Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team Review for GBA

On: GBA

The latest instalment in the phenomenally successful series.

Review Verdict Read Review
7Out of 10
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It's Pokémon, but not as you know it.
It's Pokémon, but not as you know it.

It's Pokémon, but not as you know it.

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon is not, strictly speaking, a Pokémon game. It is a Mystery Dungeon game. Chunsoft has been developing these simple little dungeon crawlers for years now. Usually they use either Chunsoft's own, Dragon Quest or even Final Fantasy characters, and consequently their appeal is limited outside of Japan: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon is the only one other than the PlayStation's Chocobo's Mysterious Dungeon and its sequel to be released elsewhere. These, then, are absolutely nothing like the usual Pokémon handheld games. Just so you know.

Consequently it would be rather unfair to directly compare Mystery Dungeon to the likes of Diamond and Pearl, as it would inevitably come out worse. It's what is known as a 'roguelike' - that is, it uses many of the elements first popularised in the famous 1980's ASCII-graphic dungeon crawler, Rogue. Such games are unique in their randomly-generated dungeons and characteristic turn-based movement. When you take a step, every other enemy in the dungeon also takes a step; so whilst Mystery Dungeon might seem to operate in real-time, it is actually a turn-based adventure at heart. Of course, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon differs from traditional roguelikes in that it puts pretty graphics in place of the traditional symbols and letters and actually uses sound, but in all other respects it is a very old-fashioned soul.

Both versions of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon are exactly the same (Blue on DS, Red on GBA), save for Blue's extra screen (which is put to fabulously innovative use as a map display) and the customary few differences in the selection of Pokémon. They begin by ascertaining, via a non-threatening little personality quiz, which of sixteen Pokémon you get to turn into for the duration of the game. Waking up as a Pokémon in a world without humans, the player discovers that a series of strange natural disasters are causing considerable bother in this parallel universe, and with the help of your chosen rescue team partner (don't choose Charmander, he's a complete wimp), you'll delve into random item-peppered dungeon after random item-peppered dungeon in pursuit of Pokémon in need of aid. The actual story involves getting to the source of these natural disasters and, in the process, finding out exactly why you became a Pokémon in the first place. And a charming tale it is too - it incorporates all of the warm and fuzzy themes of friendship, hard work and perseverance that we're used to from Pokémon in all its various iterations.

Beyond completion of the main story arc, the game stretches out almost to infinity. You can continue to accept jobs from Pokémon in need of aid, which are posted on the adorable little Pokémon town's notice board, until you reach the top Rescue Team ranking (which would take at least forty hours), you can continue to follow other little story arcs that appear after the main one has reached its end, and, of course, you can continue to 'collect' Pokémon. This is a rather random process. Occasionally when you defeat a Pokémon in a dungeon, it will be sufficiently impressed to want to join your rescue team, and providing that you have bought a suitable place for it to live (grass Pokémon like jungles, Steel ones power plants and mountainsides, and so on and so forth), they will then be available to take out on the next randomly-generated adventure. However, given how random the Pokémon-collecting is, and just how many of them there are now, I doubt that anyone would want to pursue the full complement.

There is a more pressing reason why very few people would want to spend enough time with Pokémon Mystery Dungeon to fully exhaust it, though, and that is its unrelenting repetitiveness. Every single mission in the game is the same: go down into a dungeon, defeat enemies, collect items and repeat. It quickly becomes a bit of a grind, especially as the complex interplay between Pokémon moves and types has been greatly simplified and no longer has much relevance as to what's going on. All you ever do is use your strongest or second-strongest attack, and try to prevent your useless teammates from wandering off and/or dying.

Some would say, though, that Mystery Dungeon's gameplay is old-fashioned, simple and therapeutic, rather than repetitive and basic. Anyone with an established affection for roguelikes (apparently there are a lot of you) and even the slightest liking of Pokémon will really enjoy this. And ultimately, I did too - played one mission at a time, Mystery Dungeon's old-fashionedness in the context of the adorable setting is charming, and you can't fault it for a lack of longevity. Pokémon Mystery Dungeon is essentially a very Japanese game; its methodical and repetitious gameplay might seem unappealing to us, but there is a lot going on beneath the surface if you've the inclination to look for it. Or, indeed, if you really, really like Pokémon.

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9 Comments

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rafael's Avatar
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rafael

ho good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!lets go picachu
Posted 18:40 on 02 September 2008
Pokemonftw's Avatar
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Pokemonftw

This review is not only stupid but far away from precise pokemon red rescue team is a rpq there is no stop to the fun and how can it get a 7?.This game has incredable debt and incredable graphics and hey the sound is about a 9.5 its just so clear! so next time write a review thats actually worth reading!
Posted 12:52 on 06 April 2008
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Pretzel

Do you know who your screwen with???People put tons of work in to making this wonderful game and you just dis it like WTF is your problem?I would give it A 10!!Its the best of pokemon!
Posted 05:34 on 04 July 2007
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Alex Moore

the person who wrote the review is a nutter!Charmanders are not whimps (i was one from the questionaire)and the pwn
Posted 12:56 on 03 April 2007
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mario

is dis game borin or anythin is it oldashiond? lol coz my friends got it like 5
Posted 16:51 on 24 January 2007
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Lilloverpokemo

FINALLY. Something other then playing the human (Well, OK, your charrie is human, but it's a pokemon at the moment.). I found this too much fun to let go of. The best so far..... Unfourtunatly, most games now are coming on DS. Pity.
Posted 01:02 on 08 January 2007
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manu123@ Lolly K

I think that they must put an image of deoxis next to its rescue team. and all pokemones recruited legendary stops to if to be able to confirm if mysterious world bleats the pain to play pokemon
Posted 14:29 on 11 December 2006
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JK@ Lolly K

Pokemon have exhausted their gameplay. I mean red,blue,yellow were awsome nobody had seen anything like it then their came Gold,silver and crystal sure a sequel with a little changes. Then they brought out sapphire, ruby and emerald(which i think were the best because they updated it loads) but then came leaf green and fire red which i think is going well to far. Its just the same story you get a pokemon,train,battle.soo boring.And i mean who plays pokemon anymore
Posted 20:18 on 22 November 2006
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Lolly K

I think youve been a little harsh on the people which created mystery dungeon.I mean all you do on the other games is raise pokemon, battle gym leader, train pokemon, battle gym leader and its done just fine on EVERY game so far!
Posted 18:02 on 15 November 2006

Game Stats

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team
7
Out of 10
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team
  • Adorable
  • Old-fashioned
  • Deceptively long-lived
  • Extremely repetitive
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 10/11/2006
Platform: GBA
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Adventure
Rating: PEGI 3+
Site Rank: 1,129
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