I feel like I’m nine years old again, and on a train to Chicago.
Highly specific, I know. But my mom bought my the original Red Rescue Team for that trip, so Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX is a memory brick to the face in the best of ways. Do you need some convincing, though? Well, let me help!
I am deadly serious about the joy I found in the nostalgia factor.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX is an outstanding example of a faithful remaster. This is not a new game, despite the introduction of a handful of new mechanics and Pokémon that didn’t feature in the original Red and Blue Rescue Team games. The story is familiar and a comfort, but it marches forward in a cozy new art style. As much as the pixel Pokémon of yore hold a special place in my heart, I fell head over heels for the storybook visuals this game gave me. Everything looks fuzzy, in the sense that you want to reach out and touch it (not that it’s blurry, since it’s anything but)! And it ups the cute factor of quite a few Pokémon to see them in the round in at last! Anybody else just want to gently squish Cyndaquil’s sweet little face?
But in all seriousness, I think it’s an outstanding revisit of the original. The story remains the same (yes, I still got teary at the ending of the main story), and the familiarity keeps it from feeling like an inaccessible, impossible to understand game.
As with most mystery dungeon games, though, the beauty lies in the mechanics.
Since mystery dungeon games are strategy-based at heart, good graphics and a solid story do a lot of the visible work, but mechanics do the true heavy lifting. I loved the updates made to quite a few of the game’s functions, as they really improved on the limited offerings of the originals. For instance, all dungeons you travel through during the main story show the complete floor map when you arrive on the floor. This feature isn’t available in the much more difficult post-game dungeons, but it paves the way for focusing on story before beating the main boss. It also makes it a lot easier to reach the bosses along the way in the story. In the originals, I remember struggling so much with simply making it to the boss, let alone beating them. Eliminating some of that frustration is a relief.
Useful features from Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon make an appearance as well. You can make alliances in this installment, which allows your entire team to focus specific attacks on a specific enemy all at once, and Mega Evolution returns through Empowerment Seeds (since Loops and Emeras aren’t available this time around).
And where other new features are concerned, I love the increase in number of Pokémon that can join you in a dungeon (you can travel with up to eight Pokémon, excluding any escort mission clients and including the initial three you bring into the dungeon). I’m also super enamored with Rare Qualities. From increasing HP recovery to boosting recruitment rates to raising stats, they’re outstandingly useful, and allow for different play styles. Personally, I prefer running a team that restores HP and PP at a faster rate, and making my third Pokémon one that boosts recruitment rates. Any I recruit from there are random, but that combination is outstanding for long dungeon runs.
The frustration also lies in the mechanics, however.
On the whole, I actually have very little about this game that I dislike. I wouldn’t have sunk 45 hours into it (before Animal Crossing took over my life) if I wasn’t having fun! But there are a couple changes made from the original that I can’t quite get over.
For one, Friend Areas are no longer the small, open roaming spaces. They function more like PC boxes with a grid of pixel Pokémon you can select. It’s certainly more organized, and it’s easier to find specific Pokémon you want to bring with you or boost stats for, but I miss the charm of actually walking up and talking to the Pokémon you were after. That always made them seem more like friends than strategic allies, and I miss it.
My only other major gripe is the removal of the neutral attack. In the olden days, pressing A would perform a weak neutral attack. You got half the usual experience for using it, but it was handy for weaker enemies or conserving PP when a enemy was on its last legs in front of you. Now, the A button selects the most effective available attack in your movepool, and the neutral attack does not exist. It’s made me extra conscious of how much PP I’m using, and a little bit frustrated as well. Longer dungeons become harder and harder as PP reserves dwindle, and boss fights? With the ability Pressure?
Well, at least Max Ethers and Elixirs are relatively common. Because of this change, I’d be toast without them.
If you’re considering picking up Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX, do it!
Overall, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX is a joy! If you played the originals or enjoyed the more recent PMD games, I can’t recommend it enough. Or, if you’re looking to get into the franchise, this is a great starting point! You won’t find the newer Pokémon (the original was released during Gen 3, and the only Gen 4 and beyond Pokémon added are those that evolve from Gen 3 and back Pokémon), but you will find cute graphics, a fun story, and endless hours of dungeon crawling.
It’s only available on the Nintendo Switch, and you can find more about it here, on Nintendo’s website! Plus, there’s a demo available, and if you purchase the full game after playing it, your save data will transfer over. No need to start from scratch!
I wish you all the best with your dungeon endeavors, friends. And hey, sometimes accidents happen. If you find yourself in need of rescue, let me know! I’m happy to roll my team out and rescue friends in need. Dungeons can be tough without a helping hand, after all. 💛