Author Topic: Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon (3DS) Review  (Read 3581 times)

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Offline Webmalfunction

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Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon (3DS) Review
« on: December 02, 2015, 03:32:09 AM »

Gotta quest 'em all!

After 2013 brought a game featuring too few Pokémon, simplified mechanics, and an overall package widely seen as the weakest in the series, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon is back with a vengeance. It’s called Super Mystery Dungeon, features over 700 Pokémon (all of those existing up through Hoopa), has a huge story, tons of dungeons, and tries to address every concern with the aforementioned Gates to Infinity. But, despite all that, and despite some really impressive gameplay enhancements, it somehow comes out as the inferior game.

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon is a Spike Chunsoft roguelike spin-off in which you play as a human transformed into a Pokémon, and, with a party of up to three Pokémon, have to find out why you became a Pokémon and progress through the narrative. You go in dungeons in that Shiren the Wanderer style, go through procedurally generated floors, and battle Pokémon using the Pokémon moves, stats, experience, and abilities you’re used to. If you’ve played one of these before, there’s not much you need to know other than the core gameplay beats.

The largest difference to that core gameplay comes in the Pokémon recruiting. In past games, should you defeat a Pokémon in battle, it may choose to join you as a team member in future battles that you can select from an ever-growing roster. In that way, it felt like you were “catching” them, and felt like a strong analog for one of the best parts of Pokémon. In this new game, you can no longer do that. Instead, you recruit Pokémon by doing quests for them.

If Mankey gives you a quest to get to a certain floor and rescue a Pokémon, and you do the quest, you get to use Mankey from now on. What’s more, you aren’t just getting level-appropriate Pokémon anymore. In the first five hours, I did a few easy quests and got a Salamence, Dragonite, Alakazam, and Tyranitar over level 50. 10 hours in, my Snivy and Riolu that I was given at the beginning of the game were still under level 20.

In that way, the pacing in the game is just bizarre. The game gives some harder dungeons in its four-hour tutorial section, allows you to start recruiting and using Pokémon significantly above your current level right after, becomes extremely easy as a result, and then throws some disproportionally hard story missions in your way sprinkled throughout the 20+ hour story. It’s not front-loaded or back-loaded difficulty. Unless you restrict yourself to playing with level-appropriate Pokémon recruits, there is absolutely zero sense of difficulty progression.

Beyond that, the story, which is usually one of the strongest characteristics in a Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game, just doesn’t deliver. There are some of those staple, emotionally resonant moments later on in the plot, but the first 60% of the game, which involves you going to school and trying to join the Pokémon Expedition Society, has nothing to say and feels all too similar to what came before. You’re a human, you need to find out how and why you became a Pokémon, and there’s some antagonistic force. It’s just not as good as Gates to Infinity, which, despite its weaknesses, has much more personality to its characters and story.

It doesn’t feel good to say any of this either, because as a game, Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon is probably the most ambitious one in the series. Having representation of over 700 Pokémon is no small feat. The game brings back hunger entirely (a meter that decreases over time that has to be filled by eating food), one of the most noted omissions in the previous game. Super Mystery Dungeon also introduces both Mega Evolution and Awakening in a limited capacity (the latter of which being a power boost for Pokémon who can’t Mega Evolve), and brings Looplets into the fold, equipment that allow you to get various temporary power boosts by picking up and equipping certain items in dungeons.

The quests have also been streamlined in a positive way, allowing you to go into a menu, pick your quests on a large globe (fitting considering the massive number of dungeons in the game), and unlock other quests based on what quests you choose to beat. It’s the easiest game in the series to get into, and it’s the freshest this series has ever felt. And beating those super-hard dungeons later on does, in fact, feel just as good as it always has. It is Pokémon Mystery Dungeon after all, and the core is still good.

But still, the game’s flaws feel just as critical as the ones in Gates to Infinity – if not worse. Tying Pokémon recruitment to something that isn’t as satisfying as the original capture analog, and giving so many high-level ones early, breaks progression, devalues the Pokémon you do manage to get, and kills some of the urge to explore that earlier games offer in spades. The story is perhaps the weakest yet, and more than that, it takes too long to get into. And oh yeah, I need to say this again: the tutorial section is multiple hours long.

All of the pieces are in place for this to be the best Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game ever, and for plenty, it just might be. It’s ambitious, has a number of new mechanics, and tries to address the major criticisms of its predecessor while being as fun as ever. But when all of its parts come together, it feels weird and clumsy. It takes out one of the best parts of the series, doesn’t quite deliver on others, and compromises its difficulty progression. The best things about it are, for better or worse, the things it has been doing well since the Game Boy Advance.

Offline Phil

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Re: Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon (3DS) Review
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2015, 04:38:19 PM »
I have this as an Xmas present. I really enjoyed my first foray with the series, Gates to Infinity, so I'm sure I'll enjoy this one, too.
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Offline yoshi1001

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Re: Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon (3DS) Review
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2015, 08:31:38 PM »
I actually vastly prefer the connection mechanic to randomly getting asked by Pokemon you just defeated-it feels less obtrusive to me, and it's nice having upfront criteria for getting new party members. I prefer the random way the main games do it for those, but for Mystery Dungeon, I'm fine with the system here.
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Offline Boonlay

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Re: Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon (3DS) Review
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2015, 05:39:18 PM »
"Weak Story"? Really? I found it the best story out of all of the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games, right besides explorers of sky.

Offline pokepal148

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Re: Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon (3DS) Review
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2015, 01:41:32 PM »
So basically everyone needs to gift a copy to James Jones for Christmas right? Sounds fun to me.

Offline literoticastory

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Re: Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon (3DS) Review
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