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Author Topic: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Explorers of Darkness  (Read 9489 times)

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Offline Flames_of_chaos

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Platform: Nintendo DS |  Price: $34.99 | Player(s) 1 | Online enabled - Yes

(Note: Explorers of Darkness version reviewed, the difference between both versions are negligible some items are rarer in one version and same goes for different Pokemon encountered in the dungeons. So this review can apply to both versions.)

The Mystery Dungeon series has existed since the Super Nintendo era, each game associated with this series share a few core game mechanics and these are: random dungeons, turn based dungeon that feel like they are in pseudo real time since if you do an action each opponent gets to do an action, a hunger mechanic(where if your hunger is at 0% you start draining health per turn instead of regenerating health per turn) and finally a death penalty. Each dungeon consists of an invisible square grid players and enemies alike can move up down left right or diagonally, since everything is turn based you can only do one action "per turn" so if its either moving to the next square, attacking whatever is in front of you, using a spell or an ability, equipping/un-equipping an item, and so forth once you do your action the enemies get a turn to do their move however everything happens seamlessly hence why I said it feel like a pseudo real time since there is no real delay. 

This iteration of a mystery dungeon game stays to the roots in terms of gameplay and adds some new features to suit the Pokemon franchise and adds some new tech thanks to the capabilities of the DS. A day in this Pokemon adventure primarily consists of watching a small roll call cutscene picking out a jobs from the job wall (maximum of 8 jobs can be active at a time), doing whatever jobs you picked out to do at a given location, get rewarded if you complete your job watch a cutscene of pokemon eating a meal and then go to sleep where afterward you can save your game. A couple of times throughout the game you will be forced to do some story sequences but most of them just require you to go to a specific dungeon floor and face a specific boss. A couple of these dungeons are multi-area or multi-tier where you have a floor that's dedicated to saving or saving and giving you access to your storage if you need to put some items in or take some items out.

As I stated this mystery dungeon game stays to it's gameplay roots and adds some variation to make it fit with the Pokemon license and the DS hardware. In this mystery dungeon your character is essentially chosen through a kid friendly personality quiz and doing some sequences of pressing a finger on the touch screen the Pokemon is chosen by the results of the quiz and then the pokemon gets revealed, if you don't like what the game chose for you the game gives you an option to take the test again to see if you get a Pokemon that suits you better once you have chosen your pokemon you get to chose a a secondary Pokemon that will act as your partner (I personally got Chimchar and Pikachu as my partner). A party can include up to 4 pokemon at a given time but sometimes at some story sequences your limited to yourself and a partner, to get more Pokemon in your team to recruit a Pokemon you simply defeat them and sometimes they want to join your party and you chose to let the Pokemon go or allow it to be in your party if you reached the limit of 4 pokemon already in the party and want it to be in your lineup, it will go to town instead. Staying true to the traditional pokemon games there is the same exact move system with PP points, the moves stay true when you compare it to a Pokemon game but there are some differences with some moves.  Death works a little different here if either you or your primary partner's health reaches 0 you die and are quickly teleported out of the dungeon and get hit by the death penalty which is you half of your items and gold that you are carrying. When you "die" you are given an option to be rescued and continue where you left off where you "died" and rescuing works either two ways  option 1) Post a rescue request on Nintendo Wifi where someone can accept the request and attempt to rescue your team 2) give a friend who has either version of the game a 32 character password and initiate a rescue that way, in the manual it tells you that you can also send a rescue request from the game to someones cellphone or email but I never got to test this so I don't know how it really works. If a rescue has successfully been completed it's like you have been revived and dodged the death penalty bullet.

On the technical side this game isn't really impressive save for some few beautiful cutscenes. The presentation feels like it was a early DS game or a GBA game, the top screen gives you an option to display the game's control configuration, a map (it shifts a semi transparent map from the bottom screen to the top screen to reduce clutter), a HP status screen of your whole party. So basically the top screen is essentially treated as a supplementary information screen while all the action happens on the bottom screen. While the whole game can be played with the stylus and touch screen it's really easier just to use the Dpad and buttons. The wifi in addition to rescues you can post wonder mails, the wonder mail basically gives a team more jobs and when they are completed it gives the player access to some of the rarer items and/or Pokemon in the game.

