Gaming Nostalgia: the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series

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I’m so happy that I was able to claim the whole Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series for this amazing Pokémon collaboration. Together with several other content creators, I took a retrospective look back at the Pokémon franchise in this hub article. If you arrived from the hub article to this article about the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series, welcome! In this article, I’m going to talk about my memories with these games and look back at this spin off series and maybe try and discover why Game Freak made so many sequels of this game. I want to give an important side note, this article isn’t going to cover all the Mystery Dungeon games. It’s only going to cover the games that I have played. Basically, it’s a personal retrospective. So, before we really start, feel free to leave a comment down below with your opinions, thoughts and memories of these games and/or the content of this article.

2005 – Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team & Red Rescue Team (Gameboy Advance and Nintendo DS)

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If you read my blog in the past, you might know that I started blogging in 2010. That was a blog in my native language Dutch. It was more of a personal blog that now transformed into this English blog. 

On there, I took a look at these games but since that blog is archived, that article is archived as well. Yet, don’t worry friends. I have added it to my endless list of games I still have to write about on this blog. 

Now, how did I learn about this game? Well, I love to tell this story. Back in the day, I went each and every summer to the sea side on holiday together with my family. Before we left, my aunt took me to our local video game store to rent some games for the trip and the holiday. It was still a while before I got my own Nintendo DS but when I noticed that there was a new Pokémon game for the Gameboy Advance and the Nintendo DS, I didn’t hesitate and rented out Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Red Rescue Team. 

I was so happy to play a new Pokémon game since I had almost beaten Pokémon Ruby. That year was also the first year I slept in my own room and not together in the room with the bunkbeds where my aunts and sister slept. 

Just to give you an idea how much that game impacted me, the memories of that year’s trip have heavy ties to that game. When I was replaying this game for a bit to better write this article, the memories came flooding back quite hard. The various sand castles I had built and the activities I did with my friends in the holiday park. 

Sadly enough, I had to say goodbye to the cartridge since renting isn’t for ever. I didn’t enjoy returning the game after the trip since I got quite close to beat the game. I can’t remember exactly what happened next but when I got my Nintendo DS a while later from that same lovely aunt, I had gotten my hands on the DS version of the game. You can be sure that I played quite happily through that game. 

In past articles, I talked about how the “Farewell” music having a big impact on me. I’m actually listening to that track while I’m writing this section. This track does something with me. It brings back memories of those trips to the sea side which are memories I never want to say goodbye to. Glorious memories with various friends and family that shaped me as a person and made me look forward to those trips. 

I also remember quite well that the ending of this game was one of the first times I truly cried. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but for the people who have played this game know what I’m talking about. How the writing and music comes together extremely nicely after your long and big adventure with an amazing way to tell the generic message about the strength and importance of friendship. It might sound quite cheesy but I love how beautiful this story comes together. I played a game with an amazing message about friendship while I forged new friendships and enjoyed them without any regrets. 

2007 – Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Explorers of Time / Darkness + 2009 – Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of the Sky (Nintendo DS)

Pokemon-mystery-dungeon-explorers-of-timeReview of this game

To tell this story, I want to take you back to summer of 2007. In that summer, I learn about this game existing through a magazine. Seeing that the Mystery Dungeon game got a sequel, I was extremely hyped and I started to save up money. 

But then, The Legend Of Zelda – Phantom Hourglass happens. Besides being a big Pokémon fan, I’m also an extremely big Zelda fan. So, I started to play Phantom Hourglass. By the time I have finished the Zelda game, I got myself Pokémon Pearl

Fast forward a bit to Christmas of that same year. It was time to put together a Secret Santa list. While I was browsing the website of my local game store, I noticed that I had almost forgotten about Pokémon Mystery Dungeon. So, I placed the game on my list. And I think you know what happened. I got this game for Christmas. 

That evening, I was a bit of an anti-social person. I was so extremely hyped for this game and because I finally got my hands on it, I started to play this game right away. I can’t remember why I hadn’t bought this game earlier but hey, we don’t remember every single thing.  

It has been almost 15 years since I played this game but I still remember various moments that happened in this game. The atmosphere, writing, music, pacing and various other elements of this game are just engraved in my memories. When an expanded version of this game got released two years later called “Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of the Sky”, I wanted to have that game as well. 

Now, I had to admit that it took me quite a while before I got that expanded version. In a matter of fact, there is a small story behind that as well. I remember that I bought a copy of “Explorers of the Sky” online from a website I have bought various games from before. When the game arrived, it arrived in a shiny box but there was something wrong. There was a copy of “Explorers of Time” inside of the case. So, I was able to return it and they sent me a whole new copy. Thankfully, with the correct game this time. I remember that it felt quite sketchy to send a whole game through the post instead of sending it as a package. 

