Review by The Retro Goat
"One step forward and three steps back to a huge degree..."
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity is the third generation in the Mystery Dungeon spin off, and the first one to involve the fifth generation of Pokemon. It is also a very changed game than the previous ones, and it's quickly grown a bit of controversy for it. It's the first Pokemon Mystery Dungeon game on the 3DS, and after this game, I'm a bit concerned for its future.
The story is the same, with you being a human who is randomly changed into a Pokemon, who after being found by another Pokemon, goes on a few journeys that will progressively turn into saving the world. It's the same exact backstory as the previous entries, and the rest of the story doesn't play out to change a huge deal. It's also gone back to being slightly more childish, which is arguably a step back after the dark plot of the previous games. It does get to be a bit dark when things turn bleak, but it doesn't give a rich story like the other games. One of my biggest complaints, besides the lack of an exciting plot, is how weak the dialogue is. For one, they absolutely refuse to use the word "die" or any similie to it. It's always "disappear" or "not moving" or my favorite, "Is he......" as opposed to actually saying dead. It's just annoying, and it doesn't help to enjoy the games story at all. Another dialogue issue is how characters just come off so wooden.Almost no one is particularly annoying, they just don't have much of a personality. There is one annoying character though, and that's Emolga. Emoglas attitude and personality can be best described as Scrappy Doo from Scooby Doo. Acts big and tough, but really just a big worthless joke. Unfortunately, you're forced to use the weak and worthless Emolga at certain points in the game for combat, but I'll get to that later. Overall, the story is just bland and unentertaining, and though it's never too bad or painful, it just isn't nearly as exciting as the previous games in the series, simply because any past player has already seen it all. There needs to be some change, instead of using the same formula over and over again.
They changed a huge amount of the gameplay aspect for this game. The most noticeable is that they took away one of the biggest draws to all of the Pokemon games: obtaining all Pokemon. This game uses Pokemon from the generation most recent prior to its release, generation five, which has a total of 649 Pokemon. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity has less than 140 recruitable Pokemon. The previous game had 491. This is a major step back, and not the only thing changed. The second major step back is changing how the player character is decided. In previous games, a quiz was taken to determine what Pokemon you were. In this one, you just choose. It takes away a bit of the fun, as the somewhat random deciding made the overall experience more unique. Also the only characters you can choose are the generation five starters, Pikachu, and Axew. Chalk it up to the amount of Pokemon removed from the game, and it's another factor to the lack of enjoyment that the series provided. The third and final huge step back is the removal to do multiple missions at the same time. In the previous games, you could do multiple missions as long as they were in the same dungeon. That's gone. No real reason, it's just massive padding. They also took away the hunger aspect, which was a common theme to the series. It may not be a bad thing that it's gone, but it's a big change. Those are the four drastic changes to the game. There are a few others, such as being able to level up moves so they can do more damage or have more accuracy, a nice change, but nothing as noticeable as the aforementioned issues. It's just plain bad, and without any reason besides possibly memory restraints. The one overall good change that this game gives is that every member gets experience now, including the party members that didn't go on missions. It's a nice addition, and helps make each character more use-able as opposed to just the Pokemon that you bring with you all the time. Still, one step forward and three steps back is no way to go, and it seriously affected this game in a very negative manner.
The game is fairly easy for the most part, but the difficulty is increased by things the game forces on you. For example, when the story is near progression you can no longer perform random missions for experience or money. The other thing that comes to mind in fake difficulty is forcing you to use joke characters in actual battle, which only results in you dying more often than you should. This is during story missions, which means you've got no choice but to go along with it for the main story. Aside from this, the game is pretty. There's never a balanced medium, it's always either too easy or too pointlessly difficult.
The game shines in the graphics department, to the point where I think the graphics are the reason so many Pokemon aren't in this game. The graphics are very impressive, with the Pokemon being displayed in full 3D models and the stages looking very detailed as well. Each Pokemon looks very detailed, and really shows progression over the years. It's all great looking, and possibly the best aspect about this game. The graphics don't have much room for improvement, and I'm interested to see how they'd improve upon them.
The soundtrack for the game is also nice, and while occasionally sounding a bit repetitive does still add to the overall experience in a positive way. It also does a good job of adding to the setting without being so loud and obvious that it takes away from any emotion the situation would have. The only real issue with them is that some of them lack any distinct quality, and is just standard background music. As for the sound effects themselves, they're growing more varied with how the moves sound. Each one sounds like an actual sound effect, such as a fire attack actually sounding like fire instead of a crappy imitation. Not saying they sound like real life, but they're not meant to. The sound is really good, and they're improving more and more with each game.
Replay Value- Slim
There isn't much to do with this game once you've beaten it, as there are no special missions to complete after the game is beaten. Another change from previous games, but I digress. Due to the relatively poor story, it's not one that's fun to beat multiple times either. The replay value exist, but only if you're really bored and want to try beating it with a different character. Overall, there isn't much reason to play this game after you've beaten it, nor is there much reason to beat the game multiple times.
Buy or Borrow?
You may want to borrow it to play a little, or try the demo, but I'd recommend against buying it. To each their own, and some may enjoy this game, but a majority of the longtime fans would not. As for newcomers, I highly recommend the last game set, as it's simply better. If you want to buy it, I seriously suggest testing it out in some manner before playing it.
All in all, the game is pretty bad. It changed far too much of the gameplay, and didn't change enough of the story. It's just burdened by needless issues that were non-existent in the previous games. This one had a great amount of potential, but it just fell flat, and it's unfortunately not worth the play. Here's to hoping that the next game, if it comes out, improves these issues otherwise this spin off will be doomed.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 04/02/13
Game Release: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity (US, 03/24/13)
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