The OI Players: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon - Red/Blue Rescue Team

Panelists included Jellicent, Birkal, Texas Cloverleaf, DTC, and ium. Avatars by Birkal. Art by Ken Sugimori.
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The OI Players are back, baby! For those of you who missed our last article on the TCG for the GBC, you can check it out here. This time, we'll be reviewing Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team and Blue Rescue Team (for the GBA and DS, respectively). We'll once again be looking at the Sound, Graphics, Plot, Difficulty, and Overall Fun of this fantastic spin-off.


Music is one thing Pokémon games always seem to get right, and PMD is no exception. There's a very whimsical style running through a lot of these jams, but it's fitting. The game is about cutesy adventuring and the music just hits it spot on. "World Calamity" in particular is a solid jam; it sounds like something you'd hear on a mellow electro college radio show. They know when to heighten the mood, too, as seen with songs like "Versus Legendary." I dig quite a few of these tracks; these songs do not disappoint.

I promised myself I would not to geek out too much during the music bit of this review, so I will try to keep things concise. I'm a huge fan of Pokémon music in general, so I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed with the soundtrack of the first installment of the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon. It's all good incidental music that meshes well with the game, but I can't help but feel that the melodies are uninspired. There are a few gems, like the "Run Away" and "Fugitives" themes, which fits well with that point in the story the game is conveying. "Sky Tower" is also a good piece that inspires the mysteriousness that the plot attempts to show. I think the biggest letdown is that most Pokémon music has some peppy themes that get the players going. With a game as light-hearted and joyful as PMD, it's a tragedy that most of its musical selections slog along at a dreary pace.

There are plenty of musical gems in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon. Do not let Birkal convince you otherwise. I have played a ton of Pokémon games, and "Sky Tower" is definitely in my Top 3 favorite music tracks of all time, with two pieces from the sequels rivaling it. The buildup in "Sky Tower" is fantastic; at first the music is pretty light, but then the drums and flutes get involved and... wow. "Great Canyon" and "Buried Relic" are two other particularly good dungeon themes. Most of the dungeon music fits really well with the dungeons. Truly the only music I was underwhelmed by in PMD was the boss battle music.

As Jellicent and Birkal mentioned, there are both high and low points for the sounds of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon. The light-hearted ambling tunes one encounters in the overworld and some of the dungeons are very endearing, and pleasant to listen to as you explore your way through the game. The game often does an excellent job of conveying the overall mood of the particular goings-on in the game depending on whether they are upbeat or tense. However, PMD does let one down somewhat with its lacking of faster tracks. Nearly all the songs in the soundtrack do encompass the general ambling vibe regardless of the setting, and the lack of more intense tracks to convey emotions of fear, excitement, or general happiness is a noticeable loss.

From whimsical to eerie and everything in between, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon hardly disappoints. It really sets the mood for everything—as you go and explore each dungeon, you can't help but feel pumped. Sky Tower's soundtrack is an excellent example as it builds up quite nicely with the gradual addition of drums as DTC has stated. "Frosty Grotto" is a song that makes you feel like you're on the edge for every second that you're exploring that dungeon. It just has an ominous and eerie feeling that kind of crawls up your spine like someone is watching you, which really fits the gameplay. While the suitability of the music is absolutely unquestionable, I do feel that it kind of makes the game slow-moving. Who wants to creep through a massive dungeon with creepy music constantly playing in the background? By the end it feels daunting and repetitive, which can make the music feel unappealing at times.


Dis game so pwetty :3

The graphics for this game really are spot on. There's a certain cutesy cartoonish look that just works so well with these sprites. Really, is there anything more adorable than wandering the land as a lonely little Cubone? Yes, there is, and it's having a cute little Bulbasaur friend follow you around as you do so. The landscapes are detailed as well; Pokémon Square in particular looks fantastic. Also, Kangaskhan Storage is one of the coolest looking buildings ever. Tower of Babel move over!

I guess it looks pretty good for a Gameboy Advance game; I picked it up on my DS, so the graphical detail quality was a bit lower than what I had become accustomed to. Regardless, all of the sprites are crisp and the buildings of Pokémon Square are spot on. I especially like the visual variance of your hut depending on which Pokémon you are, and Pelipper's Post is such a scenic little cliff. The Pokémon icons and overworld sprites are equally adorable and suit the style well. My only quip is that the randomly generated floors in dungeons look very uninspired; it would have been great if other features were also implemented, like random trees, shrubs, and buildings.

The graphics were alright. I hardly paid attention to them the numerous times I played Pokémon Mystery Dungeon. The Pokémon sprites are adorable as they explore the dungeons. I agree that the dungeon floors were not that stellar; the layout of most of them was pretty lame.

