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Pokemon Mystery Dungeon DX Review – The Van Gogh of Pokemon?

pokemon mystery dungeon dx score

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon DX originally released in March 2020, so 1000 years ago. Before the world burnt down. It is a spin off of the Pokemon series, as a dungeon crawler where you are the Pokemon. This is obviously quite a large departure from the mainline series of games. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon DX is actually a remake of the original Mystery Dungeon games from 2005. Released as a single remake instead of the Red Rescue Team and Blue Rescue Team as it originally did.

I meant to buy and play it upon release and just missed it. Better late than never I guess, so here’s my review of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon DX.

Gameplay? 8/10 – Solid dungeon crawling-lite gameplay. Cute Pokemon skin with a few niggles

Dungeons

You’ll be spending the majority of your time in the many dungeons of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon DX. I mean, it’s in the title really. This is a dungeon crawler, with a Pokemon skin.

Each dungeon has multiple floors, and each floor is split into procedurally generated rooms. In these rooms you’ll find items, Pokemon, traps, and stairs. Taking the stairs will take you to the next floor. Depending on the dungeon you may find one of two things towards the end. Either a safe spot to stop and take a breath, where you’ll find a Kangaskhan statue for storage.

pokemon mystery dungeon dx dungeons

Then a few more floors after this respite you may come across a bit ol’ bossy. Typically a Legendary Pokemon that is much stronger and larger than you and your team. Fighting them can be no joke. Some planning on moves, team members, and items can be crucial. Sometimes, it’s just not enough, you’ll still all faint. If that happens, you will be taken back to that respite floor as it’s now your checkpoint. This way you can attempt the boss again. 

For me, Moltres was the hardest. I died like 4 times to the bloody bird. Luckily, I had that checkpoint so I could keep trying, otherwise it would have taken much more actual time to win that damn fight.

There are a few other surprises in the dungeons like a Kecleon shop and my favourite monster houses. Monster houses are rooms in a dungeon filled with loot, only when you step in it… so do a dozen or so enemy Pokemon. It’s high risk, high reward in a dungeon.

The only to watch out for is your stomach. As you move and fight in a dungeon it goes down. Reaching zero stomach means every step takes your HP.

pokemon mystery dungeon dx top down

Rescue Team

Your Rescue Team is your partnership with other Pokemon, where you agree to help others. For me, Mudkip, I partnered with Cyndaquil and so we both agreed to help. You take on jobs, either from your mailbox or at the Pelipper post office. Taking journeys into the dungeons over and over to help different Pokemon.

From just finding them and sending them home, to finding their items, and escorting some to their friends, each will require you to go to a different floor of a specific dungeon. You can take on and complete multiple jobs at once, which is handy. Completing them will get you a bunch of rewards. For example you can get different items, like stat boosting items or apples, or sellable ribbons. Sometimes, the client will even ask to join your rescue team.

Then you will also get rescue points. These are tracked and determine when you rank up your team. Each job is given a rank, from F upwards. Each rank of the job will bring with it the potential for more rescue points.

When you get enough points, your team will rank up, from Bronze to Silver for example. There are some benefits but nothing overly impressive. Mostly, more room in your toolbox (your carrying capacity) and the amount of Pokemon in each friend camp.

pokemon mystery dungeon dx rescue team

I got up to Platinum before I beat the story, and this was without doing too much grinding. There are still a great many ranks for me to unlock yet though.

Town

The Town, along with your house, and the Pelipper post office encompass your hub area. You will find yourself going through the town pretty much everytime you come back from a dungeon.

The Kecleon shop actually has 2 inventories. The first is a regular item store, with the possibility for apples, pebbles, and orbs for example. The second is far more useful in my opinion, the TM shop. Here you can buy a bunch of powerful moves for you and your team. This is pretty essential as the level up movesets aren’t typically great. The inventory changes everyday so visit often. I for one bought a bunch, like Scald and Blizzard for Mudkip, and then Fireblast and Wild Charge for Cyndaquil.

Then you have the bank and item storage, run by Persian and Kangaskhan respectively. This allows you to store your money and items, so you don’t lose them after failing in a dungeon.

pokemon mystery dungeon dx home

Then there’s Wigglytuff, here you can buy different friend areas. These are the areas for you to let other Pokemon that join your team live. Whilst adventuring, a Pokemon may take a liking to you and ask to join your team. If they make it to the end, or until you are teleported out, they can join your team. Only if you have the correct friend area though. Then you can bring them on adventures with you any time.

Gulpin runs the linkshop, here you can link 2 of your moves so that they are both used together. Want to shoot some water and some ice at an enemy at the same time? Well you can.

The Pelipper post office has a bulletin board for many jobs that will take you into a dungeon. You’ll be here a lot.

