‘Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX’ – First Impressions (Switch)

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During this past week’s Pokemon Direct, Nintendo and The Pokemon Company International announced the upcoming release of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX, developed by Spike Chunsoft. Pokemon fans have not played a Pokemon Mystery Dungeon game since it’s time on the Nintendo 3DS. While the game does not release until March 6, 2020, a demo went live immediately that will allow players to transfer their saves to the full game upon release.

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX is a roleplaying game and spin-off of the core Pokemon titles. You are a human who miraculously turns into a Pokemon. Unfortunately, you do not know how you turned into a Pokemon and you have lost all memories of being human. The only thing you remember is the fact that you were human.

I was filled with nostalgia as I saw the title screen. I have not played all of the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games but I have quite a few memories of the ones I did play, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Blue Rescue Team and Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon. Pressing start, a bright light greets you and begins to ask you a few questions. These questions are different scenarios that will try to guess what your personality is and what Pokemon you might be. The game decided I was a sassy individual and chose Treecko, a grass type Pokemon. If you do not like your selection, you can press the B button and you can see the 16 Pokemon you can choose from, including several never before available as starters in a Pokemon game. After choosing your character, you get to choose a partner Pokemon who will aid you and become your trusted companion.

Pokemon mystery dungeon character select

After naming your Pokemon and partner, you are greeted by your new companion. You learn that you have been transformed into a Pokemon. Immediately I was awestruck by the 3D art and the way the Pokemon are drawn. The colors were vibrant and looked like a mixture of cell shading and watercolors. The background looks subtly alive, trees swaying, the outline of the trees swaying with the colors lightly dancing like water. Also, while talking, Pokemon’s faces can be seen in the dialogue bubble and you can see how each monster was designed with care. It’s a joy to see their facial reactions as the conversation moves along.

While Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX is a roleplaying game, it’s also a dungeon-crawling adventure. The goal of the game is to become the best Pokemon Rescue Team there is. You take jobs from different Pokemon and fulfill different objectives, leveling up yourself and each of your partners in your Rescue Team. In previous games, you could have a total of 4 Pokemon traversing a dungeon; however, in this demo, it’s just you and your partner Pokemon.

Your first mystery dungeon is Tiny Woods. You explore in a top-down, turn-based fashion. Each dungeon is randomly generated: the layout, items, and enemies always changing. The music is slightly ominous and adventurous, really putting you in the adventure. At the same time, it was quite peaceful, never getting me anxious about what’s to come.

As you continue playing through the first dungeon, you get a slight tutorial right before you do a specific action and you’re given tips. The controls are easy to understand and use. Whenever there is vocabulary you don’t understand, you can highlight the word(s) to see what they mean. For example, if a Pokemon uses Screech, my character and partner become anxious and inflicted with a debuff. The game’s glossary will tell me what being anxious does and how to remove this particular debuff. The glossary doesn’t only cover certain words and phrases when it comes to looking at your abilities. When you open your Toolbox where your items are held if there is anything you don’t understand, with a click of a button you can figure out what certain words and phrases mean. That’s extremely handy when you’re trying to figure out things on the fly!

In the mystery dungeon, combat is similar to the main games, where you take turns attacking. You have four moves that you can use a certain amount of times. You attack by pressing the A button and, from what I noticed, it uses the best move that does optimal damage or is super effective. My main character was a Mudkip, a water type pokemon, so whenever I fought an electric type and I pressed the A button, the attack that was used as a Ground Type ability. This is a major change from previous entries in the series where you used to have a generic attack if you pressed A that was separate from your four moves. If you want to be more strategic, with a combination of two buttons (ZL + A, B, X, or Y), you can pick whatever move you want to get the job done. Your partner attacks as well, however, placement counts. If I am in a corridor, my partner will be behind and can only act if it has an ability that can attack two squares ahead.

This makes you think about each step you’re going to take, which Pokemon to use, and which attacks to dish out. Also a change from previous entries, you and your partner don’t automatically switch places when you walk into them. You just push them. You also have to be careful outside of battle because dungeons are treacherous due to traps and getting hungry. If your hunger meter fully depletes, you lose HP (Hit Points) with each step you make. If you get knocked out or faint, you’re booted from the dungeon and all your money and items you have collected are lost. Eating an apple will cure you of your hunger.

I really enjoyed exploring the dungeons and battling enemy Pokemon. What I really enjoyed was the auto mode. With a click of a button, your pokemon team will walk and explore the dungeon for you seeking items and the exit to the next floor or exit of the dungeon. Your Pokemon will stop at the first sight of a Pokemon so you can act accordingly. This will make for easy exploration when you come to grind for items and complete jobs for the other Pokemon.

Outside of the mystery dungeon, I loved how lively Pokemon Square was. This will be the main hub of your adventure. You can see Pokemon walking around, you can talk to them, and the Square is littered with shops to help you along the way. I am excited to see what Pokemon will make an appearance in the full game and in, rather it be in the dungeons or Pokemon Square. Also, Mega Evolution Pokemon make an appearance for the first time in a Pokemon Mystery Dungeon game. Of course, being just announced we don’t know how that mechanic works but nonetheless it’s exciting.

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX launches March 6, 2020 on the Nintendo Switch. You can grab the demo in the Nintendo eShop.

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