Oh well, I’m glad that I have the expanded version in my collection now. For some strange reason, I haven’t played that expanded version. I think it’s because I don’t want to destroy or ruin my nostalgic feelings with game since these Mystery Dungeon games have so much nostalgic meaning to me. But, I think that it’s time to play the expanded version since the memories of writing this article and working on the collab are memories I don’t want to forget either. Let’s go and celebrate the Pokémon franchise. 

2013 – Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity (Nintendo 3DS)

PMGTIReview of the game

So, in late 2012 I decided to delete my personal Dutch blog and in the middle of 2013, I decided to completely rebrand myself and my blog in English. When I look back to my earlier work on this blog, I see the growth I have made.

This game was also the first game that inspired me to look more critical to the games I’m playing. To start analyzing why certain mechanics work and why certain mechanics don’t work. It inspired me to write my first ever rant on this blog. If I would have written this article today, I think it would be a bit better structured, but hey. Hindsight is 2021. 

In August of 2013, I decided that I wanted to write a review on this game. I remember opening the editor on that day and opening my notes. And then I started writing the article. Usually, my articles where around 1k-words long in that time. Expect, for this game I kept writing and adding to the article. And I kept writing and writing. Before I knew it, the review was over double of the length of my usual articles. 

That review is what inspired my current style of writing. Trying to find all the things that a game does right and explaining what a game does wrong and how it could have been improved. I know full well that a writing style is something that grows and changes over the years, but the initial spark to write better articles was with that review. 

So yeah, thank you Gates to Infinity to help me improve my writing skills and to help me build a blog that I’m quite proud off. Of course, the game itself is something that I quite enjoyed a lot as well. While it has some rough edges, but I still found it an enjoyable game. Critics really didn’t like this game and most of them tore it apart. 

But, I enjoyed building the paradise to it’s full glory and the story of this game. Now, if you want to know more about my opinion on this game, I highly recommend that you read the review since I still agree with everything I said. 

2015 – Pokémon: Super Mystery Dungeon (Nintendo 3DS)

250px-Super_Mystery_Dungeon_EN_boxartFirst Impression of this game

So, in 2015 we got what we thought was the final game in the Mystery Dungeon series called Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon. The final climax of the series that would end off this enjoyable dungeon crawler with a bang. 

Now, I have to admit that I was afraid that this game was going to be mediocre. Thankfully, I have been proven wrong. This game is one strong entry in the Mystery Dungeon series. The reviews from the critics where more favorable compared to the previous entry.  

Now, you might have noticed that I haven’t written a review for this game yet. That’s because not only did I got distracted by various other games… I have to admit that I sort of rage quitted the game at one point near the end where I was unable to beat a certain dungeon since I barely had enough items. 

Now, when I was putting this collab together, I started to play this game again from my save file and I got through that part. So, I’m now almost finished with the game and I can’t wait to finally beat it and write a review about it. Since I want to share my thoughts on this game after beating the game. 

Man, playing this game was always so bittersweet. Since I knew it was the final game in the spin-off series and to be quite honest, I don’t want to finish this game. Since for some reason, I don’t want to close the book on this series. Ever since the first game, these spin-offs became a huge part of my life. If you read through this whole article, you see how much these games mean to me. Then again, all nice things must come to an end and maybe it’s time to wrap everything up and let everything come full circle. 

2020 – Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX (Nintendo Switch)

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Then again, this series might not have come to an end. It’s possible that this game is just an one off remake of the series but who knows… It’s possible that Game Freak is working on bringing this spin-off series back. 

I have to admit that I haven’t bought the game on release. A lot of that had to do with the fact that the game released in early March last year and then COVID started happening in my home country and my life is extremely occupied with other things like my job and various other projects. 

So, in late 2020, when I started looking for writers for this collab, I finally decided to buy myself a boxed copy. Since then, I have been playing this remake in between the games I play to review or write about on my blog. To be honest, I’m quite glad that I bought this remake. Since this remake improved so much on the original game, it’s amazing. 

I think that this remake is going to be one time remake of the original, but like I said previously, I’m silently hoping that there will be more stories told in this spin-off style. So crossing my fingers for either another remake or a brand new Mystery Dungeon game.

And that was it

I feel that I’m going to repeat myself when I say that this spin off series means quite a lot to me. While it’s sad to know that the Switch remake might be the final game in the spin-off series, I’m also happy that it ended on quite a high note. 

The reason that the spin-off series ended was because the developers didn’t know where to take the series next. Which I can totally understand, since each story is quite unique.

I think that the Mystery Dungeon series is to Pokémon what the Mario RPG games are to the Mario series. A series of well loved spin off games that have touching and humorous stories that to be quite honest, sometimes are better than the original stories. 