Postgame

Once you’ve finished the story a bunch of new things open up. Not least of all is the ability to evolve all of your Pokemon, including yourself. So I was able to become a majestic team of Swampert and Typhlosion. This also adds the need to collect Evolution Crystals for certain Pokemon. This replaces the evolution stones, or other items, and criteria. This can be collected like any other item after the story is finished. Through a dungeon or as job rewards for example.

pokemon mystery dungeon dx evolution

Next is a whole hecka lot of extra dungeons. These, as you may work out from seeing them being shown, are for Legendaries and the like. There sure are a lot of extra Legendaries and new dungeons to explore.

Problems

There aren’t too many issues with Pokemon Mystery Dungeon DX, especially after the quality of life improvements. There are just a few areas that are still a little rough, although nothing that is exactly game breaking mind you.

The first is that you can’t skip through certain things. Like when you come back from a dungeon after like 10 jobs. You have to go through the dialogue with the client, reward, and then the rescue points animations for all 10. At first this isn’t an issue, but when you’ve been grinding jobs for an hour you really notice it. Simply adding a skip button and just giving you it all at once at the end would be much preferred.

Next, I’m not really a fan of the fact that you can’t evolve until after the game. This is a staple of the Mystery Dungeon series and I’m less of a fan. One because you’re weaker, even if only slightly. The second is that it’s ridiculous, a Mudkip and Cyndaquil beat every legendary Pokemon. Yeah OK.

pokemon mystery dungeon dx choice

This is also minor but it felt like both the friendly AI in a dungeon was worse. As well as your stomach emptied quicker. It made some of the longer dungeons and job hunting a little less streamlined. That could just be my bad memory though, I am old at this point.

Visuals? 10/10 – Flawless visual presentation. The best looking Pokemon game made.

This is going to be a more subjective opinion than is often the case with other reviews. The main reason being that the whole game is highly stylised. Not a Persona 5 kind of way, more a Van Gogh vs Picasso way. Pretty much everything in Pokemon Mystery Dungeon DX is as if from a painting. A painting using nothing but water colours and some artistic liberties.

My personal opinion of this is that I love it. It is potentially my favourite thing about the game and remake. Everything is so vibrant, alive, and somewhat abstracted but only slightly. I don’t have much of an eye for art, unless it involves cute little animals shooting boiling water from their mouths. This is that.

It might, over all, be my favourite art style and looking Pokemon game ever. If they remade other spinoffs, like other Mystery Dungeons and the like, this is the exact style I want, nay need them to use.

pokemon mystery dungeon dx boop

Audio? 10/10 – Your standard catchy tune for the cute little creatures.

Frankly speaking, unless there’s an audio bug, Pokemon games always sound amazing. I don’t think there are ever any tracks that rival my own top gaming songs but they’re cute and memorable.

Same can be said for Pokemon Mystery Dungeon DX, it’s just filled with distinct and cute songs. There are plenty of well mixed audio queues and things too.

It is, at the end of the day, what you want, need, and expect from a Pokemon game. As an avid fan of everything Pokemon, that means it scratches all of my itches.

There aren’t any tracks that I dislike, get bored of, or hate. It was perfect for what I was doing, how I was doing it, and what I wanted.

pokemon mystery dungeon dx stomach

Story? 8/10 – A bit more effort for the setup and the story, still falls slightly short though

So the story. I’ll be the first to say that in a lot of Pokemon games there basically isn’t one. Often, the story or writing are absolutely the weakest parts of any game. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon DX, even when it was first released in 2005, at least tries.

The gist is this. There’s seemingly an alternate world where only Pokemon live, they know of humans and have legends involving them but they’re not around. So Pokemon are the dominant “species”, building towns, buildings, and banks and things.

You were once a human but have woken up in this world as a Pokemon. For my playthrough I was a Mudkip. Everyone loves Mudkip. Along comes your partner to be, this is another Pokemon that you chose, my choice was Cyndaquil. You can find all the choices here.

There’s some exposition, then a Caterpie rescue, and then Cyndaquil asks you to make a team together. Not just any old team, a Rescue Team. A Rescue Team is any Pokemon that will travel the world, listening to the troubles of Pokemon and helping them. It’s basically this world’s version of an adventurer’s guild.

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You find out that the world’s balance has been thrown off and more Pokemon are endangered. It’s basically up to Cyndaquil and Mudkip to find the problem and try to solve it.

It’s not a masterpiece or the next Shakespeare but it is/was new and different. It’s a decent set up and I think there are enough characters and twists that it’s enjoyable. It’s just a cute little story that explains why you’re a Pokemon and gets you to each dungeon.

Acting? 9/10 – No actual dialogue in the game, an average of the other scores here.

Writing? 7/10 – Weakest part of the whole game. It’s true to the original but improvements were made since

Easily the weakest area of the whole game, similar to the story for losing a few points. The reason I rate this lower is that the story makes more sense in areas than the writing would suggest.

