Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX Releases!
While all eyes are clearly on Animal Crossing: New Horizons, undoubtedly Nintendo’s biggest March release, it’s not the only notable franchise arriving on the Switch this month. In fact, this very week the latest entry in the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon spinoff series lands on everyone’s favorite handheld/console hybrid in the form of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX.
A remake of the 2006 Nintendo DS/GBA tandem release Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team and Red Rescue Team, Rescue Team DX puts a modern spin on the portable classic with the addition of gorgeous visuals, a lush soundtrack, and updated gameplay elements.
A proto-roguelike from Japanese developer Spike Chunsoft, the Mystery Dungeon series is typified by randomly generated, turn-based dungeon crawls that challenge the player to carefully consider not only each attack but also each and every character movement. Anytime your Pokémon move, the dungeon’s defending enemies do as well, making for a uniquely engaging gameplay experience.
You Get To Be a Pokémon
Speaking of unique, just like its forbearers from the early aughts, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX forgoes the business of Pokémon trainers and gym leaders by instead placing the player directly in the shoes of a Pokémon. The game’s opening personality test is used to determine which of the 16 available Pokémon you’ve been transformed into, but fear not; if you don’t like your prescribed Pocket Monster, you can choose one yourself just as you choose your partner, your first friend in this strange new world.
As your character is revealed to be a human being who mysteriously wakes up in the body of a Pokémon, it falls to this partner to introduce you to this unfamiliar land, a strange place where likeminded creatures form Rescue Teams to aid Pokémon in need. A recent spate of environmental disasters has created mystery dungeons, dangerous and ever-shifting locations that you and your team will be tasked with delving to secure items, rescue stranded Pokémon, and solve the continuing mysteries of both your conspicuous appearance and the seemingly related upheaval to the natural order.
Making Friends & Enemies In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX
In true Pokémon fashion, the bulk of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX is spent making friends and battling enemies. Typically, a new rescue job becomes available via the Bulletin Board found in the Pokémon Square world hub, letters in your base’s mailbox, or various in-game narrative events, and you and your team are charged with achieving a specific objective from a growing selection of dungeon destinations accessible through the departure gate in the Pelipper Post Office.
You’ll plumb the depths, taking on wild Pokémon along the way, completing jobs to boost your rep by earning Rescue Points, and fleshing out your ranks with a wide variety of recruitable Pokémon. A strong, balanced team is key, which is where the classic move type system comes into play.
As you carefully and deliberately make your way through a dungeon, you and your cohorts will frequently approach (or be approached by) enemies. Once you’re in combat range, you can easily choose one of four base attacks by pressing ZL and then any of the four mapped face buttons. Rescue Team DX, however, has nicely refined the system, so just pressing the A button will automatically execute your best move on the current target.
Similarly, movement itself can be simplified by holding the L button, which will automatically pilot your Rescue Team in the most efficient manner around the current dungeon floor, automatically disengaging when you enter combat. If you’d instead prefer a streamlined but also more hands-on approach, you can hold B and press a cardinal direction (on the D-pad or analog stick) to bolt through narrow corridors or hold R to change to diagonal walking.
These new tweaks go a long way in alleviating the tedium of lengthy missions and help make an otherwise niche title much more accessible.
Obviously, loot abounds, with money (Poké) and items like berries regularly discovered in mystery dungeons and offered as rewards for completing specific jobs. However, if your character falls in battle, anything carried will be lost. Thankfully, the Felicity Bank, staffed by a particularly savvy Persian, can safely store your money.
Like the Pelliper Post Office, this amenity is available in the Pokémon Square hub, alongside Kangaskan Storage, which can likewise store your items, Makuhita Dojo for training, Gulpin Link Shop, which can tie two attacks together, and Kecleon Brothers, where you can buy berries, seeds, and even new moves in the form of TMs.
As Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX progresses, the jobs become more challenging, the game world becomes richer, and the plot—as it tends to do—thickens. In time, you’ll find yourself managing a base camp and a growing roster of allies while also dealing with the more pressing goals like keeping your active team adequately healed and fed within subsequent mystery dungeons—because being a hero is hungry work.
Bottom Line: A Gaming Adventure Well Worth Taking
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX is an oversized adventure in one tiny, tidy package, and I feel as though I’ve only really scratched the surface. Fans of the original will be pleased with the inclusion of new developments like Mega Evolved Pokémon as well as its simplified controls, brand new players will surely be enchanted by this human-free world that puts the whimsical, larger-than-life personalities of the Pokémon themselves at the forefront, and everyone can enjoy its gorgeous gouache and watercolor graphics and gentle, organic soundtrack.
Though the broader Mystery Dungeon series has numerous permutations and the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series is already 10+ releases strong, Rescue Team DX still manages to be its own thing. It’s unafraid to be cute and rosy—I can’t help but see it as the very antithesis of my other go-to Switch dungeon-crawler, Darkest Dungeon—but it’s equally unafraid to shake things up with a well-placed plot twist.
In short, even though it doesn’t include a Deserted Island Getaway Package, it’s still a gaming adventure well worth taking.
Review materials provided by Nintendo of America. This post contains affiliate links; I don’t care what that personality quiz says; I am a Bulbasaur!