Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team
August 05, 2018

Iíve been hanging out with my old DS lately.

I love my 3DS, and one reason Iíve always loved it is that Nintendo does backward compatibility so well. It really does play DS games very well, in a way completely unlike how my XBOX 360 ďplaysĒ original XBOX games. Or, rather, claims to play original XBOX games.

But, Iíve only recently learned, it doesnít play them perfectly.

Iíd been playing Blue Rescue Team on the trusty 3DS (well, one of the trusty 3DSísÖ.) Iím not sure why, but at one point I plugged the cartridge instead into an old (little tiny) DS Lite. And I was stunned at how colorful the game was. On the 3DS, itís the colors are rather washed out. Huh.

Anyway, that bit of knowledge just allows me to be ever more a purist, and decide to play DS games only on a DS :) Iíd lost my DSi XL to someone I used to work with, along with my copy of Dragon Quest 9. Now, Iíve replaced both, with some judicious shopping on ebay. And I love it.

Blue Rescue team is the first Pokemon Mystery Dungeon game. Itís not quite as fancy as the later titles, but when Chunsoft created it, they unearthed a nearly complete idea of what the game should look like.

My favorite PMD game is Gates to Infinity. All the purists are screaming now, because thatís considered by just about everyone to be an inferior game. But it was my first, and you never forget your first girl, as they used to say in the beer commercial.

For those who DONíT know, the mystery dungeon games can be described in a few different ways.

1. They explore a world where humans donít exist. Only Pokemon. Humans, in this world, are only hypothetical creatures. Theyíve heard of us, but theyíre not sure they believe in us. You, a human, BECOME a pokemon and are transported to this world. When you begin a game, you take a little personality assessment; from there, the game decides which Poke you will be. I must have been in a fiery mood; it decided I would be Charmander. Then, you can choose a partner Pokemon that would be good support for that type. I chose Squirtle.

2. They feature great, emotional, feel-good stories. You usually end up crying before youíre done. At least I do. The overarching story usually has some big theme, where we learn a little bit about what it is to be human.

3. They are rogue-like dungeon crawlers. Each dungeon is made up of a certain number of levels, from 3 at the beginning of the game to way too many toward the end of the game. Each level is procedurally created, never the same twice. Once you enter a dungeon, youíre on your own. You have only yourself, your partner, any other Ďmons you might have invited along, and their respective skills to get you through. You only have the items you brought with you, or what you find on the floor of the dungeon. That would include healing items, berries to cure status ailments, elixirs to regenerate PP. You canít save until you exit the dungeon. Sometimes, the game drops you into randomly created scenarios that are pretty tough to extricate yourself from. Youíll want to be ready for a ďmonster house,Ē for instance, where 6 or 8 enemies show up in a room, and converge on you and your team.

Like any Pokemon game, each Poke has four skills. At various times, they can learn more, but one has to be forgotten in order to do so. Unlike other Pokemon games, though, each has just a regular attack that doesnít use any PP. And itís desirable to save PP for when you really need it. If you can surround an enemy and overcome it with regular attacks, thatís probably a good strategy, so that youíll have PP left for the more difficult enemies.

Also like other Pokemon games, each Poke has a certain element, and corresponding strengths and weaknesses to other elements. I donít believe, however, that the element system is so strongly in play as in the mainline games. My Charmander can hold his own against an Azumerill, where I would never ask him to in one of the mainline games.

Attacks are good in this game. Status effects are better. If you faint, itís likely because someone has zapped a confusion spell on you, or somesuch, and has taken you out while youíre reeling.

You can have up to a party of 4. Two or three is probably optimal, however, as youíll meet other Pokemon in the dungeon who, once defeated, ask to join your party. If youíre full up, you wonít be able to have them along. One of the points of the game, of course, is to ďcatch Ďem all,Ē eventually opening up natural areas in the game (with money you collect in dungeons) and filling them with Pokemon.

I beat the main quest of these game in a little more than 30 hours. Thatís a pretty languorous playthrough; Iím sure it could have been done much more quickly than that. And, thereís a hefty postgame too.

This game was released with Red Rescue Team. Red Rescue Team, however, isnít a DS game, but a Game Boy Advance game. This DS game suffers a bit for that, I think, as the second screen isnít utilized as well as it might be. You have options for what appears on the second screen, but none of them seem really necessary, or integrated into the game very well. If you want a complete experience, you might go for one of the ďExplorersĒ titles, also on the DS, or one of the 3DS titles.

In any case, if you like Pokemon at all, I encourage you to play one of these Mystery Dungeon games. They scratch a different itch than the mainline games, and have their own pleasures.

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