Have you ever wondered what it would be like to become a Pokémon? Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX lets you live out such a dream, where, after answering a quick personality test, you are given the chance to brave perilous dungeons with many of the pocket monsters that continue to inhabit our screens.
This Spike Chunsoft-developed dungeon-crawling adventure is actually a faithful remake of the original Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team on Game Boy Advance and Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team on Nintendo DS. Once released in the frenzy of excitement that led up to Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl’s launch, you can now work hard to recruit your rescue team on Nintendo Switch for the first time.
The gameplay experience that you can expect is hugely different from your recent escapades across the Galar region. After choosing your Pokémon – whether that be determined from your answers to the personality test or your own eventual choice – and your partner Pokémon, you take a courageous leap through a portal into the world of Pokémon.
Waking to discover that you have been turned into a Pokémon, it isn’t long before a Butterfree interrupts your conversation with your newfound partner Pokémon in a panicked response to her baby Caterpie falling into a nearby cavern. With the Caterpie too young to crawl to safety by himself, you offer your help and, with that, venture into your first Mystery Dungeon.
You explore these ever-changing labyrinths from an isometric perspective, with their layout and the items that they contain changing every time that you warily tread inside them. After escorting the traumatised Caterpie safely out from Tiny Woods, your partner Pokémon – which was an easy choice in Psyduck for me – asks whether you would like to form a rescue team. And so, your heroics begin.
Each morning, a Pelipper will deliver post to your mailbox. Your first delivery is a Rescue Team Starter Set – complete with a Rescue Team Badge, Toolbox, and an issue of Pokémon News – but you will hope to receive a rescue job request to set out on. If the Water Bird Pokémon leaves you empty-handed that day, you can check out the Bulletin Board outside the Pelipper Post Office to see what other rescue missions the local Pokémon need help with. These requests can stack, meaning that you can complete multiple jobs in one Mystery Dungeon trip for greater reward.
The Pelipper Post Office is situated on the other side of Pokémon Square, an area that neighbours your Rescue Team Base that’s littered with shops to help you stock up before descending into the depths of another dungeon. You can deposit your hard-earned Poké – the in-game currency – with Persian at Felicity Bank for safekeeping, create linked moves at the Gulpin Link Shop, store unwanted items at Kangaskhan Storage, or restock your items at the Kecleon Shop.
Despite Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX being categorised as a spin-off, there’s more than enough strategy that underpins the experience as you work hard to compete with your rivals such as the Gold Ranked-Team A.C.T or the mischievous Team Meanies. For every single move that you make in a dungeon, your opponents will also make one move – whether that be movement or an attack. This isn’t as head-scratching as it sounds and you will soon fall into the game’s regular dungeon-searching rhythm, without the danger of the action carrying on without you if you become distracted at any point.
You will (unsurprisingly) need to choose the right team for the Mystery Dungeon that you are about to adventure into, making sure that you can once again expose type weaknesses to deal extra damage to the hostile Pokémon that you will be confronted with. There are standard status conditions to contend with like Sleep, Flinch and Confused, but others that will be less familiar to most such as Puppet, Stuck, and Terrified.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX continues to differentiate itself in other ways, such as allowing you to power up your moves as you use them – increasing in power, accuracy and PP – Wonder Tiles that you can step on to reverse negative stat changes, items like Stones and Seeds that you can throw at enemies, and befriending the Pokémon that you encounter. There are also team-boosting Rare Qualities to consider, like PP Pouch that sees you restore a move’s PP when an enemy is defeated or Notorious Healing that increases the rate that your team naturally recovers HP.
There is a chance that the enemy Pokémon that you defeat or the knocked out Pokémon that you heal in Mystery Dungeons will want to join your rescue team. But, you will need to spend your Poké at Wigglytuff’s Camp Corner to make sure that you have built the right Rescue Team Camp to house the different kinds of Pokémon that you meet. This is where nearly all your Poké will be drained, but it’s more than worth it to diversify the rescue teams that you can form.
You can visit your teammates in the Rescue Team Camps that you create, feeding them Gummi or items like an Accuracy Drink or Iron to improve their stats. There’s also the opportunity to change their nickname here or even send them back into the wild world of Pokémon to make space for other monsters. Your Rescue Team Rank will increase as you complete missions, which will increase how many Pokémon can stay at your Rescue Team Camps.
It’s a personality-packed adventure that awaits you in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX, and, between braving the Mystery Dungeons, I enjoyed the game’s more story-driven focus and melodramatic interactions between its many Pokémon. Even the watercolour-inspired art direction is a sumptuous choice, although the character models can often appear to be blurred in comparison – detracting from strong visuals that readily enchant, otherwise.
As with the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS before it, the game is a harmonious match for playing on the go. Whether on the bus, sat in the park or passing time at the airport, descending into a few Mystery Dungeons at a time is a great way to break up your time with this long and arduous quest. I found that repetition could soon set in during lengthier play sessions, and I certainly wish that there was more to do away from the dungeons that you repeatedly explore. But, those with an unrelenting enthusiasm for the genre and the powerful pocket monster brand will be able to push through.
It may see us return to an adventure that many will have first set out on nearly 15 years ago, but Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX is yet another remake with the right approach. Modernised for a new generation and a worthwhile upgrade for those setting up their Rescue Team Base for a second time, it offers an enjoyable team-bonding adventure for those looking for a different pocket monster experience on the plucky portable home console.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Nintendo