The Introduction…

Before I begin with my write up on Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team and Blue Rescue Team, I want to start off with an explanation on what the fan term “Generation” is in the Pokémon franchise. To put it in simple terms, the start of a Generation is when new Pokémon, a new region, typings, moves and items are introduced all at once.

Example: fans consider Red and Blue the first generation for introducing the original 151 monsters, Kanto and practically everything else. Gold and Silver are in the second Generation and Ruby and Sapphire kicks off the third Generation, bringing the total of Pokémon to 386.

Now with that out of the way, let’s talk about the spinoffs of Generation III! But why you ask? For those who don’t know, the wait for Diamond and Pearl (Generation IV) was a long one due to delays and Game Freak’s difficulty transitioning to the Nintendo DS. In the meantime, a boatload of Pokémon spinoffs released during the wait and I feel the need to talk about them as some are great (plus you can feel the agony of the wait as well).

Let’s set it off with my favorite of the Generation III spinoffs!

I remember reading about the release of this game from a magazine at my local library, and I was ecstatic. A world filled with talking Pokémon? That was something I had only seen with Digimon… “This was a game-changer,” I thought. My child-self counted down the game’s release date, and I was not at all disappointed once I had finally got around to playing… the DS version, Blue Rescue Team!

For the first time, the developers over at Spike Chunsoft split a Pokémon game between two handheld systems: Red on Gameboy Advanced and Blue on the Nintendo DS. There are barely any differences besides the DS version taking advantage of its two screens (maps and stats can be displayed on the top screen) and the system’s more modern (at the time) sound chip which made music considerably better. Here’s a comparison:

First, the GBA version of an area called “Tiny Woods”.

Here’s that same area on the DS version.

Notice the difference? While not a huge deal breaker for some, having a higher quality of music, especially for a game as atmospheric as this one, is a huge selling point to me. Even as a child.

The Story…

After completing a personality quiz, Mystery Dungeon begins with the player, a human, waking up in the middle of nowhere and noticing that they’ve transformed into a Pokémon based on the results of said quiz. Dazed and confused after a talk with a nearby and friendly Pokémon, the two quickly put aside your concerns and offer to help a small Caterpie who had found himself lost.

Afterward, that friendly Pokémon from earlier invites the player to form a Rescue Team to help other Pokémon who may find themselves in trouble. In this world of Pokémon, natural disasters have been occurring and the Pokémon don’t know why. Pokémon form Rescue Teams to help others and solve the mystery of what’s happening to their world. The player agrees to help and the adventure to help save the world begins.

Without giving away spoilers, the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon franchise is known for its engaging stories and well-rounded characters something that is debatably not found in the main series games. Seriously, I’ve played each one of these games multiple times because the stories were so good. Again, I don’t want to give anything away, but please do not overlook these game’s plots.

The Gameplay…

Now here’s the real meat and potatoes of the game. The make it or break it for newcomers of the series. The core gameplay loop.

During the story, the player’s rescue team will take on a variety of missions at a bulletin board. Missions can include rescuing Pokémon, delivering items, and escorting clients. If the player successfully completes a job, they receive a reward, and Rescue Points, which increase a team’s rank.

Each mission takes place within a dungeon which layout will always be randomized each time players visit. Within each dungeon, there are wild Pokémon standing in the player’s way and the way to handle them is by engaging each one in battle. Within each dungeon, every move is turn-based. Every step taken, every item and attack used is counted as a single turn by players and enemies. Like the main games, Pokémon fight using the four moves, but unlike those games, Pokémon now have a standard, neutral attack with the press of the ‘A button’. There are other ways to fight too such as using projectiles, seeds, and orbs found on the ground or bought from in-game stores. Keep in mind, with each action, the player’s main Pokémon gets hungry and must eat. To prevent them from fainting and getting a game over, monitor the hunger meter on the game’s pause menu and feed them apples and other items found throughout the game.

Did you get all that? Mystery Dungeon games can be especially challenging if players don’t get the hang of its mechanics leading to a huge turnoff for some people. However, once mastered, Mystery Dungeon can be a fun experience that rewards players the further they’re willing to push themselves.

Conclusion…

Though Pokemon Mystery Dungeon has a bit of a steep learning curve, I believe children and adults alike can enjoy this game. The gameplay, once mastered, can be a fun experience, and the story is sublime. I will cover the rest of the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, but if you have a DS or a 3DS, do not pass this game up.

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