Review by PKMNRULES

Reviewed: 04/24/08

The result when you work out the kinks of the prequel.

It's been about a year and a half since the release of PMD Red and Blue, a pair of games that took Pokemon into a whole new direction, from a full-on RPG, to a turn-based strategy/RPG cross, and one that definitely thrilled a good bit of people, including myself. Many people held the new pair of games Darkness and Time in high anticipation, and at long last, it is out. (Well, at least in the one language I can read.)

GAMEPLAY: 10/10

One of the many pitfalls that sequels ever-so-commonly fall into is getting a bit TOO much into changes. They change this, change that, and when they've made it perfect, they go and change a couple more things and screw it all up.

Well Nintendo actually has half a brain. Their core gameplay engine was what captured me with PMD Red. Their engine was brilliant. It was...well you get the picture. It wasn't meant to be touched, so it wasn't. It has been left alone for the most part. People that played and understood PMD Red and Blue will be able to buy the game and know exactly what they're doing. The few changes they did make are subtle enough not to make much of a difference.

If you haven't played PMD Red or Blue, the objective is to reach the end of the mystery dungeon alive. When you enter, the floor you are on is randomly generated, composed of rectangular rooms and bending hallways connecting the rooms. You get put at a random location in a random room, and another tile in a random room (sometimes in the same room as you, always a nice thing) becomes the stairs tile. You aren't told where it is, but you must find it anyway. Once you reach it, you go to the next floor. The process repeats itself for as many floors as there are in the dungeon.

Sounds easy enough, right? Well, would the fact that there are wild Pokemon also wandering around the floor, ready and willing to attack you, change your mind? And would the fact that at the end of some dungeons, there is a vicious boss ready to tear you to shreds, make you think twice about preparing well for it? Yeah, I thought so.

Indeed, one encounters many wild Pokemon on an expedition through a dungeon. Sometimes in halls, sometimes in rooms. Battling them is massively different from D/P, or any standard Pokemon game where you play the trainer. You can use a move to do considerable (well...hopefully) damage to the enemy, a basic attack NOT considered a move to do low damage, (It's actually much stronger this time around) use one of a massive variety of items, or make a movement up, down, left, right, or diagonally. After you do, your other teammates use their turns, performing one of these actions, then the enemies do. After this cycle, it's back to your turn.

Unlike last game, this game makes an effort to explain itself to you. In the last game, you were plopped in the first dungeon with little clue of what to do if you haven't played before. In this game, it tries a lot harder to let you know how to play. After the first dungeon, a lot of information becomes available in the main areas pertaining to specifics that really matter as they stack up. Even if you haven't played PMD Red or Blue, you'll be able to figure it out. And playing D/P really helps too. Even if the games are massively different.

GRAPHICS: Best unrated.

I'm never one to give a crap about graphics. (No wonder the PS3 isn't held so high in my mind.) Basically, as long as they aren't complete crap, I'll play anything with good gameplay.

SOUND: 10/10

Sounds are quite detailed all around. And, unlike last game, each dungeon has its own music. (Or at least as far as I can tell...a good 20-25 dungeons in) No music is reused.

STORY: 10/10

You can barely remember a thing. You wake up on the beach, with no memory. The only thing you're sure of is that you are human. [Partner] is the first to Pokemon to find you, lying on the beach as if recovering from passing out. To your massive disbelief, he points out that you are a Pokemon. You look at yourself, and...you ARE a Pokemon!

A Koffing and a Zubat come along and mug [partner]'s most precious treasure, his Relic Fragment, a little stone with a peculiar drawing on it. He doesn't know what it does, or where it came from, but it is his personal treasure, and begs your help in getting it back. You give chase through Beach Cave, and from there...

I think I'll stop there. If you want to know more, buy the game. Trust me you do. The story, unbelievably, can actually be (this has gotta be a first for the video gaming world) unpredictable! It's a wonderful story for a video game. At times, I can actually FEEL the story. This is actually the very first game (out of at least a good 100-150 with a story) I've bought in which I created a word document of all the questions I felt would be answered as the story unfolded. I made a few predictions, and all of them were wrong.

WI-FI INTEGRATION: 6/10

Yes, this game has Wi-Fi. No this game does not have multiplayer. The main purpose Wi-Fi serves is player rescues.

As in Red and Blue, players can rescue other players who die in dungeons. But, last time, the only ways were by password and by wireless comm./link cable/dual slot. Passwords were used for random rescues, but it was very hard to successfully post them in multiple places. Wi-Fi, however, gets your rescue out to all Wi-Fi using rescuers, and also allows to rescuer to send a helper Pokemon and item! Passwords do not allow helpers. They could still be sent through wireless comm. etc. in Red and Blue, but only for the gamers with RL friends. (Few and far between) With Wi-Fi, if you die, you can send out your SOS to Wi-Fi, go watch a little TV, and come back to hopefully see your team rescued.

Regrettably, the game is still missing multiplayer features that it could benefit from so much. Having a second player over Wi-Fi or even Wireless play your partner would make the game so much better.

OVERALL: 10/10 (Not an average)

The release of this wonderful sequel came quite quickly, as only 19 months ago PMD Red and Blue was released. In this abnormally small time, PMD has seen some serious improvement, and feels a lot better. They didn't go out of control with changes. They improved what they needed to, and kept what they did right the first time. Between awesome gameplay, wonderful story, and...well...awesome gameplay, this game is bound to sell out fast.


Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Product Release: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness (US, 04/20/08)

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