Developer – Chunsoft
Publisher - Nintendo
Wireless DS Multi-card Play
Dual Screen Compatible
Touch Screen Compatible
The only time I play any of the Pokemon series is when Nintendo sends us a review copy. Don’t get me wrong, there are good Pokemon games out there, but the series has never really been my kind of game. The newest game for Pokemaniacs on the DS is Pokemon Mystery Dungeon – Blue Rescue Team. Now the interesting thing about this is that it is not done by the usual Pokemon developers. This latest entry into the Pokemon Game Universe is a game that was developed for both the GBA and the DS with the latter version using the touch screen for gameplay. It is based on the developers long running Mystery Dungeon games (I had to research that) but it now includes a Pokemon twist.
As this game is a dual platform game (GBA and DS) the graphics are definitely not that cutting edge as it takes into the consideration the lowest common denominator, the GBA. There are some nicely drawn areas with some good looking scenery (e.g. the overworld village) that is colourful and bright, but you do not spend a lot of time here as the game takes place mostly in dungeons, and these dungeons are very repetitive in terms of the looks (e.g. textures) and they are not that colourful nor bright. Animation in the game is very limited too, even the attacks, and this really did catch me off guard and I was somewhat disappointed. That being said, I don’t think that game is going to interest the diehard or graphics only gamers. It is Pokemaniacs out there who will most likely pick this up not for looks, but for the thrill of gathering even more of these collectible creatures.
As for the sound in this game, many have heard it from me before in other reviews I have written, and here I go again, it is nothing special. Music is somewhat catchy but it repeats itself way too much for my liking. As for the sound effects they just don’t have any oomph to them either. If anything, the quality sounds like they were taken from some much earlier versions an Pokemon game as they don’t sound like something today’s machines, even the GBA. Overall the message does get through, but it could have been so much more, especially on the DS’s stereo speakers.
The story in Mystery Dungeon – Blue Rescue Team has you playing the role of someone who has been transformed into a Pokemon and transported to a disaster ridden world which is populated by numerous wild Pokemon. While in this world you team up with another Pokemon and you two form a “Rescue Team” that go around and help, you guessed it, other Pokemon that have been trapped in dungeons all around the world you traverse. As the title “Mystery Dungeon” suggests, you will be spending a lot of time exploring random dungeons in your quest to help all the trapped Pokemon in the game.
As this is not your typical Pokemon title there are no trainers around for you to acquire new Pokemon via the traditional capturing method. This time around the wild Pokemon you defeat will occasionally offer to join your rescue team. On a plus side the process of teaching new attacks to your Pokemon remains pretty much the same as past Pokemon titles as they learn new attacks when they reach certain levels or you can use rare TM items to teach them attacks whenever you may choose. I also want to point out that this game also has elemental affinities, something that many Pokemon veterans will recognize. For example, water Pokemon are strong against fire Pokemon while ghost Pokemon stronger against psychic Pokemon. You get my drift.
As I played this game I took the view that it is an RPG with Pokemon attributes. Unfortunately as an RPG Mystery Dungeon is pretty simple and it can get pretty old pretty fast. Each floor in the various dungeons starts to look virtually identical and seems to contain the same Pokemon in each dungeon. As you battle the various Pokemon you come across you will find that you will use the same specific move that you find most useful and it becomes somewhat boring. It would have been nice to see some strategic element to each battle and have each one provide differing challenges. Boss Battles are also a letdown as you can virtually let your CPU controlled party members do all the work. Now where is the fun in that? Being that the game is over simplified I view this as good and bad. It is good in that it allows the younger audience to play a RPG that is not overly complex; however the bad is that it does not offer a lot of depth for the RPG fanatic or experience gamer.
For those not in the know, there are two versions of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon as there is a Red and Blue Rescue Team version. The red is for the GBA and the Blue is for the DS. I haven’t played the Red Rescue Team version, but from what I understand it is the same story and same characters. Where the difference lies is that there are a few Pokemon that are not in the other. Blue Rescue Team for the DS allows for dual screen and touch-screen compatibility. The lower screen allows for viewing the game while the top screen allows for health, status and item indicators to remain visible during all facets of gameplay. The DS does seem to be the version to get as the benefits of the dual screens somewhat make this a better game and the DS Lite has some pretty good screens.
Nintendo did put a multiplayer feature or two into the DS version. One mode is known as unknown dungeon. Once selected your DS goes into sleep mode and searches out other DS’s and owners who have selected the same. Once it finds another Blue Rescue Team game your Pokemon will automatically visit dungeons in the other person’s game and bring back some rare items. Another interesting multiplayer mode is that you can also call a friend for help or answer your friend's call for a rescue. When your team is knocked out in a dungeon, you have the option to send a rescue request to your friend and if they accept the request they can journey to the corresponding spot in their own copy of the game where you were knocked out and revive you with all of your items intact. Friends can send and receive rescue requests and items in a varying method of ways between both versions of the game. Two copies of the DS game can initiate a wireless link, two copies of the GBA game can initiate a cable link, and the DS and GBA games can share data when both versions are plugged into a single DS. You can also use passwords to send items and requests between any two versions of the game. It was nice to see that Nintendo made an effort to allow all owners of either version of this game interact with each other in one way or another.
This game is not the most appealing Pokemon game out there, and this is coming from someone who is not huge fan of the series. With oversimplified gameplay and sub-par graphics Pokemon Mystery Dungeon – Blue Rescue Team does not have the depth one would hope. And with the upcoming release of Pokemon Diamond and Pearl around the corner, fans of the series maybe better off waiting until that time.