In any case, I think I can ramble on and on about this series and before I start repeating myself a million times with different words I want to thank Game Freak and Chunsoft from creating this amazing spin-off series. While I silently hope that there are going to be more games in this style, I’m quite happy with the games that were released. Thank you for this memorable series. 

And with that, I feel like I said everything I wanted to say about these games for now. Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care. Also, be sure to check out the hub article if you want to read more articles from other amazing content creators about the Pokémon series. This retrospective collab was so much fun to work on and it allowed me to write an amazing piece like this one. 🙂 

 

Review: Yokai Watch (3DS) ~ Insprited Articles

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Official website

I bought this game on the release date. But due to various reasons, I have never beaten this game. Also, I was quite sure that I reviewed this game back in 2016. Strangely enough, I didn’t. So, now that I have beaten the game since last week, I think it’s HIGH time to put my opinion into words and write them down into a review. Did I enjoy Yo-Kai Watch or were the breaks because I thought that this game is a broken mess. Well, let’s find out together. As always, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

Is this Pokémon?

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In this game, you play as Nathan. A young boy wandering in the woods while he is collecting bugs. Then he stumbles upon a machine with a crank. He puts in a coin and outcomes a Pokéball with a strange creature—

While at first glance, it’s easy to compare this game to Pokémon looking at the screenshots and things like that. But let me tell you, this game is quite different from Pokémon.

So, the story. Out of the gashapon machine, Nathan gets a capsule that gives him the Yo-Kai Watch. With this watch, he can see different creatures roaming around in the city causes various issues from the people living there.

If you don’t already know what Yo-Kai is, let me briefly explain it to you. These monsters are based on Japanese folklore. These are phantoms curse people to give them a big temper, a bad hair day, unable to lie… That’s the real basic gist of it. At least, how they are used in this game. If you want to learn more about Yokai, the Wikipedia page is a great way to start.

Now, one thing I do have to say is that this game is structured like an anime series. There are various chapters wherein you learn about something strange going on, discovering that it’s Yo-Kai activity and then you solve it. I know that the story is written for younger kids to get into, but to be frank and honest, I found the story a bit bland. Mediocre even from time to time. Especially the ending is a mess. There was too little build-up to the overall final boss of the game and to be honest, the game ends abruptly.

This doesn’t take away that the dialogues can be very funny from time to time. It does pull off some jokes you have seen more than once in cartoons, but that doesn’t matter too much to me. Even with this bland story, it was able to put a smile on my face from time to time.

While I’m still a bit bitter that the credits froze for me and I had to redo the final boss fight over, I find the scene after the credits so; predictable. I can understand a younger child getting invested in the story, but most of the time, it didn’t click with me.

While I had beaten the main story at 18 hours, I had also beaten a lot of side quests. This game is pretty short and can be beaten in a day or two. Now, I have played short experiences that I enjoyed an awful lot, so I’m not going to be too harsh on the game for that reason. Besides, if you play all the side quests and try to complete this game, you are well into a game that will last you give or take 80 hours.

Too old?

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While I was playing this game, I became well aware that I wasn’t the target audience for this game whatsoever. While this game has a type system set up with Yo-Kai being weak or strong to another type… and things similar like that, I rarely had to use items to power up my Yo-Kai.

Now, this game is a sort of adventure RPG game. You are allowed to freely explore the city to solve side quests and favors.

Sidenote, I don’t understand why they split side quests and favors since they are basically the same thing. Oh well.

During your exploration of the city, you can find various Yo-Kai roaming around the city. Under cars, under vending machines, in trees, in the water… They are everywhere in this game. Yet, always at similar spots. So, if your watch, that functions as a radar, picks up the aura of a nearby Yo-Kai, you know which spots to look at.

That’s the case for the overworld. You also have various caves and dungeons you can explore. In here, you see the Yo-Kai roaming free. You can easily pass most of them, but thanks to your very limited stamina, you will be unable to outrun them all.

Now, there are a lot of mechanics in this game that is underused in my opinion. What I mean here is that there is just no real need for some features. For example, the fusion of Yo-Kai is just additional content for the people who want to complete the game. In my playthrough, I was able to beat the final boss with ease without any fusion Yo-Kai.

There is a lot to do in this game, but I never felt I had to do it to progress in the game. Even without any leveling up, I was able to beat the harder areas. Yes, I’m saying that this game is pretty easy.

This could have been solved by introducing a difficulty option where veteran players could face a bigger challenge since the potential is there. I really enjoyed exploring and finding secret items all over the place.

Something I found a bit disappointing is when you start tackling various side quests near the end of the game instead of at the start of the game… Well, I almost always carried the items needed to solve the quest or favor. Or my  Yokai was so strong that I was able to easily beat the Yokai in the quest.

I would have loved to see a sort of Yokai-dex system in this game. Like a Pokédex where you can check the areas and things, you need to do to require their medal.

