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Individual Values: A Pokémon Feature - Week 22: Explore the Sky, Infinity and Beyond


Jonathan Higgins

Welcome to the twenty-second week of my Pokémon feature here on Game Podunk! In case you missed the last one, check it out! Stay tuned for future entries coming every Friday morning.

 

 

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Explore the Sky, Infinity and Beyond

 

 

Next year will mark ten years since the release of the first Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game(s). Red Rescue Team was released for the Game Boy Advance, and Blue Rescue Team was released for the handful of people intrepid enough to own the Nintendo DS during its initial launch. For those unfamiliar with the PMD series, who have managed to miss out until yesterday“s announcement of Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon, here“s the groundwork:

 

In each of the PMD games, you play as a human turned into a Pokémon. The first and second group of games in the series really wanted to make the player and protagonist relate to one another, so they had you take a personality test that more or less determined what Pokémon you turned into. It“s clever, thinking back, because a lot of the personality types were the same as the Natures from the main series of Pokémon games.

 

After taking your test, you were able to pick from a list of popular Pokémon and make that one your partner in the game. For example: my journey through Red Rescue Team almost ten years ago was the story of Squirtle and Bulbasaur. For the next games, Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky, it was of Pikachu and Charmander.

 

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The gameplay is reminiscent of any roguelike you've ever played. Explore randomly generated dungeon. Fight stuff. Get to the end. Except the games have a Pokémon twist, where you can use your moves (like Ember or Thundershock) from the games, and recruit any Pokémon to join your team. Each of the games until Gates to Infinity had almost every known species at the time obtainable, so there was always a ton of content, and rich environments to explore while you enjoyed neat music and the general ambiance of a game where you played as Pokémon in a world of Pokémon.

 

Not to mention, each game had elements that let you involve other players. Red/Blue Rescue Team, since it came well before the Nintendo Wi-Fi“s boon, had you entering passwords to rescue your (real-life) friends when they died in a dungeon, to prevent them from losing their items. Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky had you go online to rescue strangers and friends alike. Infinity had some StreetPass elements. This is a series that was heavily involved in actually helping others.

 

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Each of the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games had a rich world with plenty of environments that all feel cohesive with one another. And the story of the first game was simple, because it was trying to introduce players to this concept. I could say the same for Gates to Infinity, the recent 3DS game that felt scaled down, in order to perhaps introduce a new generation of Pokémon fans to this spin-off series. But…

 

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky has the single best story the Pokémon company has ever produced, and that includes the main series of games. I said it in a previous IV, but let me reiterate once again: That game is one of the only times to ever make me think, "Holy Toledo—this story is way too emotional/dark for ten year-olds."

 

I“m hoping, now that the introductory-feeling Gates to Infinity has been released, that the new Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon will return to form in the sense that the second iteration of games is meant for both newcomers and veterans alike, and will have similar story themes and much more to do.

 

My problem with Gates to Infinity wasn't that it was a bad game. It just had so much less content, less story, and less attainable Pokémon than the Explorers games that came before it. I“m hoping that Spike Chunsoft has spent some time creating an experience that will rival the second group of games. I“m genuinely excited about the next entry in the series—but I“m also keeping my expectations low, for now.

 

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If you haven“t tried the PMD games yet? I honestly recommend playing Explorers of Sky over any of the other games, if you don“t feel like waiting until Winter 2015/Spring 2016. You won“t regret it, if you“re a Pokémon fan. I was surprised to see that even one of my favorite developers played through that game and seemed to enjoy it as much as I did.

 

Is anyone else super familiar with this series, and as in love with PMD:EoS as I am? Please do let me know! And, of course, I“ll offer more information on Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon as it comes closer to release.

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