Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon is the latest installment in the quirky roguelike RPG series that has players don the persona of a Pokémon and explore a world teeming with mysteries and NPCs.
The game kicks off by first asking you a series of personality questions to decide which Pokémon you will become. For those who don’t like the outcome (we’re not all cool kids, I guess), you can choose from a roster of 20 starters. I was surprised to realise the game selected Totodile for me since Pokémon Gold Version, which that character first appeared, holds a very special place in my heart. Co-incidence, or does this game know me on a deeper level than I expected?
You’re also tasked with answering questions about the perfect partner. The answers decide the outcome of the Pokémon that will aide you on your journey. This, too, can be changed if you don’t like the outcome. For the record, I went with Tepig.
With the administration out of the way, your journey begins when your character wakes up without any memory of how he got into the game world. The only thing he does remember is that he’s from the “human world”. Before getting the chance to realise what’s going on, a group of Beheeyem attack causing him to flee and eventually run into a Nuzleaf who befriends our hero and takes him back to his village where we learn the ropes of the game and meet some friends.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gc4ZS9ID-aU&w=560&h=315]
For newcomers, the first few chapters will be a welcome tutorial on some of the subtle mechanics of the game. For long time fans of the series, these chapters will feel awfully monotonous thankfully broken up sporadically with whispers of the overarching story which is one that is quite epic and worth the elbow grease investment.
The game takes place in various dungeons whose layouts are randomly generated. No two play throughs will be the same. Inside, enemy Pokémon roam around to battle. Movement in the dungeons is turn based. When you move, the enemies move. If you’re not careful you can become overwhelmed with enemy Pokémon, attacking in tandem from all directions. Some attacks have quite a lot of range, too so it’s not uncommon to be the victim of an attack from an off-screen enemy. The use of items while dungeon diving is highly encouraged as you’ll find everything from traps to healing berries and magic wands with various effects.
Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon
Item management is key to success in Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon. Only a small amount of items can be brought into each dungeon. Items you don’t need can be stored in a safe box for withdrawal later. For RPG fans, this can feel like an uncomfortable adjustment. There are plenty of RPGs (the main Pokémon games included) where you can conceivably finish the game without using so much as a healing item. This is not one of those games. Sometimes battle tactics isn’t enough, the solution is usually an item.
New to Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon are “Looplets”, accessories that attach to your party characters. By themselves, they do nothing but within dungeons you’ll come across “Emeras” or gems that attach to the Looplets. Emeras can only be used within the dungeon they’re found, and they add all kinds of abilities from being able to see where all the enemies are on the dungeon floor map to increasing attack power. Later in the game, Looplets and Emeras can also cause Mega Evolution.
Alliance Attacks allow you to register a move from each party member to unleash in one turn. This is a very satisfying mechanic that is great for getting out of a jam. It depletes your ‘belly’, though, so there’s incentive to use sparingly if you want to hold onto those all important items for the boss battles.
Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon
Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon is not a game for those with dangerously short attention spans. While the constant use of items can feel tedious at times, the real work is in grinding to level up. Some boss battles feel very unbalanced if you haven’t put in the effort during the dungeon. Enemy Pokémon may only take a couple of hits whereas boss battles can be quite powerful. Fall within a dungeon and you’re given a choice of restarting from your save file and lose your items and money, or send a rescue team in from Pelipper Island.
Rescue teams can be made up of your helper Pokémon, or with characters downloaded via StreetPass encounters. This can make trying to finish a dungeon twice the work as you re-navigate the dungeon — that will have a new layout — to find your fainted character. It’s a harsh lesson to learn and is actually a cool way of handling the ‘revive’ mechanic, but those who are in it for the story might find it frustrating.
All the repetitiveness is wrapped up in a warm, fuzzy blanket of the storyline that features some interesting turns and a surprising amount of emotional drama. I wasn’t expecting to care too much for the characters, however the narrative is quite well written with moments of laughter, joy, guilt and sorrow peppered throughout. Throw in a full roster of 720 Pokémon and you really do have a game oozing with content that constantly rewards your efforts.
Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon
Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon is a great addition to the franchise. It manages to pass on a lot of skills to younger gamers in a way only the Pokémon series can that will be useful to them as they branch out to increasingly mature titles. At the same time, it provides enough challenge and an engaging storyline for older fans of the genre.

Editor's Rating

Presentation 8.0
Gameplay 7.5
Engagement 7.9
Overall Impression 8.0
Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon promises a quirky title that heaps on repetitive tasks with the satisfying pay off of a well crafted, engaging story. The new features in this instalment brings lots for new gamers and genre fans alike.
7.9
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Ty Muddle

Ty Muddle

I cut my gaming teeth on a Commodore 64 my siblings and I found stashed under my parents bed. It was the early 90's and the strange computerised images were a novelty for a young kid living in a rural Australian town. It would be some years before I was introduced to a simple word processor powered by a Apple II my grandfather found at the dump but it didn't take much to spark a love of writing and video gaming that would continue through my life. My first "modern" console was, like most people in Australia at the time, a Sega Master System II. In those days you'd hire games from the local video store. I always loved flipping to the back of the game manual to see the cheat codes other players would scribble in the "Notes" section.

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