I never realized how beloved the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon spin-offs were until the release
of Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon.
There was so much excitement for it that I tried a demo for myself...and was promptly
mystified as nothing really clicked for me.
But with how much the fans care about the series, I decided to give it one more try
with the remake of the original game, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX.
Would it be successful in changing my mind?
Well, let’s take a look.
The game begins with you realizing that you’ve turned into a Pokémon, with the type being
based on a brief personality test you took beforehand, though you can change it if you’re
unhappy with the results.
You’ll then meet another Pokémon who becomes your partner and together you decide to form
a rescue team to help other Pokémon.
Rescue Teams specialize in diving into dungeons in order to save lost Pokémon, reunite friends,
or find missing items.
Unfortunately strange earthquakes have been happening that have made many Pokémon run
So it’s up to you to rescue the Pokémon in danger, find out what’s causing the disasters,
and discover just why you became a Pokémon.
It’s a simple story that sets out to give more personality to Pokémon though it does
skew young in how events play out.
I was never surprised by what was happening and figured out many of the twists early on.
Rescue Team DX pushes the familiar themes of friendship, faith, and how working together
is truly the way forward.
It’s hokey at times, but it’s so earnest that I still ended up enjoying it.
But how does it actually play?
Well, for those who aren’t aware, Mystery Dungeon is a spin-off that sees a team of
Pokémon explore randomly generated areas in search of treasure while fending off enemies
that roam the floor.
The key idea is that whenever you take an action so do the enemies on the map.
So if you move and an enemy is nearby, that’s an opportunity for them to attack.
All of the wild Pokémon are clearly marked on a mini-map along with the treasure, but
the stairs to the next floor of the dungeon are hidden.
It’s up to the player to travel the rooms, find the stairs, and eventually reach the
end of the dungeon.
It sounds simple, but there’s way more to it.
For one, like the main series, each Pokémon only has access to 4 moves, each with a limited
number of uses.
There’s no standard attack to conserve them either.
If you want to fight another Pokémon, you’ll need to use one of those moves.
By pushing the A button, the move best suited to attack the Pokémon you’re fighting is
automatically chosen, but if you want to be more tactical or conserve certain abilities,
players can choose whichever move they want.
However positioning and the direction your Pokémon is facing is key as well.
Moves are close or long range, so knowing what they’re capable of is paramount.
And if you’re facing the wrong way, well they just won’t land at all.
In addition, the more a certain move is used, the more potent it will become and this is
shared across every Pokémon who uses that move.
So if Quick Attack is at Level 3 for my Rattata, it’ll also be that level for my Absol.
It’s entirely based on the move itself.
The system is clever in how it encourages using every move at your disposal.
Sure you could focus on one, but as type advantages and disadvantages come into play, you want
to have a variety of options to handle the wide array of Pokémon in a dungeon.
Finally, it’s possible to Link two moves together so that when one is used, so is the
other in succession.
While I didn’t use the option much, I did find it to be a great pairing with status
Powering up your Attack stat before unleashing a physical attack could devastate some opponents.
Of course, if you do Link your moves not only will the PP of both drain at the same time,
forcing you to use more items, but your Pokémon will get hungry quicker, which is basically
a stamina meter that depletes as you explore the dungeon.
If it reaches zero then they’ll take damage with every step so it’s a good idea to bring
And that’s where another important facet of Mystery Dungeon comes in.
Resource management is vital.
You can only enter with so many healing, throwing, and status items before your inventory is
filled, and you’ll want to leave space open so you can collect new items as well.
It’s a balance of figuring out your play style and preparing for the worst case scenario.
By the end of the game, I had the amount of each item I needed and wanted well worked
out, but it’s also possible to increase your inventory space which we’ll get to
in due time.
The final element of the dungeons are the Pokémon you fight.
After defeating a Pokémon, they may decide to join your rescue team and will travel alongside
you until they’re defeated or the dungeon ends.
If you own a camp that they can stay at, they will join your team.
Otherwise, they’ll hand over some extra money and you’ll have to try again.
