Review by Manwithopinions
"A worthy sequel that removes some aspects but adds others in the process"
So the newest mystery dungeon game has sparked some controversy among the populace over whether or not the changes to the game are actually good. As a long time fan of this series, I judged this game based off of its new strengths and I actually came out likening it a whole lot. Although some of the omissions are rather strange, other new additions are a breath of fresh air and I feel overall the changes are good. With that being said, let's get on with the review.
If you have already played the last 2 PMD games, then you already know how this game plays out because it's exactly the same plot. Well, not really. You are a human turned Pokemon after receiving a distress call from a Pokemon in your dreams. You then fall out of the sky and somehow survive quite a nasty drop where you meet your partner whom you get to choose which pokemon he (or she, although you cannot give your Pokemon a sex this time around) is. Your partner buys a barren land from a pretty quirky Quagsire and from there you help him (or her) build a Pokemon paradise. Later as the story developes you learn your role in this world which later reveals you are meant to save the world.... Yeah it's the same plot as the last two but I'll ignore it as long as the rest of the story is good. One bad thing about the plot is that it has a very slow start. It may take a few hours before the actual story begins, but trust me it's worth it. I must say that the writers did an impressive job with the characters this time around. In short, this is the strongest cast of characters the series has had so far. Pretty much every character both important and supporting, have both characterization and noticeable development as well. The main character is a step up from the past two protagonists, largely due to the fact that he actually speaks in this game, and not just in his own mind like in the last two and speaks at the end, but he actually has opinions and readily expresses them to his fellow Pokemon. That really got me excited.
In the second game any interesting characters were either not part of your team, or just briefly join your team as part of the plot. This time you actually get quite a roster of story characters. And here is the best part, I actually had an incentive to take them with me on my missions! During certain story dungeons, the whole gang comes and you can pick which characters can join your party, sweet! To be honest, this game felt more like a Pokemon jrpg then a dungeon crawl because of this, which I actually liked if that's what was intended. I hope future installments have just as many interesting characters as this one! There are a couple of gripes I have with this plot though, like how there is no post-game after you complete the main story. All that is left is just building your paradise. I guess the developers felt it wasn't necessary, which is a shame, because without a post-game, I felt no need to continue playing. Also, the ending is too predictable to veterans of the franchise. I'll let it slide this time, but Chunsoft can't seriously keep making these endings forever, it loses its impact with repetition and I wouldn't mind a different ending for once. All and all, the story is still great and worth every penny in my opinion.
Great Scott, the soundtrack in this game is absolutely stunning! There are too many soundtracks for me to list here but the best one has to be the final boss theme, which is awesome, and rivals the boss theme from the last game! I can't really complain here.
Another knock out of the park! The jump from 2D sprites to 3D was what this game NEEDED badly. The animations are cool, the facial expressions match the static portrait the characters have during dialogue and real effort went into the environments of both the main town, and the dungeons themselves. This is triple A work here and just goes to show the developers put a lot of love into this. I just wish I had the same sentiments toward the gameplay.
And now we reach the controversial part of this game, the gameplay. Now, I personally don't care for the gameplay aspect, but most people want to know if the changes were good or bad, and the answer is both a yes and a no. For those not in the loop, Gates to Infinity is a dungeon crawler, namely you move about a randomly generated dungeon through a series of floors to reach an objective whether it is story, or a sidequest. The jobs vary between saving Pokemon, defeating outlaws, or finding an item, all of which are rewarded with money, and some items that go toward building your paradise. Actually this may be the game's strong point as the only incentive to going into these dungeons is to get materials to build your paradise which is kind of like a sim-city thing. You plow land and build facilities such as farms and dojos that strengthen your moves. Some facilities act as mini games as well, which is good if you're bored with the dungeon crawling. One omission this game has is the removal of hunger, which basically means your characters no longer get hungry during missions so you don't die and get thrown out of the dungeon. For some this is bad as it makes the game easier. If you hate dungeon crawling this omission may actually be better for you. I hardly noticed to be honest. Another "issue" is that the game only has 5 playable characters unlike the past games which had 16 and over 20 respectively, not to mention the number of Pokemon in this game only includes the 5th generation and a handful of others. Now the 5 character limit is an issue because this kills replayability, but unless you are one of those people who has to collect every Pokemon, the smaller number of recruitable Pokemon shouldn't bother you. I never really cared since the Pokemon were pretty boring and all I used were story characters.
One addition is the "team attack" which means after a certain period has past while in dungeons you eventually can use a devastating attack that nearly kills every enemy on the screen. This is useful for taking out Pokemon houses which is about the only time I ever used it. Also as you use attacks in the game they get stronger and allows you to use the attack more often. Finally IQ points are replaced with team skills that you can find inside treasure chests that you bring to a store to have them opened. There isn't much else to talk about really. They got rid of the personality quiz at the start of the game....Actually I'm glad they got rid of that. I loathed the prospect of starting another file in the previous two games because they made me do that stupid quiz which took like 10 minutes to go through. I just want to pick the Pokemon I want and get on with it!
The replay value depends solely on whether or not you want to experience the story again. Since there is no post-game, the only incentive to play the game again is to try new ideas with your paradise, but that's about it.
As flawed as this game is, get it anyway, because you won't experience a Pokemon game like this in any other spin-off. This is the closest the Pokemon series has to an actual emotional story and I want this game to sell well so another game can be made. I hope they make another one for G6 Pokemon and improve upon The ideas this game made. I don't care about the gameplay, I play this for it's story and it's just as good as Explorers of the sky. it's a worthy sequel to an already popular spin-off if only to keep you preoccupied until X and Y come out.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 04/16/13
Game Release: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity (US, 03/24/13)
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