Crossovers are not always a working idea, merging two franchises together can be a huge mess if done wrong, and on the opposite side they can be shining beacons of true brilliance when the combination works. However there are times that the games are somewhere in-between they work in some ways but in others they don’t quite go into full operation, in this case the combination of Pokemon with Chunsoft’s Mystery Dungeon franchise is an idea that works in places but is ultimately average.
What would you think if one day you woke up to discover you weren’t human? How would you feel? Well that’s what happens in this tale with you waking up one day to find yourself in a strange new world and to make matters worse you are now a Pokémon. This world comes as a shock to your character as you can’t believe what’s going on with disasters threatening this world and having no memory of being a human, and you’re being spoken to by a Gardevoir who is giving warnings and seemingly has something to do with your transformation.
The story is the highlight of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Blue Rescue Team and extends far deeper then I would have even imagined. The story puts a heavy focus on the bond held between the two main characters being you and whoever you choose as your companion, the game focuses heavily on the chemistry between the two characters and this creates some beautiful moments and an enjoyable story.
The stories heavy focus on the duo’s effort to help those affected by the disasters in the world drops them into a much deeper amount of problems, while also developing many deep and heartfelt moments that made me happy and eager to see every moment. It is rare that a game such as Pokemon can truly develop in a way that made me care for the characters and honestly this is what Mystery Dungeon did best, the game develops into many deeply emotional moments that connected me to the experience. It is the emotional story that drives the experience and many moments that simply push you forward simply to find the next burst of emotion, my partner character particularly was quite the emotional Pokemon and really made me care.
Namely this all comes down to the masterful writing which really is what pulls this game forward, the dialogue is excellent and at no turn does it falter during the course of the main adventure. It shares many emotional moments that made me happy, whether faced with a bad joke, the joy of Pokemon or the melodramatic adventure I faced throughout the main game. Blue Rescue Team is just fantastic in this sense and the well told story really pulled me through some of the more mediocre sections.
I was honestly surprised with how well the Pokemon gameplay transitions into the Mystery Dungeon format, the classic turn based gameplay is perfectly implemented and works well as you explore the games many dungeons. Just like standard Pokemon this is a game of one person attacks then others follow, and this all ties into how you move through the dungeon, if you move yourself directly in front of an enemy they can instantly attack, assuming you live you then can back away or counter with your own move. This works quite well, using the grid based system in the dungeons and being observant to all inbound opponents you can learn the beat ways to operate and ensure your team can attack foes first potentially saving your life. I didn’t think this would work so well but to my surprise the room for deeper strategy was always present, it never overshadows the traditional Pokemon games but does make a nice twist.
Granted this is still a Pokemon game so you will need Pokemon knowledge such as type advantages along with other key pieces to fully understand certain things. The combat system has almost been completely lifted from Pokemon with a heavy reliance placed on type advantages and operating strategies to take out enemies, in some cases this can even mean risking one of your team members just to hope they use a move that will deal with the enemy’s weakness. Still the combat system is decent and makes great use of the Pokemon systems building on familiar territory, while also leaving room for people to learn.
Of course for the combats strength it really does not deliver full justice when dungeons are just so excruciatingly repetitive. One thing I quickly realized is that you are doing the same thing over and over again in constant repeat, while dungeons live up to the promise of being randomly generated with set pieces moved each visit is still relatively the same which ruins the illusion. Each dungeon is pretty much just a palette swap on its floor and walls, and with a change in Pokemon that suit the dungeon. It is also made worse by the fact that floor layouts are virtually the same, sure the stairs may move but the general design seldom changes.
It’s not to say dungeons are bad though, sure they grow tiresome which is a problem but entering a new one does only provide a temporary illusion. It can be forgiven for this shortcoming as by nature this is a generic dungeon crawler and there are only so many combinations that can be produced, but the fact that a big part of the game has you returning to dungeons on repeat to do missions the real illusion wears off fast. Thankfully the change in Pokemon, items, and varying level changes that occur throughout the game do help keep things somewhat fresh even if it is not by much.