For the platform the game is released on, PMD: Red Rescue Team has some terrific graphics. Every Pokémon is rendered to be as visually appealing as possible; both the overworld sprites and the dialog thumbnails effectively portray the Pokémon in either the cutest or most badass way possible. There’s very little to be said against the graphics of these games, the only criticism being the repetitiveness of the floors of each individual dungeon. As a whole, the graphics are brilliantly inspired.

If there's one thing to bash the PMD series for, I suppose it would be the graphics. The overworld sprites and buildings are cute, but sometimes look absolutely ridiculous (have you seen Jigglypuff when it's attacked?). I suppose there's only so much you can do when you're working with extremely small sprites. However, the dungeon layouts were drab and uninspired; they're easily negligible even though they take up a majority of the game. The background illustrations for the main menu screen are absolutely beautiful, though; too bad they aren't incorporated into the actual gameplay!


To say that Pokémon Mystery Dungeon has no good plot would just be stupid. While I do admit that there are a few "logic gaps" that make the game seem silly, such as being transformed into a Pokémon to be a destined savior, the whole Pokémon series is entirely fictional so who cares? The whole basis of the plot is in the mystery of being transformed into a Pokémon. The game gives you tiny bits and pieces of clues and information to trace the origins of that transformation incident which makes it like a little puzzle that is pieced together slowly. The whole mission of trying to understand why you're a Pokémon amidst the natural disasters and becoming a fugitive makes it anything but a one-dimensional plot. And who could forget the ending? It's simply just emotional no matter how cheesy it may seem to be. The plot is the reason to play this game.

This is the reason you are playing this game. Everything else is moderate at best, in my snobbish but pleasant opinion. The characters in this game are more engaging than those of any other Pokémon game; they immediately draw you into an intricate plot that all surrounds one giant mystery. The question of "why are you a Pokémon?" permeates the entire game, which gives it a surprising amount of focus. The character selection quiz at the start is a lot of fun (I got Treecko, naturally) and your original partner is adorable and polite. The most interesting part is how other Pokémon that inhabit the world interact with you. Many have ulterior motives and hidden opinions that, when revealed, lead to a surprising plot twist. The end is incredibly touching, especially considering that this is a spin-off Pokémon game of all things. I don't normally play games and get emotionally attached, but something about the end of this game really plucked at my heart strings. If you are playing PMD, do it for the plot.

The single best part of this game and, in my humble opinion, the best plot ever conceived for a Pokémon game. The progression through the game from a confused Pokémon, unaware of the world in which you find yourself, to becoming outlaws from Pokémon society to having to save the world all while your dedicated partner remains steadfast by your side is both inspiring and well written. The conclusion of the main storyline is perhaps the perfect climax, bringing together the entire plotline into a touching and poignant moment.

Lol, Pokémon games don't have plot. Oh, wait...

PMD has a surprisingly in-depth plot for a Pokémon dungeon crawler (no, really). You awake as a human trapped inside of a Pokémon's body. While most would have a Gregor Samsa-esque existential breakdown, you instead opt to save a Caterpie. It's just the first of many, many Pokémon that need rescuing in a land where Pokémon seem to constantly wind up in unfortunate predicaments. Throughout the game, the story really drives it all. Seriously, if you didn't want to punch out that Gengar at some point...

This is one of those rare cases where the spin-off features better characters and storylines than the original series. It's like the Fraiser of Pokémon~

Fantastic. Just fantastic. You easily get engaged into the plot. It did not feel like something that was forced. I loved the part where the hero and partner are fugitives and have to avoid all of the rescue teams. It was very suspenseful and interesting with all of the plot twists. I guarantee that you will tear up after you beat Rayquaza. If you don't, something is wrong with you.


This game isn't really difficult, to be perfectly honest. A more appropriate term would be "time dump" to express the difficulty of this game. It has some challenging moments and boss battles, but the battling system is all very simplistic. It's easy to pick a favorite move or two and spam them to death. A lot of the difficulty is luck, too; if you get lucky enough in a dungeon to always spawn next to the staircase, you can basically skip the whole thing. Towards the end, there are some optional levels that ramp up to a crazy difficult (over ninety floors, what in the world), but for the most part, this game is accessible to most gamers.

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon has a pretty nice difficulty curve, from the beginning of the storyline until the end of not just the main plot but the entire game. The early dungeons ease one into the combat system and slowly ramp up the difficulty, with each successive boss being a significant jump in difficulty from the previous one. By the time you reach Sky Tower, even the dungeon itself becomes a credible threat, with monster houses waiting at every turn and evil Agility Aerodactyl ready to decimate your team. Rayquaza itself is possibly the hardest boss to defeat given your party members at the time, but the bosses themselves only increase in capability as you progress through the post-game. Though the dungeons themselves are often not a huge threat with a well-trained team, the bosses certainly provide PMD with an effective amount of difficulty.

