I didn’t enter Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon expecting much, honestly the series has been average at best so with Super Mystery Dungeon I came to the game to see what it offered. In the case of this game entering with little expectation has worked wonders, as I have been pleasantly surprised and will happily admit to having quite a good time. Of course there are things that bothered me but this game still came forward and presented me with a surprising amount of enjoyment.

Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon starts out a bit different to other games in this series, while still following overused routes you awaken as a Pokemon with no memory. While trying to piece something together you are suddenly attacked by a group of Beheeyem for an unknown reason, from here you meet Nuzleaf who is walking by and he becomes your ally for the first couple of levels. After escaping the Pokemon you find yourself living with Nuzleaf in Serene Village where you are enrolled in school and meet the Pokemon that will be your partner through this adventure. From here you get caught up in many mysteries and issues that you will have to face.

Starting Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon I honestly didn’t know what to think to begin with, the game follows traditional ideas that are growing tiresome and repetitive in the form of the amnesic protagonist. Following this the story seemed to take a while to pick up, and honestly where the original games had that something special close to the start of the game with your characters I didn’t feel that here, at least not at first.

It took a while but eventually the game begins to fall into place and the story really builds up, for obvious reasons I will avoid going into detail but at least ten hours in the plot begins to get really interesting. Along with this the familiar elements of the storytelling I love in these games began to appear helping me to become invested, I think it is unfortunate that the story does take so long to find its footing but honestly it was worth it in the long run.

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Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon is certainly interesting, coming into this I really expected I would be encountering more of the same. This was a feeling I had playing both the Rescue Team games as well as the Explorers games before, they were certainly good but they felt off and like I was doing the same thing. Honestly this is true in general but for some reason I felt different playing this game, things are still very similar to the other games but yet this game is refreshing, there are enough changes and ideas that keep this game feeling different which I really appreciated.

One of the biggest things for me was how the game opened, like past games who you play as is chosen by a series of general quiz questions, I am going to outright say this but the game is clearly targeted towards children based on the more school based questions. After answering the questions your answers are calculated and you are given your character except there is a change here, unlike past games where you would lie to try and get a certain Pokemon, in this game the chosen Pokemon is just a recommendation. There is a wide range of Pokemon to choose from so it was nice to see the option there although I simply went with the Pokemon that was recommended to me.

In addition to this another feature I really liked was that the game also picked out my partner, using the questions that you answered the game attempted to pick out the partner character that would best suit me. I liked that the pressure was off when it came to choosing although I didn’t quite follow the recommendation, instead when the game suggested the fire type Torchic to be my partner (this was my character in Blue Rescue Team) I opted to just choose a different fire type Pokemon. I have to say though that I really appreciate both options as it makes the experience both easier and also more personal.

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Refinements have been made to Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon which improves the overall experience from past games, these little improvements make the game that much better and really a step above anything that has come before. The big improvements consists of an upgrade to the battle system, in this game we have been given the ability to form alliances, these are simple and task you with choosing moves for each member of your team and with it deliver a devastating combination attack. These moves add a lot to the traditional gameplay and offer new layers to the strategy and team effort, they actually helped me out in a number of different battles.

In addition the game also adds a new feature in the form of Looplets and Emera’s, these items are used to add additional bonuses to your Pokemon that assist in multiple ways. Looplets for starters come in many forms and each one comes with its own sets of abilities and varying assortment of slots for Emera’s. Emera’s on the other hand are random items you find during your time in dungeons and will not leave with you, basically by placing these items in a Looplet that is held by one of your Pokemon you add multiple abilities based on your chosen ones. These come down to abilities such as revenge where you have a chance to put an enemy to sleep or even warp them away, or at times they add power bonuses, all of these come in handy and add a real new balance to the tired gameplay.

Unlike Gates to Infinity (the previous game) all Pokemon have been included in this game, so that means over seven hundred of them. This number means we have plenty of allies in the game and plenty of variation in terms of Pokemon to encounter in the dungeon. In addition the game even includes the mega evolved forms of Pokemon that really adds to the variety and posed a challenge on many occasions.

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The game plays out in standard Pokemon affair, the rock, paper, scissors style of gameplay that makes up the Pokemon franchise. For starters though you have to learn to navigate the dungeons which all run a grid based system, essentially like a Pokemon battle you make a move then everyone else does. Eventually you will come across a Pokemon who you will often need to battle, this is where the standard Pokemon gameplay comes into effect, you attack or move your character and the opposite Pokemon will do their turn. The gameplay is quick paced which I appreciate but it is admittedly tedious and you will find yourself completing the same task on numerous occasions, still it is surprisingly deep in certain parts and even enjoyable in a way.

One of the complaints I made with past games in the series is that the dungeons are repetitive, after a short while they seem to just blend and really just feel like I was doing the same thing in repeat. I can argue that this is still true here, dungeons are still very much the same, however one addition in this game did make me happier to explore dungeons. Throughout the main story and beyond there are multiple dungeons across varying continents, the best part is that while some of your side missions take place in dungeons that you have explored multiple times, others have you exploring fresh dungeons. I really appreciated that the game was full of dungeons to explore, they still feel similar but with multiple ones available throughout the game I rarely felt bored.

Another thing I really liked was the rescue feature, this is part of all previous mystery dungeon games where you could go and rescue other players or have them rescue you. Admittedly I was never a fan of this feature in the previous games, in fact I felt it was extremely pointless to those who didn’t really have friends around. Though I do really like how the feature was improved in this game, now rather than calling in someone else to save you the game offers you multiple chances to send in a team of your allies to save you from the dungeon. This made things a lot easier and really made the rescue system actually matter for me, I also liked being able to raise my additional Pokemon in this matter by sending them in to rescue. This does raise further issues for the game however when you do need to drag yourself through the dungeon multiple times to rescue your other team.

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As a further extension to the gameplay I also appreciated the new recruitment system, you no longer can get members while you explore dungeons, but instead you gain allies by completing specifically requested side missions. You have a gadget that is received during the story that allows you to access missions given by other Pokemon, these feature multiple types and upon completing their objective you can gain the Pokemon you helped as a partner in additional side missions and rescue quests. This does make it easier to get allies then in past games but I liked that you earn them through a connection method by helping them, of course to balance this you can’t always rely on certain members as occasionally you will be told that a member is unavailable for a reason which forces you to rely on other members. This overall means the game finds a good balance and forces you to not just use the powerful Pokemon on missions.

After both the rescue team and explorers games were good in terms of story but felt off in other places I really didn’t come expecting much from Super Mystery Dungeon. For better or for worse the issues of the previous games do still take effect in the latest game, however they don’t define what it is, the new inclusions along with slight changes in overall decisions do help this game shine. If you hated the previous games and found them boring then nothing will change your mind, but if you found the previous games average and somewhat enjoyable then Super Mystery Dungeon has plenty to offer. This game is the franchise at its peak, and I am really glad that I decided to give this one a go.