I know I might upset some people with this, but I found the battle system pretty lacking. I understand that it innovates in quite a lot of areas but, I find it a bit boring. The big issue is that you get too much money from battling Yokai & your Yokai level up way too quickly. Making them too strong so you barely have to use the special abilities of your Yokai.

Speaking about those, I found it pretty frustrating that whenever you purified a Yokai or started their special attack, the game would wait a few moments before the actual attack launches. The few waiting moments were, oh, so annoying. I wish they change that in the sequel.

Something I really dislike now is the map system. I already started playing the sequel to this game and the map system is improved so much in the sequel, I find this system pretty annoying to use. You can’t put a tracking arrow on side quests, the buildings aren’t labeled in the minimap and you are only able to see the map of the region you are in. This is improved in the sequel, so they learned their lesson there.

Another mechanic that is more fleshed out in the sequel is the “recruit” tactic. The way how you befriend other Yokai. This has been made a lot easier in the sequel. Now it’s a guessing game on which Yokai wants what. Also, I found it annoying that you weren’t able to choose which enemy Yokai to feed to try and recruit them. -sigh-

A city

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Now, I could go on for quite a while longer about the gameplay; but there are other things we need to talk about in the review. For example, you can save your game anywhere from the pause menu. This game doesn’t autosave, so keep that in mind.

Visually, the presentation of this game is pretty good. I really like the design of the city and enjoyed exploring it.

There are a few things that could have been improved design-wise. First of all, the crossroad mechanic. This is dumb. There is this mechanic in the game where you need to wait for the light to turn green to cross. If you cross red lights too many times, a big Oni will come and wipe out your party. Now, there are no consequences for losing this fight. So, if you want to teach kids a lesson to watch both ways before crossing a street,  you aren’t going to do it with this.

In addition to that, most of the time, all the roads didn’t have any cars. While I know that they exist and drive around on the streets, but I barely saw them. So, I crossed the streets away from the crossroads. Besides, the cars do stop for you without any penalty. So, yeah. Unless mechanic.

Near the end of the game, you unlock a quick travel mechanic. Yet, you do have to “unlock” each travel point. I can see why they did it like this, but I would have preferred that I had all the travel points unlocked from the start.

Now, the soundtrack got a lot of praise from various other reviews. And I’m sorry, I don’t like it. I don’t hate the soundtrack either. The big issue is that it fits the theme quite well in the game but I don’t like listing to it outside of the game. As a matter of fact, I switched to a different soundtrack while writing this review. The biggest issue I have with the soundtrack is that the same melody comes back in too many tracks. That’s something I don’t like at all.

The sound design and the various voice clips are good. I enjoyed them. Each time I think about this game, I hear “PAWS OF FURRY” often in my head.

Now, something I find a mixed bag is the mini-scenes you get at the end of each side quest. I can see that some of them are fun for little children, but I hate the fact that they are randomized. Some of them are negative and don’t give you a bonus and others give you a huge bonus. But, the pool of usable cutscenes is too small. I have seen a ton of scenes too many times that I know after one second if I’m going to get a reward or not.

In terms of the controls and the UI, this game is very good. There is one mechanic that I really dislike, but I’m happy that it’s in the game and I don’t want to see it get changed. That is the running mechanic. You run way too quickly out of stamina. Also, while you are running and you want to turn, your character first goes into a break animation before you bolt into the other direction.

This game can be controlled with the buttons on the 3DS and the touchscreen. Personally, I prefer buttons. Since I felt more in control with them. While, actually, the touchscreen controls are handier. That way you don’t have to take your stylus each and every time you enter a battle.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. I left a few things out to surprise you if you decide to play this game. But, I think it’s time for the conclusion.

Conclusion

Negatives:

– The game is too easy for veterans players.

– There are too many mechanics underused.

– The crosswalk mechanic is just meh.

– The soundtrack repeats the same melody a bit too much.

– The story is a bit too bland from time to time.

Positives:

+ Big postgame.

+ Really pretty game.

+ Even when the story is bland, the writing can be really funny sometimes.

+ …

Conclusion:

So, this game is a kids’ game and it shows. But does that mean it’s a bad game? No, not at all. This game can be really fun from time to time, but it really shows that this game has flaws. This game isn’t worth 90/100 that some outlets are giving it.

I think it’s best that, if you are interested in playing this game, give this game a shot. There is a demo in the eShop, you can play that first before you decide to buy the full game.

I can recommend this game but don’t set your bar too high. The game is very lighthearted and remember, it’s a kids game so some parts will be easy if you are a hardcore gamer.

Thankfully, a lot of the issues I have with this game are solved in the sequel. But even with all the issues talked about in this review, the game is fun to play and I’m glad that I experienced it. Now, on to the sequel to finish that one!

Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

Score: 69/100