Pros/Cons (+ denotes pro  - denotes con)

+ Stays true to the Mystery Dungeon core gameplay
+ Addicting game play
+ A good starter game for the Mystery Dungeon series because of the easier difficulty and Pokemon brand recognition

- Dated graphics
- Gameplay mechanics of the mystery dungeon series can feel dated to today's standards
- Compared to other Mystery dungeon games this one feels shallow     
- Sometimes cheap deaths may occur so luck is a factor

Score breakdown:

Graphics - C
Nothing spectacular looks like its a GBA game, there are some beautiful cutscenes with awesome 2D sprites but those are not very common. The top screen functions as a information screen and it's very basic.

Sound - C
Nothing special about it. Very dated and simple sound effects, there are some nice upbeat themes in the game but it's all very forgetful. 

Controls: C

The game can be controlled by the touch screen but its clunky and counter intuitive, stick with the dpad and buttons it works fine.

Gameplay: C

Stays true to the roots of the Mystery Dungeon gameplay and borrows some mechanics of traditional Pokemon game and then modifies it to fit into a Mystery Dungeon game the end result is good and the game doesn't feel broken however it feels a little shallow when compared to other mystery dungeon games. The party AI is horrible though.

Lastability: B

The main story will last you about 15 - 20 hours once your finished with the story your allowed to dig deeper into the game and discover more secrets which increases the lastability of the game.

Final Score C

The game functions well as a Mystery Dungeon game it's a little shallow when compared to other games in the genre however the game is a little less frustrating than other Mystery Dungeon games thanks to a reduction of difficulty and having a easier to manage death penalty.

Bottom Line: If your interested in Pokemon and mystery dungeon games or dungeon crawlers give this a shot. While it may be shallow and simpler compared to other mystery dungeon games it's still a solid game nothing spectacular but the gameplay can be addicting. The game can last a long time if the gameplay sticks with you but if your not sure definitely rent this before you buy it.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2008, 12:21:49 PM by Flames_of_chaos »
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Offline Flames_of_chaos

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Re: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Explorers of Darkness
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2008, 03:41:13 AM »
I enjoy writing these reviews so much but I don't know what I should review next, so I put up a poll(I know, I know) of potential games that I should review next so I want to put the ball in your court and help me pick out what I should review!
« Last Edit: July 28, 2008, 03:43:42 AM by Flames_of_chaos »
PM me for DS and Wii game friend codes
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Offline Caliban

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Re: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Explorers of Darkness
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2008, 10:23:27 AM »
I picked Soul Bubbles because from what I've seen it looks interesting.

Offline Flames_of_chaos

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Re: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Explorers of Darkness
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2008, 02:09:35 PM »
Just to keep things interesting the next review is going to feature a review system thought up by Mr. Jack and me and integrate it into the traditional NWR review system to test out something. The winner of this poll is going to be reviewed obviously, 2nd place will be on the next poll as a possible option next review poll and I'll automatically put a vote into it. The next poll will also feature random games from the following platforms: Wii, Wiiwave, VC(domestic or import titles in N.America), DS, Xbox 360, XBLA, PS3, PSN, PSP.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2008, 02:11:42 PM by Flames_of_chaos »
PM me for DS and Wii game friend codes
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Offline Flames_of_chaos

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Re: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Explorers of Darkness
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2008, 02:33:08 AM »
It's a tie so Soul Bubbles is up next then We Love Golf
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Re: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Explorers of Darkness
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2008, 03:28:51 AM »
Cheap deaths are annoying, but what frustrates me the most is the fragility of your clients.  One or two hits from some Raticate that appeared out of nowhere and it's back to floor 1.  What ticked me off the most, though, is that I wasn't allowed to start off as a Cubone this time out, so I had to take the personality quiz at least a dozen times to manipulate the game into giving me a Munchlax instead.
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Offline Flames_of_chaos

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Re: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Explorers of Darkness
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2008, 12:22:27 PM »
I changed it to the grade letter system.
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Offline yoshi1001

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Re: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Explorers of Darkness
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2008, 08:29:34 PM »
They could probably tweak it a little so that the levels were still random but within certain parameters. The worst part is where Palkia kidnaps you and you're stuck until you grind your way out.
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