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Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon Review

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The Pokémon Dungeon series has had a few issue in the past with regard to gameplay appeal and an overall lacklustre experience. Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon unfortunately proves, yet again, that the series needs a serious reboot. Although the game is an improvement on the previous title, Gates to Infinity, it still fails to impress on various levels.

The game’s story drags along in its early hours, with way too much dialogue to keep you intrigued for longer than 3 hours, and not much going on in terms of its flashy Pokémon aesthetics. Saying that, the game does pick up later on, after the long tutorial phase. What is the he most striking thing about all this, is that after countless games, the studio still believes that players need a good 3 hours to learn the ropes. Mainstream Pokémon games lack any sort of tutorial thanks to its long-running fanbase, so this should be no different.

Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon Review

Essentially, you awaken as a Pokémon and after a series of events, find yourself in a Pokémon village where the early hours of the game takes place. Various Pokémon befriend you and you come into contact with some rather memorable characters that have way too much to say. After a couple of hours the game does settle down, although you will get the odd tutorial shoved down your throat every now and then, but its eases up and lets you actually play the game.

The game follows the traditional Pokémon Dungeon gameplay. You wander around a procedurally generated dungeon coming into contact with enemies whom you face off with in a turn based combat sequence. Re-entering a dungeon because you died, will put you back into it with a complete new re-designed layout, although the look and feel of them are basically the same.

Your main objective of each dungeon is to find the stairs and move onto the next floor until you get to the end of the dungeon. You fight a set selection of Pokémon per dungeon, and at times you just want to get to the end but have to face off against Pokémon that you have fought for the thousandth time.

The battle system has been improved on since the early games and actually has some appeal to it. You can now attack at certain ranges depending on the attack you have per Pokémon, and certain attacks do more and less depending on the type of Pokémon. You also get various items which help you in the dungeon, both in combat and out of combat. Increasing the attack of your Pokémon, or revealing the location of the stairs, saving you the grind to get there. All this is important as it really saves you the grind after you start hitting dungeons that have double-digit floors. Battles are balanced, but at times the difficulty will spike, pitting you against a boss that is way too strong for his own good. This will force you to re-look at your battle strategy and sometimes force you into cheap tactics to get the job done.

Your Pokémon that you “catch’ are actually now recruited by completing a set number of missions which are rather tedious trails, that at first are refreshing, but then just become dull and tedious. Saying that, this Expedition Orb is a nice change from the recruit system that was in the previous games and allows for all 720 Pokémon to become part of your team.

In the end Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon has improved on the old formula, but has so much left to do that it might never achieve its goal. After a dozen hours, dungeons started to look all the same and combat just felt boring and tedious. There was very little that actually made sense of wanting to come back for more, and I love Pokémon, but the sheer repetitious gameplay was just frightening.

Review contributed by Marco Cocomello 

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