Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team

Around 1980, developers Michael Toy and Glenn Wichman produced a game called Rogue that spawned a subgenre of role-playing games known as roguelikes. Among the chief producers of roguelike RPGs is Chunsoft, responsible for the first five installments of the Dragon Quest franchise and the Mystery Dungeon series that crept into other RPG series such as Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. In North America in 2006, Chunsoft developed, and Nintendo published, a pair of Pokémon RPGS, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team for the Nintendo DS and Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team for the Gameboy Advance, translating the classic Pokémon gameplay decently to the roguelike subgenre.

When starting a new game, the player must answer a number of personality questions determining which Pokémon they start as, and can choose one of many companion Pokémon as well. In the game's hub town, the player can perform functions such as saving, shopping for new equipment, storing items, visiting a "friend area" to take on a third companion, and taking on several missions with rewards. There are, however, several story missions the player must complete to advance the game, with all mandatory and optional missions taking place across randomly generated dungeons with a certain number of floors. Preventing Red Rescue Team from being a terrible on-the-go game is its quicksave feature, with the longer dungeons also typically having floors with permanent save points.

While the player's party wanders across dungeons, enemies move as well, with combat beginning once the player's party draws near one or more enemies. When this happens, the player's Pokémon can normally attack the enemy for a certain amount of damage or use one of up to four abilities that have a limited amount of moves (though a certain item can recover all move usages), with the player and enemies taking turns, with one move at a time. As in the main Pokémon games, different types of abilities have different effects on different types of enemy Pokémon, with this fact providing a decent level of strategy throughout the game. The A.I. controls the player's allies, and when an enemy Pokémon dies, all Pokémon in the player's party gains experience.

Sometimes, however, when an enemy Pokémon is low on health, it may, depending upon how many "friend areas" the player has purchased in the game's hub town, offer to join the player's party, in which case they immediately become A.I.-controlled allies, although if they die in the same dungeon, they're gone for good. If the player and his or her chosen partner die, the game takes them back to the hub town, with some items and money held lost, although the game retains acquired experience. During a story mission, however, the player can choose to suspend their game until another person also playing the game decides to rescue them via a Gameboy Advance connection, and their own party going through the same dungeon to the player's point of death.

Odds are, however, that since players likely won't have a real-life friend having the game, that they'll have to do without the rescue system, although luckily, the game is certainly beatable without making use of it. Ultimately, the battle system works decently, with the different types of moves providing a nice layer of strategy throughout the game, alongside the fact that the game is nice to players when they die. Granted, things such as a turn order meter would have been nice, and there are some other minor flaws such as the fact that items disappear from shop inventories when the player buys and item, but otherwise, the gameplay helps the game more than hurts.

Controls are largely solid, with easy shopping, a good direction on how to advance, and the quicksave feature that essentially allows the player to save their game at any time, with only some minor flaws such as the inability to view the game clock outside dungeons.

The story is actually decent for a Pokémon game, focusing on a human turned into a Pokémon that yearns to be human again, with some presumable variations depending upon whatever Pokémon the player starts as, not to mention which partner Pokémon they select. Granted, there isn't a whole lot of development of characters other than the player's Pokémon and their partner, although the plot is more than adequate nonetheless.

The music is good for a Gameboy Advance game, with plenty of catchy dungeon tracks and a solid town theme, although the quality at times could have certainly been better. The graphics are nice, as well, with well designed Pokémon and dungeons, with some occasional change in scenery even within the same dungeon, although the character sprites don't show a whole lot of emotion (with the character portraits doing so, however). Ultimately, the game both sounds and looks good.

Finally, a straightforward playthrough takes somewhere from twenty to thirty hours, with plenty of postgame content and replay value, given the variations in the player's default Pokémon and their partner. Ultimately, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team is a largely solid roguelike RPG, translating the classic Pokémon gameplay very nicely to a roguelike, with only some minor issues in its gameplay and narrative. Despite these flaws, Red Rescue Team is an enjoyable experience for both Pokémon fans and newcomers to the series alike.

The Good:
+Translates Pokémon gameplay nicely to a roguelike.
+Solid control.
+Great music and graphics.
+Decent story.
+Plenty replay value.

The Bad:
-Can get slightly repetitive.

The Bottom Line:
A great roguelike.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: Gameboy Advance
Game Mechanics: 8/10
Controls: 9/10
Story: 7/10
Music/Sound: 9/10
Graphics: 9/10
Localization: 10/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Medium
Playing Time: 20-30 Hours

Overall: 9/10

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License