Overall, the writing is pretty good. Admittedly, it might just be good for a Pokemon game. Pokemon isn’t known for particularly thought-provoking storylines, or deep character arcs. They’re not Cyberpunk 2077 or The Last of Us or anything. However occasionally they do go just a little bit further.

pokemon mystery dungeon dx Rayray

Originally, this was one of the Pokemon games that did go a little further. It’s still missing a lot of the world building, meaningful villains, and things that came in later games. It’s a decent enough start though. 

Performance? 10/10 – As you might expect from a Nintendo IP, absolutely perfect

I have said this, honestly way too much, but first party stuffs for Nintendo are just perfect. They honestly do such a good job making things perfectly stable the whole time. I get that there’s not actually that much going on at any given moment. I mean there’s the town and then just a single floor of a dungeon at a time. It’s just nice that the load times, the amount of movement, and things going on are improved.

I had zero drops, no stutters, basically just nothing bad or wrong the whole time. I played the game in handheld mode basically the whole time and it was just perfect.

Fun Factor? 10/10 – Absolutely fun as hell. No question. Could not put it down.

Surprisingly, I found Pokemon Mystery Dungeon DX incredibly fun. As someone who pretty universally doesn’t like dungeon crawlers, somehow this game makes it work. I wonder if it’s one of those mind control things. By adding in Pokemon, I convince myself that I like it? That would be funny.

pokemon mystery dungeon dx zapdos

Anyway, I think because it’s a pretty stripped down dungeon crawler and yes because there’s Pokemon, it works for me. I just kept taking more and more jobs to go back to the same dungeon again. Honestly, there was only one reason I went to the final dungeon and finished the story. That was because I didn’t have many jobs for a tougher dungeon. I thought I would die in the final one then I’d come back to more jobs to take. I just happened to be strong enough to beat the final boss on my first try.

It’s kind of mindless and, as all dungeon crawlers are, repetitive but I love it. Especially after the main story, being able to go back as a Swampert is awesome. Then the boss fights are pretty challenging but fun too. You want to keep trying and to finally beat them. They give you a real sense of achievement. Again this might be the Pokemon effect but I don’t mind.

Every moment of the story, dungeon crawling, boss fighting, and grinding just feels good. That, to me, makes this an incredibly fun game. It’s cute, silly, gorgeous, challenging, and there’s a lot of it.

Value? 10/10 – Such unbelievable value. Plenty of playtime, replayability, cheap, and postgame content

For me, Pokemon games almost universally have high value. They’re pretty much always fun, have a ton of replayability, and it’s Pokemon yano? Pokemon Mystery Dungeon DX is no different in this.

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It can currently be found online for between £30 to £40, which is not a bad price. It is a remake, which alot of people don’t value as highly. It is a remake of a 2005 DS game though so it’s definitely been a good while. There was also clearly a hell of a lot of work done to bring it up to a pretty high standard.

Then there’s the play time, it took me around 28 hours to get through the main story. That’s nothing to sniff at right there already. Then you have quite a lot of postgame content. Coming in the form of gaining evolution, new dungeons and bosses, and ranking your team up, you could easily spend double that amount of time, just getting and doing everything.

Then, my personal favourite feature of basically every Pokemon game, the replayability. In PoPokemon Mystery Dungeon DX there is arguably less than a mainline title, but still plenty. You can pick from a decently sized list of starters, along with an opposing partner Pokemon. So choosing a different starter and partner can add multiple playthroughs, each with different strengths and difficulty spikes.

There’s just a lot of time spent having a lot of fun in Pokemon Mystery Dungeon DX.

How Much Did The Reviewer Enjoy It? 10/10 – One of the best experiences both on the Switch and for Pokemon in general. I want more remakes for the series like this. Give. It. To. Me.

Maybe I’m already biased when it comes to Pokemon but honestly, I don’t care. I love Pokemon and Pokemon Mystery Dungeon DX is an absolute blast. With the new art style and the big jump to the Switch, the game really pops. 

pokemon mystery dungeon dx articuno

I think I made many things clear above that I like about this game. It’s a phenomenal looking Pokemon game, the music is up to par, and it’s surprisingly fun. I don’t think that there is any wonder that I would say I enjoyed it immensely.

Other than the story/writing being a little weak, and some quality of life changes still missing. I have no complaints. It actually makes me more hopeful for the future of Pokemon spin offs. I think such an incredible job was done here that it would be ludicrous for them to not do more. Be that more of the Mystery Dungeon games getting such love, care, and attention or other series. *cough cough* Colosseum and Gale of Darkness *cough cough*.

It’s one of the best looking, simple, fun, enjoyable, and grand Pokemon experiences. It tops most other Pokemon games quite easily and I’m glad. More people need to play this if they missed it on the DS in 2005.

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