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon is not difficult. It is just incredibly cheap and fairly grind intensive. Poison—especially from Toxic—is a killer in floors that are really long. Pokémon such as Aerodactyl and Venomoth are very annoying to defeat without losing a ton of health. Escorting Pokémon in dungeons where every Pokémon is level 35+ is a very daunting task, and sometimes you will be forced to escort Pokémon to get access to a special friend area. Monster houses often come up at the most inconvenient of times. There are also humongous 99 floor dungeons that can be really fun to explore but also annoying. Specifically when you are at the 65th floor of Silver Trench and you die to a Dewgong's Sheer Cold. Twice. If you really want a challenge that is not the game being cheap, try to get to the 99th floor of the dungeons that level you down to Level 1.

PMD is a bit harder than main series games. Yeah, that doesn't say much. The game's got a bit higher difficulty overall, but it's nothing that's gonna prove too much to handle. At worst, you'll hit a few "son of a bitch!" moments. It's no Pokémon Ranger, but it's not a total cakewalk. Just follow the golden rule of dungeon crawlers and remember to level, mate.

The games are of moderate difficulty—there are very few challenges within the dungeons themselves, but the boss fights can prove to be quite the nuisances. It really does get on your nerve when Articuno has a move that hits the entire room and one-shots you in Powder Snow. Also, what's the point of doing an escort mission in a dungeon that has Venomoth creeping around every corner waiting to spam Silver Wind? From Monster Houses to 99-floor dungeons and certain luck factors, PMD can prove to be a bit challenging. However, with the introduction of items such as Sleep Seeds and the simple turn-by-turn battling system, most of the gameplay is a simple cakewalk. I believe the difficulty is good enough to keep anyone playing the game without being too easy or too infuriatingly difficult.

Overall Fun

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon has addictive gameplay that is further complimented by using and collecting your favorite Pokémon. Exploring dungeons and finding treasure is surprisingly fun. It is pretty easy to pick up because the game gives you a pretty comprehensive introduction as to how to play. Unfortunately, in the main storyline, the game does not encourage use of Pokémon that are not your starter. Most of the Pokémon you can recruit have mediocre stat growth. The game only allows you to go into a dungeon with three Pokémon, so you are only able to bring one Pokémon that is not one of your starters with you to a dungeon. I disagree that the game becomes bland after you play through it the first time; sure, the game is much more predictable, but there are a million different starter combinations that you can use. Despite the flaws this game has, it is still a great game, and the sequel fixes most of those flaws!

Although the entire game is generally amazing, the novelty and enjoyment of it dies down quickly after the main storyline is finished. Of course there are the new post-game dungeons and storyline that try to keep players engaged, but the idea of going through dungeons over and over again becomes bland. However, post-game play doesn't mean it necessarily has to be boring. Set goals for youself, whether it be recruiting Kecleon or Chansey, or going through all the 99-floor dungeons unscathed. As a spin-off game, PMD is certainly refreshing from the main Pokémon games and still has an addicting quality that draws you in to play it every time. There is no mistaking the fact that Pokémon Mystery Dungeon is a spectacular spin-off game and has a general likability to it. I can't help myself when I say that I look forward to the newer versions of these games.

Despite a few flaws, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon is an excellently-executed spin-off Pokémon game with a very addictive quality. While experiences may vary, I am certainly not among the minority in saying the Mystery Dungeon will keep you coming back over and over to play it again, despite the advanced plot knowledge. If you like the dungeon crawler experience, then you will love this game, and if you’ve never tried it, then give this game a shot. You may be surprised with how quickly your thoughts can change!

If you're up for a cute RPG with catchy music, go play this now. If not, why are you on Smogon? It's a refreshing challenge when compared to the main series and offers a good amount of playtime (unlike a lot of other spin-offs). It can seem a bit awkward to get into at first, but once you get going, you'll just want to traverse dungeon after dungeon and keep meeting new Pokémon. Definitely worth checking out if you haven't already ^.^

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon is fun enough the first time you play through it, but it loses what little charm it had gameplay-wise after that. The dungeons are incredibly tedious and the game doesn't encourage you to use a variety of partners. One of the things that sets PMD apart from other dungeon crawlers is the diverse amount of characters you can stack on your team (all Gen3 and below Pokémon). It's quaint that it doesn't encourage you to use them; you can pick your two favorites and beat the game pretty handily with just them. Battling isn't especially fun and I found myself avoiding most battles at the end of the game to speed things up. Like I stated before, you're playing this game for the plot. The gameplay walks a dangerous line between "bearable" and "a waste of time," so don't get your hopes too high up in this department.


Is there more that you'd like to discuss about Pokémon Mystery Dungeon? Perhaps you're curious about its upcoming 3DS sequel? Well, swing by Orange Islands and check out the PMD thread! We'd be happy to hear your thoughts on this spin-off series ^.^

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