In the modern era of remasters and remakes, I suspect we’re eventually going to enter an era where we’re just repeating the release calendar of the previous twenty years or so verbatim. We can even reuse the same marketing materials! It’ll be great! Kidding aside, I’ve mentioned a few times that I don’t mind remasters as much as some; if I enjoyed a game once there’s a fair chance I’ll enjoy it again. That’s definitely the case with Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX, a Switch remake of a beloved Game Boy Advance roguelike.
As with the original game, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX is a lighter and softer take on the classic turn-based roguelike dungeon crawler. You’ll explore randomly-generated dungeons, fighting wild Pokemon and collecting items along the way. If things go poorly and you’re knocked out, though, you’re booted out of the dungeon minus some items and cash, so caution is the way to go. Combat plays homage to the mainline Pokemon games, with a focus on aiming for the targets’ elemental weaknesses while covering your own. It’s an interesting take on the formula that works pretty well, all things considered. There’s even an asynchronous multiplayer component where you’re able to go on rescues for and be rescued by other players when danger approaches.
That’s all well and good, but this game originally came out in 2005 as Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Red Rescue Team and Blue Rescue Team on the Game Boy Advance. Chances are you’ve played it already and you’re interested in what’s new. Well, the biggest change lies in the graphical presentation, which goes for a hand-drawn look somewhat akin to later Kirby games. It looks pretty fantastic and makes for a relaxing rounded-corners experience. You’ve also got some gameplay rebalancing, such as a helpful auto-explore mode, special rare traits that can enhance your Pokemon and mega evolution, which we’ve largely left behind in the mainline games. It’s a nice revamp.
That said, there’s a few things that could have used a little more love. The fact that only the first three generations of Pokemon are represented is accurate to the source game, true, but it does mean that a sizable chunk of the cast isn’t present. You might find that some of your more modern favorites aren’t here, so a nod toward later generations beyond just adding mega evolution would have been nice. There’s also the fact that while there’s a plot and plenty to do throughout the game, most of the real fun comes in the post-story experience when you unlock some more difficult dungeons. That’s especially the case now that Pokemon tend to learn newer, more powerful moves from more modern mainline Pokemon titles. Experienced roguelike players may find the journey up to the endgame a little tedious.
Pokemon fans and players looking for a roguelike experience with a little less bite than the norm are in good hands, though. The Pokemon world and its gameplay mechanics are well-suited to a variety of genres. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX benefits from the depth and fun of its source material. It’s a little on the easy side for most of its run-time, sure, but once you’ve made some progress and the game’s willing to challenge you a little, you’re bound to have a great time with this one.