Story by Carlos Hermandez, Staff Writer
Photo Credit: playbuzz.com
Since its debut in the mid-1990’s, Pokemon has been a dominant force of gaming for people all over the word. Because of this massive popularity, it is only natural many sequel games be released.
Now, there are people who pick Pokemon Snap as their favorite spinoff or love the Pokemon Ranger games, but for me, I would have to say my favorite spin-off is the Mystery Dungeon series. I fell in love with this sub-franchise the moment I heard of the concept. Blue Rescue Team was even the first Nintendo DS game I have ever purchased. I share so many fond memories of these games, they are a part of me. Every game, I start out as a Treecko named Eddie with a Totodile partner named Colin. Together, we are Team Find’em.
So, that is the perspective that will be presented today. I have little experience as a reviewer and do not consider myself as an avid gamer, so I will admit my review style is flawed. So for this article, think of this less as a review and more of a personal response. Anyway, at the risk of more delay, let me introduce you to the fourth installment to the Mystery Dungeon series: Super Mystery Dungeon.
On Saturday, November 21, I purchased my copy of the game and immediately started playing. Right off the bat, I was a bit disappointed to not hear the Mystery Dungeon (MD) theme I have grown used to, but that is a minor nitpick. The game immediately made up for it by allowing me to pick my partner as opposed to soft resetting until I got my Treecko. Granted, I believe Gates to Infinity did this as well, but you only got an option of 5 starters, so it is a better experience here.
There may be a few spoilers, but I will make them as vague as I can so I do not ruin the story. The first huge difference in this game is the introduction to the idea that you and your partner are literal kids-not human kids, obviously-but Pokemon that are probably are around 10 years old if Pokemon ages functioned like human ages. This is a refreshing angle I have not seen before in this franchise and immediately separates this game from the other games for the better. Because of this, you are required to go to school by your caretaker (in my case, Nuzleaf) and have lessons centered around mechanics of the game. Because of some of the newer features of the game like alliance attacks and looplets, this is a rather ingenious way of making you go through tutorials without all the tedious boredom and lack of benefits.
Speaking of alliances and looplets, that reminds me of another way this game improves on the other games. This game is actually pretty challenging. Here is where I must make a confession. All the other games I beat relatively quickly (I mean, 5 days or so), but here-at least for me- the game play is difficult to the point where It took me a couple of weeks to beat it. Unlike other games, you can no longer rely on body chucking your opponents, as that does 5 damage. Here, you have to be creative. Using your attacks, allowing your partner(s) to faint and carrying on, wands, orbs, and seeds (blast seeds are surprisingly strong). Even introducing the feature of other Pokemon leading the expedition when you faint gets difficult when they are about as strong as you are.
The story in this game is fairly decent. It is similar to Gates in certain areas and may not be as potent, but it uses elements of Gates’ story and works with them a little better. There were a few twists I did not see coming, some of which were interesting choices. And may I add LOTS of Deus ex Machina. Keep in mind this only happens when it needs to, it is still fun to shout “DEUS EX MACHINA, SUCKAHS!” whenever your butt is saved by a legendary.
The characters are kind of stock, especially at the school where you have the good seed (Deerling), the Punk (Pancham), his second-hand (Shelmet), the ‘fraidy cat’ (Goomy), the stick-in-the-mud arrogant vice-principal (Watchog), and overly-understanding principal (Semipour). In contradiction to that, however, you do have a good, genuine relationship between your partner Pokemon (who is also your next door neighbour) and his adopted dad (Carcosta). They seem to have a strict dad-troubled kid relationship and it really works. Anytime those two interacted, it seemed genuine and reminded me of families I know.
With all this in mind, how does it hold up to the other games? Well, I have not gotten far into the post-game, so I cannot say how it looks as a whole, but looking from a main story standpoint, I think it holds its own fairly well. The game play is challenging enough, the new way of recruiting Pokemon is a lot more organized than ever before, the difficulty is more balanced and it takes chances that pay off despite trading them off with traditional game play mechanics. I think it holds a candle to the Explorers era at least in that sense.
About the Writer…
Carlos “Eddie” Hernandez is a fourth year student at Aquinas and has been writing for the newspaper for a year and a half. He is an Acting and Music Major and is also a member of AQPB. His hobbies include ponies and Pokèmon. Other hobbies include eating and sleeping.