Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: March 24, 2013
ESRB: E for Everyone
Pokémon is one of the most popular gaming series in the world, and it also has a ton of spin-offs; the more popular of which include Pokémon Snap and the Pokémon Stadium games. Then there’s the slightly more recent Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series. These roguelikes offer a deeper look into the lives of Pokémon on top of their randomized dungeon-crawling gameplay.
With Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity, the spin-off series not only continues but also jumps into the world of 3D. How does it fare as a game and Pokémon title?
As with every other Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game, you play as a human that is turned into a Pokémon and brought to their world – a world where humans are myth. You’re brought into the Pokémon world for a specific reason, though that’s not revealed until later on in the game. In any case, most of what goes on in Gates to Infinity involves going out on adventures and helping build you and your partner’s “Paradise.” I’ll go into what Paradise is and how it works later.
The story in Gates to Infinity is a lot more complex than what you’ll find in the main Pokémon games. It can even get pretty emotional and dark at times (one moment in particular shocked me quite a bit). Sure, it can be very predictable, especially if you’ve played a Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game before. I really enjoyed Gates to Infinity’s story, though. It was very heartfelt and the ending almost made me cry.
As for the gameplay, which is pretty vital for a dungeon-crawler, it’s addicting but could be a lot better. You go through randomized dungeons, battle enemies with a team of up to four Pokémon, recruit new teammates, and complete your objective. Some features from previous Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games have been changed or omitted, such as hunger. This added more challenge and strategizing, so some dedicated fans of the series may be disappointed at the removal. My biggest issue, however, was the AI of your partners. Most of the time, they are downright stupid. They’ll use certain attacks or support skills at the wrong time, and even wander off for no reason.
Another thing that fans might be upset about is the lack of selection when you’re choosing your playable character, and the drop in the amount of recruitable Pokémon. In previous Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games, you were able to choose from starters from every generation (and then some) and almost every currently known Pokémon at that time was recruitable. In the last Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game, that was a whopping 491 recruitable Pokémon. In Gates to Infinity, you’re restricted to choosing from Unova’s starters as well as Axew and Pikachu, and the amount of recruitable Pokémon has plummeted to under 140. The reasons for this are unknown – it could be due to memory restraints or the immense effort it would take to render and animate every single Pokémon in 3D.
The other parts of Gates to Infinity are more enjoyable. One of the biggest is the construction of Paradise. In it, you’re able to build shops, minigames, dojos, and berry and seed fields anywhere you please. Not only that, but you’re also able to choose from different environments for a plot of land and color your projects. Paradise adds a great deal of customization to the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series, and I hope features like this are kept in future games.
Companion Mode also offers a much-needed break from the main game. It allows you to take control of any one of your other Pokémon and complete requests. You’re also able to build in customize in Paradise in this mode. In any case, it’s a real treat to play as my favorite Pokémon, Archen! Then there’s the new Magnagate mode. This is where the 3DS’s AR functionality comes in. When the 3DS recognizes a round/circular object, a “Magnagate” opens. The dungeon, objective, and Pokémon team that results from this Magnagate is completely random, thus giving you an infinite number of adventures to explore.
Enough of all that gameplay stuff! As mentioned previously, Gates to Infinity is the first Pokémon Mystery Dungeon title to be in 3D. You may miss the pixels of the previous games, but I think the bright, beautiful graphics of Gates to Infinity will satisfy you just as much. The animation is also impeccable and amazing. There are plenty of awe-inspiring moments in Gates to Infinity that will make your jaw drop.
All of this comes together in a rather big package. Just completing the main storyline alone will take you a good 20-30 hours or so. On top of that, you have the construction and perfection of your Paradise, recruiting all the available Pokémon, the post-game story, mini-games, Magnagate mode, and DLC dungeons. I say that’s a rather hefty amount of content that’ll certainly keep you busy!
For all Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity does right, it still isn't going to scratch the itch that most standard Pokémon games do. Its repetitive nature will put off many, and its removal of features from previous games will turn fans away. Then, of course, there are issues like the incompetent AI. Gates to Infinity has a lot to offer, though, and I think it deserves a fair chance. I spent a lot of time with it and loved it. So, give it a shot if you’re a hardcore Pokémon fan! You just might like it, too.
+ Plenty of features that offer hours of gameplay
+ Beautiful graphics and animation
- Player character selection is limited and there are under 140 recruitable Pokémon
- AI teammates are dumb as bricks
Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10)
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity probably won’t appeal to many fans of the series. If you really enjoy dungeon-crawlers, however, I definitely recommend giving this title a chance.
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