Review by vy2012
"Not what it used to be."
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, a spinoff game series, is designed to provide a different type of gameplay to players around the world. This is a series in which you aren't traveling around the region getting the Gym badges, defeating criminal organizations, and becoming the Champion of the region. This is the Pokemon World, in which the world contains only Pokemon that can actually talk and interact with other Pokemon.
My first game of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon that I was playing at the time was Red Rescue Team that was given from my classmate. I experienced the need for survival while crawling various dungeons, hoping that my Pokemon can last until the very end of the dungeon. I feel that in every chapter of the game, I was able to accomplish anything. One year later, I got Explorers of Time from another classmate and the gameplay got even better and I decided to get Explorers of Sky which looks like Pokemon Platinum due to the expansion from Time and Darkness. I continued to enjoy crawling dungeons to recruit all the Pokemon I can find in each dungeons (492 Pokemons).
Then, in April 2013, Gates to Infinity was released worldwide, something I wasn't aware of due to having priority in college and work. I went to the local retailer to purchase this game and played it right away. I was thinking that the new Mystery Dungeon game would bring plenty on the table on top of Explorers of Sky.
And sadly, I was wrong. I thought Gates to Infinity would be able to surpass the capacity of enjoyment that I had with other Mystery Dungeon games. All I get instead is a cheap and watered down game that is trying to maintain Pokemon fans who like dungeon crawling. Red and Blue Rescue Team was their originality that had several concepts that would potentially make the game good; Explorers of Time and Darkness maintained it while following the saying If it's not broken, don't fix it; Explorers of Sky also maintained Time and Darkness while saying that If it's not broken, improve it; Gates to Infinity, unfortunately, falls into If it's not broken, fix it.
Because it isn't broken, doesn't mean that you should take away several features that would've been a staple in the past Mystery Dungeon games, otherwise there would be drastically different gameplay or no gameplay. I feel that the developers twisted everything upside down and tries to do cheap tactics in hopes that the title alone can attract other players.
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Red and Blue Rescue Team are the third generation equivalents to the games since the game contains Pokemon from Kanto, Johto, and Hoenn regions. These games are played on the GBA (Red) and the DS (Blue) and are released around 2005-2006.
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Explorers of Time, Darkness, and Sky are the fourth generation equivalents to the games since in addition to Pokemon from the Sinnoh region. Time and Darkness are released around 2008 while Sky was released in late 2009.
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Gates to Infinity is the fifth generation equivalent to the games which includes Pokemon from the Unova region. This game is released late March 2013.
*Note: some positive aspects in this game could be a double-edged sword, meaning it could be good and bad at the same time.
When I was playing Gates to Infinity, I was surprised by the sheer amount of differences between this game and the games before it. One of the surprising features is that the belly meter has taken down. That means that you have unlimited turns to explore the entire floor while picking up items and money before you proceed to the next floor. While other Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games pressures me to go as far as possible due to turn limitations (being at risk of being famished), this game has you exploring everything it has to offer before you decide to leave. Of course the gust of wind can still kick the Pokemon out from the dungeon, treating it as a defeat, but that is inconsequential since by the time the wind is blowing, you would already grabbed the items the floor has to offer.
Experience Point gains.*
Another feature that I saw is that all your team members will get experience points even if they are not battling (similar to the Exp. Share key item in Pokemon X&Y). Because of that mechanic, you can use different team members at a decent level in which you can viably use. Story wise, there are parts where you must use Pokemon while having limited options, but because all members earn experience points, your other team members that are required in the story can reach almost the same level as yours without having to waste time to grind Pokemon one by one, unlike the past Mystery Dungeon games.
Access of different facilities.*
This is probably the giant step up from past games. In Paradise, you got eight sets of land waiting to be built by a great Pokemon. Each land can hold four facilities, and since there are eight sets of land, you can build 32 different facilities that can help you in your adventure. Do you want to harvest items designed for healing and more staying power? Then build a Training Field, Oran Field, Heal Field, Reviver Field, and many more. Do you want to buy, sell, or exchange items? Then create a Berries and Seeds Shop, Swap Shop, and Oodles of Orbs shop. Do you want to make a Pokemon's attack grow stronger? Then make dojos of every type. There are so many facilities to build that will help you on your journey. I'm hard pressed to find a facility that doesn't help me, but then you can always destroy it and make a different one.
The V-Wave is a new feature in Gates of Infinity. At some point in your adventure, you'll be able to select your type if your roulette spin is successful. What the V-Wave does is to benefit a Pokemon's type that can greatly help a Pokemon in the dungeon. You get more power and experience along with two random benefits. The V-Wave may be responsible for some problem in which I'll talk later.
Following BW standards.*
Since this game is based on the fifth generation Pokemon games such as Pokemon Black & White, you would normally expect the spin-off to be similar to the main series. Sure enough, there are most Pokemon native to the Unova Region as well as a select few from past generations. Additionally, the TMs (Technical Machines that teaches a move to a Pokemon) have unlimited usage; you teach your Pokemon Smack Down for example and the disc never burns off.
Team skills is an equivalent of IQ, in which the entire team has skills that can overcome difficulties. Most skills that benefit an entire team and/or enemies can: raise evasion, display the entire floor layout, endure any attack that leaves the Pokemon with one Hit Point left, increasing critical hits on super effective moves, make opponent's attacks fail, detect Monster Houses and Kecleon Shops, and many more. Team Skills can be obtained by smashing Treasure Boxes. Gummies from previous games are removed entirely. Team skills may also be responsible for some problems.