There are some Pokémon that are simply knocked out and, if given food, will join your team,
but this is pretty infrequent.
Up to 8 Pokémon can be on your team, two more than the original release, including
the 3 that you enter with.
While it feels great to surround bosses with this huge team and just lay into them, it
can be a hassle while exploring the dungeons.
There were many times when I was forging ahead, creating a snake-like formation, and an enemy
Pokémon attacked the stragglers in the back.
While I can swap control between my main team of three, they often stuck close making it
difficult to go back and save newcomers if necessary.
And if they faint and I have no revival items, then they’re gone for good.
Thankfully, a new option has been introduced to Rescue Team DX.
When a Pokémon is in trouble, one of the other Pokémon on your team can offer to heal
them in your place, slightly decreasing the amount of necessary micromanaging.
There’s also the rescue mechanic for when a player’s team is in trouble.
A game over will result in the loss of all the items and money you had in your inventory
at the time, which can be devastating.
However, you have the chance to rescue that team with another team of your back-up Pokémon,
which then saves the items.
While it’s a blessing that this is an option, getting back through the dungeon with a less
prepared team is certainly tough.
Fortunately, you can rely on friends and other players if you so choose who can take on these
rescue missions for extra rewards.
All these systems come together to make a game that should be tactical and involving
yet I found myself bored through most of Rescue Team DX.
The problem is there’s just not much thought involved, especially in the early game.
Run around the dungeon, grab items, deal with Pokémon along the way, find the stairs and
I rarely looked at what my Pokémon was doing and instead focused on hitting all the locations
on the mini-map.
It’s made even worse when sidequests pop up as you then have to do this over and over
And you will never catch up on sidequests as they come in faster than they can be completed,
which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as they’re also how you increase rescue points.
The more rescue points you have, the more teams you can build, items you can hold, and
Pokémon that will live in your camps.
It’s rewarding to do them, but I was always repeating the same process.
You’re exploring like normal except there might be a specific item to find or Pokémon
to rescue on a certain floor.
It got to the point where I only focused on the areas that had the most sidequests, doing
two run-throughs of those, and then continuing with the story where I usually did the same
Thankfully the game eventually throws some twists into the formula at about the midway
point of the story.
It’s there that I grew a bit more engaged although everything was still repetitious.
I didn’t have to fully pay attention until I reached the penultimate dungeon of the main
Here, it was much longer, much tougher, and I really had to think about whether it was
worth gathering every item on the floor.
Monster Houses were also introduced where hordes of enemies appeared in a room filled
There was stuff happening, but it felt like it was too little, too late.
And a lot of this repetition comes down to the dungeons themselves.
Because they are completely randomized, every visit will have a different layout.
It’s supposed to make returning for sidequests and Pokémon recruitment more varied, but
it just doesn’t work for me.
It made me barely pay attention to the layouts as there was never anything significant to
even look at.
It’s just the same kind of exploration with different window dressing.
The game itself looks nice.
I enjoy the storybook feel of the artstyle and the locations often look gorgeous.
Even certain cutscenes are animated well.
The Pokémon models do display some emotions outside of text bosses but are mostly sedentary
Plus, they can look kinda silly when being pushed in a dungeon.
The music in Rescue Team DX is outstanding.
Nearly every track is a winner, and I found myself excited to listen to each new dungeon
But even an excellent soundtrack couldn’t get me fully invested in the game.
There’s a ton of content here with plenty of dungeons, new Pokémon to recruit, and
the ability to evolve them once the main story is finished.
I never played the original so I don’t know if all of this is worth revisiting as a fan.
However, as a newcomer, I found that if the base gameplay of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon:
Rescue Team DX isn’t grabbing you, then nothing about this will pull you in.
I absolutely can see where someone could have fun with this.
Despite my complaints, there’s a rhythm that certain players will fall into and love.
But if you are like me and fail to click with the gameplay, then the game won’t change
In the end, it leaves me Mixed on the whole thing.
It can be especially challenging in the end, and the story is sweet with its interactions.
But it’s just not for me.
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