Another problem I found with this particular game is one that plague’s the standard Pokemon games which is post game content. Upon completion of the excellent story things just seem to die down, any real story focuses vanishes, the excellent character chemistry of my two characters is gone, and more importantly little guidance is actually offered.
There is certainly plenty to do after finishing the game, new dungeons are unlocked, you encounter new legendary Pokemon to deal with and there is a never ending run of rescue missions, but the story I cared about was just about gone. Constant nods are made to direction noting that I should head to certain locations but I noted by this point I had no real goal, and no real focus. There are odd story moments here but these points I never really grew to care about as much, and it seemed to me like they just forgot about really offering anything interesting to keep me going with the game just that little bit longer. There may always be missions, but I no longer felt any interest in continuing, in combination with the games other shortcoming I wanted to just finish.
A big part of Mystery Dungeon Blue Rescue Team involves going on missions, you are constantly bombarded with missions to accomplish, and there are a number of variations. There is the standard rescue a Pokemon which half the time did not make sense to me, deliver an item, and of course the dreaded escort missions. The latter missions are some of the most annoying things I encountered in the game, during these missions you are tasked with leading a Pokemon to its friend, and this Pokemon is only level one. On its own it is not so bad but this Pokemon constantly picks fights and is often defeated before I can even get back to it causing me to fail my missions, the AI in this case is stupid and I had no control of their actions which meant they would often fail my missions for me. The two other types are not so bad and only suffer from the games general issues which in all honesty I could somewhat forgive, even though I did not want to do them half the time.
The game offers many varieties of Pokemon for which you can possibly play as, from fan favorites like Charmander and Pikachu, all the way to Psyduck. According to the game each Pokemon has a different nature depending on your gender and this leads to how your characters gets chosen, if I was given the choice of who I wanted to be in this game I think I would have spent a month just on the screen talking to myself, instead this game gives you a quiz to decide who to play as. The quiz is simple the game gives you a selection of randomly chosen questions and asks you to answer honestly to decide which Pokemon you will play as, the questions are interesting even if random and don’t really answer to me why I am a Torchic, or why I would have to say I am a girl to play as a Chikorita. Either way the whole quiz idea took the pressure away which honestly I didn’t mind, there would be no right choice in this game anyway so the random quiz takes the pressure away even if it never seemed to really do much to determine who I am as a player. It is still a decent feature although average at best as far I am concerned.
In terms of Pokemon availability this game includes all the Pokemon that existed during the time of release (meaning the first three generations), the Pokemon in the game are used to great effect, whether it be legendries as tough bosses progressing the story, or the random assortment of Pokemon constantly available throughout the game. Each dungeon during the story seems to include a wide assortment of varying Pokemon and rarely seems to cross to using the same ones multiple times, this is something I liked however it was not all good. During the game you can recruit Pokemon to be part of your team, you can take Pokemon you recruit on missions and use them to help in a dungeon, and this however leads to many frustrating points.
One of my biggest issues was the awful friend zone requirements, throughout the game you will need to go to a shop in the main area to go and purchase new friend areas. It is not until you unlock certain areas that specific Pokemon will ask to join your team making it more annoying than it should be to unlock new allies. This ties in with the awful recruitment system which I was often frustrated by, it was rare a Pokemon wanted to join my team and it shows how low the chances of recruitment in the game really are. Finally to unlock a recruit in the game you need to ensure that the Pokemon you recruit make it out of the dungeon without fainting and this is not always an easy task and is honestly just more annoying than it is really worth.
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Blue Rescue Team has numerous shortcomings, it is impossible for me to argue against that, however this is a game where I tolerate the weakness in order to the games strengths and that case there is some good here. The games story was surprisingly remarkable and the Pokemon gameplay tied in excellently with this games format, I don’t know how I will forget this story anytime soon, but even still this game may shine and shake on various occasions but the game is still ultimately average. There is room for improvement but I don’t think you could pass up on this Pokemon spinoff it is an adventure worth having.