This one offers true uncertainty in which there are effects that are beneficial or degrading to the team and the opposition. At some point after you finish the storyline, each dungeon has a level of mysteriousity ranging from 1 to 5. The higher the level, more strange things happens such as a floor with special tiles and distorting you to uncharted territory or golden chambers. Some floors may unleash a color wave in which blue means something good for our team, green means neutral, yellow means trivial effects, and red means terrible effects such as no HP healing or speed doubled enemies.
Mysterousity waves are something you can't fix or prevent them from happening, and some effects can mess up your entire team that would lead to a defeat due to something you can't do because of such waves. Just hope luck is on your side
Move growth is another unique feature in which you use an attack and eventually the move levels up, in which you get more power, usage (PP), and accuracy. All three can be improved by using manual scripts in which they raise a category even further. Any move can potentially have maximum power and/or max PP (99). In that case, even tackle and other weak based moves would be broken and overpowered due to move growth.
This feature is the one that I heavily abuse. On this feature, you can explore many short to long dungeons depending on the round object that you have. For example, I used the bottom of the soda cup as a means of a round object; the larger the circle, the longer the duration of the dungeon would offer. The largest amount of floors that I explored so far is twelve floors. There are more than 100 possible dungeons with decent to great items that can be helpful to your main adventure.
Overall, I was surprised by the vast amount of changes made to this game.
These are the flaws of the game that can't be ignored, even if it's a small one.
Taking one mission at a time.
Yep, the subtitle says it all. Basically, you cannot multitask missions, even if the mission in question is on the same dungeon on a different floor. I don't know why the game nerfed multitasking, but it seems to me that the game wants me to play much longer. When I multitask, I can get multiple missions finished and raise the team rank a lot easier (I reached Guildmaster rank in Explorers in Sky without much trouble). I could've spent my other time doing something else.
The story is the same and unremarkable.
Just like previous Pokemon Mystery Dungeon titles, you are a human who just become a Pokemon without a clue as to why you are brought to this world. I can't go any farther that would spoil the story, but if you already know what happens in the story due to the knowledge of past games, then you won't be surprised anyway. The slow text speed is also a minor problem since it is not adjustable.
Lack of difficulty.
Okay, this flaw is perhaps a serious flaw that I noticed not long after I started this game. Given that the belly checker has disappeared, Experience Points are given to every member on the team, the nature of how the V-Wave works, all the preparations due to using facilities that can benefit teams in any dungeon, traps on this dungeon only works once (some traps being inconsequential), team skills that benefit the entire team without drawbacks, the team attack gimmick which blasts all the enemies away even Monster Houses as well as extra effects which benefit the entire team, and move growth that makes an attack overpowered and broken, and you'll see that this game is not a threat at all. This game is terribly easy, it's ridiculous. Even boss battles mean nothing since you are allowed to use Orbs that can affect all opposing Pokemon without drawbacks (preferably stunning them), unlike the past Mystery Dungeon games where you can't use Orbs during boss fights due to a mysterious power. There are no dangers associated with survival, and how a Pokemon managed to explore without consumption of apples and without being famished is beyond me.
The only real challenge to this game are the post story dungeons in which only the 99 floor dungeons have retained the belly system, and there are three of them, two in-game, and one from downloadable content.
Even if you are defeated in a dungeon, you still keep all the money and almost all of your items. There's almost no punishment at all.
Lack of Pokemon selection.
Unlike other Pokemon Mystery Dungeon titles in which there are 492 Pokemon to recruit, Gates to Infinity has around 170 different Pokemon, and not all Unova native Pokemon are in the Pokemon world. I could no longer recruit them all just like the Pokedex. The lack of Pokemon brings me a sense of déjà vu from Pokemon Black and White in which there are 150 Pokemon native to the Unova region (no past Pokemon). The lack of diversity hurts teambuilding, even if there are few other Pokemon from other regions such as Eeveevolutions, mascot Pikachu, and other popular overused Pokemon.
Little to no replay value.
At some point after you finished the game, you have very few things to do. You could take missions one by one until you reach the highest rank of your team. You could try to recruit all the Pokemon in Gates to Infinity. Or you could delete your save file to play from the beginning. Unfortunately, all of these options are mediocre at best. I may be bored playing missions one at a time, but I don't want to start a new file either.
Don't get me wrong; Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Gates to Infinity is a solid game in which they tried to do something different with the mechanics while trying to attract former dungeon crawlers into the game. Between Explorers of Sky and Gates to Infinity, this is a gap of three and a half years in which the games are being released. This game provided flexibility and efficiency to the point that the game wants to make sure we are prepared to explore, making the gameplay much better than other titles.
So far, even though I've been playing and had 100+ hours recorded in my save with the highest rank of the team, the flaws outweigh the benefits. We were given an entire package that we can use to train against much weaker enemies. We do not gain experience points at all because we had not learned anything at all. This game's difficulty insulted my gaming experience, and I feel ashamed to play an easy game that shouldn't have existed unless the developers can show us some improvement of the game. Sure, you can help us maintain flexibility and convenience, but you have to give us the challenge that will make the hearts of every player feel intense.
Gates to Infinity could've been a great game if it weren't for these flaws, otherwise Explorers of Sky outclasses Gates to Infinity completely in terms of mechanics. I wouldn't recommended it even if it is the only Pokemon Mystery Dungeon game on the 3DS. If I was writing during the summer of 2013, I would've said wait for Pokemon X&Y to be released, but since X&Y is already released, then I have no other suggestions. You could always download a demo to give it a try, but it's worth a rental at best.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 05/06/14
Game Release: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity (US, 03/24/13)
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