As with the main series, the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon franchise has seen its fair share of ups and downs. Envisioning a portion of the Pokemon world free of humans where the creatures run their own society, Mystery Dungeon has offered an alternative to the formulaic main series games. The franchise began in 2005 with the release of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Red Rescue Team and Blue Rescue team for the GameBoy and DS. Now, the franchise has hit the Nintendo Switch with the remake of these original titles.
To the rescue
Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX follows the story of a human transformed into a Pokemon under unknown circumstances. After meeting their partner, the duo form a rescue team to help other Pokemon in peril while simultaneously uncovering the mystery to the protagonist’s past. Rescue Team DX practically follows the story of the original games beat by beat.
The gameplay throughout the Mystery Dungeon franchise has more or less stuck to the status quo. Make your way through a series of procedurally generated dungeons, progressing from floor to floor in order to rescue Pokemon or find lost items. The quality of life in gameplay has been improved thanks to simpler controls and better explanations of mechanics. It’s much quicker to use moves, items, and swap between Pokemon, mine being Torchic.
When first starting a new save file, players take a brief quiz to determine which Pokemon they will play as, if you’re not the biggest fan of your outcome, you can opt to just choose which Pokemon you play as, which is a change from the original game. This choice is simple yet, much needed. It removes the tedious barrier of retaking the quiz and googling the answers until you get to play as your favorite Pokemon.
As you begin to progress through the game and expand your team, players have the ability to build different camps to house their team members. The original Red and Blue Rescue Team allowed for up to four Pokemon in a given party. Rescue Team DX doubles that number, opening the limit up to 8 Pokemon. This helped to alleviate the difficulty in some of the games' harder moments. There are still several story-based missions in which the player and their partner must go alone.
One of the most notable changes in Rescue Team DX are the visual upgrades. Many of the backdrops and locations have been detailed with much softer, almost storybook-like textures and colors. Each of the Pokemon Sprites have also been upgraded to 3D models. This works to make Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX play like a modern title while keeping its retro feel.
A letdown I had while making my way through Rescue Team DX was its failure to truly build on top of the games that came before it. The original Mystery Dungeon games were groundbreaking for the Pokemon franchise, and so much has changed since then. There was an opportunity here to swing for the fences and create a supreme mystery dungeon experience, something really deserving of the “deluxe” subtitle. Adding new Pokemon, putting a spin on the original story, or adding new gameplay features that take advantage of the Switch’s technology could have helped accomplish this.
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon DX retains the franchise's sense of adventure and exploration. The randomly generated dungeons have always made sure that each run is different from the last. The game suffers from difficulty spikes here and there, with dungeon enemies taking jumps in power levels between dungeons.
One of my favorite aspects of the Mystery Dungeon series was its boss fights. Loading up on the right items and properly gameplanning to take down a foe that is far more powerful has always felt like a much more challenging and rewarding task than those seen in most main series Pokemon titles. This remains true in Rescue Team DX. I quite enjoyed the challenge of moving around my roster and stocking up on items before heading into battle.
Calling it a day
As a remake, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon DX succeeds in recapturing the essence of the originals. I still felt a sense of urgency and stress when I was on the final floors of the Sky Tower trying to get to Rayquaza. There are also a few quality of life improvements along with new character sprites and a cell-shaded art style. Despite some balancing issues and a lack of ambition, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon DX still delivers the emotion and challenge that fans new and old will appreciate.
This review is based on a digital download code provided by the developer. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX is available now on physical and digital storefronts for $59.99.
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX
- Quality of life improvements and changes
- Completely redesigned Pokemon sprites
- New cell-shaded art style
- Retains emotion and sense of adventure
- Difficulty spikes
- Lack of ambition