Review – Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX
It has been nearly 15 years since the release of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red and Blue Rescue Team and nearly 5 years since the last installment of the series, Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon. Seeing as the Nintendo Switch has just celebrated its 3rd birthday, it’s about time it also got a little bit of love with, what I have always felt is, an underappreciated series. For those unaware, the Mystery Dungeon series is essentially a dungeon crawler, but every time you enter one, the layout of said dungeon changes. Essentially like a rogue-like, but without the permadeath. Now, we have finally been graced with Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX, a complete remake of the original two games, Red and Blue Rescue Team.
The first bonus that this game gets is the fact it has a demo with progress that transfers over when you choose to get the full product. For anyone who watched the Nintendo Direct when the game was announced, and didn’t forget about it because it was massively overshadowed by the Pokémon Sword and Shield DLC announcement, the demo has been available for a month or so already. The beginning of the game is your basic tutorial stuff, as per the usual, and with this being meant to be a children’s game, there is a bit more hand holding than I would have generally liked. The demo itself will take you through the basic stuff: you’ll answer a personality quiz to determine what Pokémon you are, and your nature. Nature in Pokémon has an effect on your stats, so if you’re looking for the “perfect” build, this is something you may want to look up.
Now comes the first change from the original games. If you’re unhappy with the Pokémon you’re given, you can choose them for yourself, but you risk being given a random nature that goes against your strategy. Honestly, it’s probably best for you to take whoever the game gives you on your first playthrough; it was your personality quiz after all. After deciding who you’re going to play as, you’ll have the option to pick what Pokémon will be your partner. The starters and partners available are the starters from Generations I, II and III, as well as a few others, like Pikachu and Eevee. Now remember, the original games came out alongside Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, so most of the Pokémon in the game are only up to gen III as it is. Although, the Pokédex from Generation III had less than 400 Pokémon available, while Rescue Team DX has a total collection of 500, with the possibility of it being expanded in the near future. Newer moves, like the Fairy-type Dazzling Gleam, are present in here as well.
The graphics from the original games have received a complete overhaul, as to be expected. Instead of pixel art graphics, Rescue Team DX actually opts for a watercolour painting style. The watercolour does wonders for the game: it’s beautiful to look at and it makes Pokémon like Gengar appear even more ghastly, no pun intended.
You’ll work your way through a few dungeons, watch a few cutscenes and get to meet some other rescue teams, like Team Meanie, run by the aforementioned Gengar. Honestly, Team Meanie is one my favorite things in this entire game, simply because the animation of Ekans running away is absolutely hilarious. Soon, much like Diglett, you’ll find your feet inside some dungeons, but unlike him, if you’re playing the demo you won’t be able to progress further. The demo ends as soon as the first rescuing mission begins: saving Diglett from Skarmory on Mt. Steel.
After a few more dungeons, the real fun will truly begin, as you’ll be introduced to Wigglytuff’s camps. A place for Pokémon you encounter in the dungeons to stay, which means Pokémon will start asking to join you in your adventures, and will keep on doing so as long as you have space in your camp. Between dungeon runs, you can visit the camps and feed gummis to your Pokémon, boosting their stats and rare qualities, which are a brand new feature in this version of the game. Rare qualities are a special effect that plays a role for all your Pokémon when inside a dungeon, but only if that Pokémon is part of your three-man team. Rare qualities can range from an increased price when selling items, to bonus XP and additional healing. Basically, give Pokémon gummis, because rare qualities are very useful. Plus, if you get one you don’t like, you can feed them more gummis to get a new one, so it will never feel like a complete waste.
Traveling through the world with such a beautiful art style wouldn’t feel right without a great soundtrack to go with it. Luckily, Nintendo has a great track record with their music and that’s no different in Rescue Team DX. The town square sounds happy and full of joy, forests sounds mystical, Team Meanie sounds mean. There are places you’ll head later in the game, like the Frozen Forest, that sound eerie, but beautiful.
When you first boot up the game and look at your save file, you’ll notice a bunch of boxes simply labeled with question marks. These will show your progress throughout the game, and they’ll show what major bosses have been defeated as you figure out what’s going on in the world. In order to fight these bosses, though, you’ll need to get yourself really strong. There are two key ways to do this: either by doing the standard dungeon crawling whenever you accept a rescue mission, or by experiencing a brand new addition to this version, the Makuhita Dojo. Here, you’ll use dojo tickets to battle for 50 seconds, 55 seconds, or 60 seconds, in a course designed to your type’s advantage with Pokémon who will provide more experience than you’d typically get inside a dungeon. It’s a quick way to level up, especially if you get a new Pokémon who may be underleveled when compared to the rest of your team.
Rescue Team DX is exactly how a remake should be. This is a game that’s faithful to the original, with some overhauls that make it more streamlined and accessible to a brand new generation of players. The addition of the Fairy type is also nice, as it wouldn’t have been right if new players came in, used Poison Sting on a Fairy type and that didn’t end up being super effective. If you’ve never played a Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game before, this is a great starting point, as the difficulty it boasts is similar to the original with the added accessibility for those who don’t want that much of a challenge by including the dojo for faster and easier training.
The watercolour art style is beautiful and lends itself well to the aesthetics of the game.
Rescue Team DX plays even smoother than any of its predecessors. The new additions to make the game more accessible to newcomers is also a very welcome change.
The music fits the tone of the game to an extent not many other games can claim. One or two areas may miss the mark by a sliver, but that’s about it.
Fun Factor: 10
It’s an old series full of new twists and turns. Returning players will enjoy the upgrade and new players will fall in love with a series some of us grew up with.
Final Verdict: 10
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX is available now on Nintendo Switch.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.