Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon is the newest instalment in the best-selling Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series. Transformed into a Pokémon with no memory of your human life, over the course of the game you encounter hundreds of Pokémon, battle through countless dungeons, and ultimately try to save the world from destruction by joining the Expedition Society – a group of Pokémon dedicated to helping those in need.
Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon takes full advantage of the 3D capabilities of the 3DS; its improved graphics and 3D depth view make the game world both visually appealing and enjoyable. The number of areas available to be explored is vast; various continents, as well as both core and unlockable dungeons, mean that you never run out of jobs to do, places to visit or Pokémon to talk to. The game boasts the ability to meet and recruit all 720 Pokémon through the use of the ‘connection orb’, a device perhaps intended to parallel the Pokédex from the main series of Pokémon games. A variety of new features have been added to the in-dungeon screens, including a hunger indicator and the ability to view a type-matching chart – new battle mechanics in the form of the L+ABXY move selection screen and the alliance attack ability make gameplay even more strategy-based, and with enemy typing now being displayed when attacked as well, it is arguable that the game has even been made easier to beat than its predecessors.
That said, it does not mean that the game is easy to beat. With difficulty-ranked missions, increasingly powerful Pokémon in dungeons and tough boss battles, the story takes time and patience to conquer. It is not entirely unpredictable, but that does not stop it from being both heart-wrenchingly emotional and humorous. At several points players will find themselves laughing out loud at the simple humour and painful Pokémon puns (Farfetch’d saying ‘far-fetched’, for instance), crying at the friendships and connections between Pokémon (or is that just me?), and even holding their breath at what is going to happen next. Fans of the older games in the series will be delighted by the many references to the previous storylines, as well as the return of well-loved features such as the personality quiz (which determines what Pokémon the player should be) and the definitive dungeon sound effects. Many of the characters from the previous games are also available to meet and recruit, including the infamous Team ACT from Red/Blue Rescue Team and the fellow Guild Pokémon from Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky.
Super Pokémon Mystery Dungeon is, in my opinion, a brilliant game. The mechanics are well-developed, the storyline gripping and emotionally-investing, and the graphics superb in quality. The external features of the game, including the Pelipper Island rescue function, the jukebox, and the rescue helper StreetPass exchange, all help to create a well-rounded experience for any Pokémon fan. My only real criticisms are that much of the early game feels like one big tutorial, and the game as a whole feels like it is intended more for younger children – it may not appeal to everyone because of this, as the language and plot is quite simplistic. Overall, however, I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good story and a good challenge – the developed story and post-game ensures that you will be kept involved and busy with the game for hours.