There's something to be said about a game that sets you in the world of Pokémon, with eyes unclouded, as a citizen, and not a slave driver. It's an interesting experience to see the realm from their perspective, which, for the most part, consists of outlooks so positive, that it's nearly enough to make your life feel inadequate in the process.
In addition to being a successful roguelike dungeon crawler, the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series never ceases to provide that aforementioned base level of entertainment to fans of the franchise, while taxing them in the process with tricks and traps.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity is the newest iteration, poised to be the first ever polygonal game released outside of Japan, and the first ever 3DS entry. Yep, it's more Pokémon Mystery Dungeon. Just a little bit easier this time around.
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity (3DS) Developer: Spike Chunsoft Publisher: Nintendo Release: March 24, 2013 MSRP: $39.99
Gates to Infinity is the first game in the franchise to take place in the Unova region -- or for those who aren't up to date on their Pokémon games, the areas featured in Black/White 1 and 2.
It's also the first polygonal and 3D Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game released outside of Japan, and damn does it look great. If there's one group that consistently does right by the 3DS' 3D, it's games based on Nintendo properties, and Gates to Infinity is a prime example. The vibrant colors of Unova's pastel Pokémon really shine on the 3DS, and the 3D effect absolutely should be kept at the full setting during the entire experience.
As the name implies, most of the game takes place in dungeons, where your Pokémon will move about randomly generated areas from a top-down perspective. The franchise itself plays out as a "roguelike," which is a type of dungeon-crawling game that operates similar to a strategy RPG in many ways -- just without the permanent death aspect. Similar to most roguelikes, there's always a sense of "do I press on?" as you decide whether or not to go deeper into the dungeon for more wares and experience, or get out while you still can.
Although you can't always see it unless you press a button, combat is grid-based like a strategy RPG. Enemies follow the grid pattern as well, and every single input, including movement, constitutes an action. So in other words, if you move to get a better vantage point, that's a chance for an enemy or AI partner to attack or move as well -- for tougher battles, everything needs to be precise.
Just like a regular ol' Pokémon game, there are berries, PP up items (that recharge your abilities), and your usual suspect statistics (Hit Points, Attack, Defense, Special Attack, Special Defense, and Speed).
I have to say outright, this is the easiest Mystery Dungeon game I have ever played. For starters, hunger is no longer a factor at all. You also don't lose the farm for dying in a dungeon, items are more streamlined, and IQ points for individual Pokémon are now team-based.
In past games, you could stand in place in a dungeon to heal yourself, at the cost of "Hunger." If your Hunger was zero, your HP would start to decrease until you ate food to bring it back up. It was a great way to regulate players from spamming certain tactics over and over, and force them to regulate which items they wanted to take to each dungeon, considering item space was limited.
Now, that's all gone. Outside of basic item management, you don't ever have to worry about recovering between fights. In some ways, this basically eliminates the survival aspect of the roguelike. While boss fights can still be a proper challenge, dungeon crawling in general is now extremely easy outside of the special parameter dungeons that don't appear for quite a while. It's a conundrum, as the series was always on the lighter side of roguelikes in the first place, but I do lament the removal of some of the strategic elements.
You'll constantly get most of your supplies from the abundantly stocked and highly inhabited Post Town, as you work your way towards your partner's dream of the ultimate Pokémon Paradise. Outside of the dungeons, there really aren't many towns to explore, but given how beautiful and endearing Post Town is, I was fine with it.
Instead of taking a personality test to decide your playable character, you simply choose a starter in this game, as well as your AI partner (the choices being Snivy, Tepig, Oshawott, Pikachu and Axew). It's a bit less imaginative for sure, but it lets you play the game the way you want it from the beginning, which I appreciate.
There are two concurrent narratives: one serious, and one a lot more lighthearted. As the story progresses, your character will have frequent dreams of the possible extinction and deaths of the Pokémon race, as your partner character dreams of creating his own Pokémon Paradise. Eventually, the two stories will intertwine, with a ton of wacky hijinks along the way.
By "wacky," I mean that these subplots often will play out just like the anime's storylines. It can get a little...weird...to say the least. I'm talking Pokémon crushes (under the auspices of dialog like "I really want to be her friend!"), con artists scams, and "best friends forever" subplots. There's a lot of emphasis on "following your dreams no matter what," and acceptance. A typical Saturday morning, if you will.
But it can also get a bit dark as well, with themes that deal with the acceptance of death, bullying, human (Pokémon?) nature, and rejection. Although it can get a bit hamfisted at times, I have to give Gates to Infinity major props in that it's fairly unpredictable throughout (whether it's serious or silly), even including a non-Pokémon creature for the first time in the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series.
Your enjoyment of the game's theme can hinge on your opinion of the generation V games, as at this point, some of the designs can get a little ridiculous, and very little of the cast in Gates to Infinity will be represented by Pokémon outside of the Unova region.
Like most Mystery Dungeon games, this adventure is long, and will last you at minimum 20 hours. After completing the game, there's even more to do, including a post-game dungeon and the ability to play every other dungeon over and over.
Auras in dungeons that modify its floors with different wacky parameters, like speed reduction or the inability to recover health. There's also an augmented-reality component, that lets you discover new Magnagate dungeons through scanning in circular objects in real life.
Similar to Fire Emblem: Awakening, DLC maps are planned, with the first one dropping for free for a limited time. In Japan, there are currently 12 dungeons that have been released, ranging from $1 to $3. But between the Magnagates, and the post-game content already on offer, you most likely won't need the DLC for a long while.
It's always tough to judge whether or not a game should be commended or punished for streamlining a series that previously catered to a niche audience. In this case, it simplifies the experience a bit too much, but given that this is the most accessible game yet, it could lead to more potential fans, which is always a good thing.
Although it may not be the best game in the franchise, Gates to Infinity is still an enjoyable dungeon crawl, and a beautiful-looking game to boot. So long as you can deal with an easier adventure, this is another mystery worth solving.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity - Reviewed by Chris Carter
Charming - Not perfect, but it's easy to ignore the rough spots when faced with so many engaging design decisions and entertaining moments. A memorable game that's hard not to like and recommend to others.
CoilWhine Looks like I'm not gonna be able to 100% Tearaway Unfolded until Monday at the least. I'm definitely writing about it this weekend and am trying my hardest to get my screenshots off of my PS4 (especially hard as I don't do social media anymore)Darth Wachen I've never done a blog before, so I may as well try one with a review of Stranger of Sword City....well, when I get entered into that contest of courseikiryou Shakedown Hawaii is giving me good GTA vibes. I missed the topdown GTA games when they were a thing. I have to decide what platform to get it for since it's coming to 3DS/Vita/PS4/PC (probably the Vita version for moi).TheBlondeBass You think your art sucks? Here's the rule34 I made of Larx yesterday. Look at it and despair.Nekrosys Hey Dreamweaver? If you think your art sucks, you should have a look at my magnum opus. It's of Cloud from the popular game, Final Fantasy: All the Bravest. Agent9 I never thought this would happen, but here I am. all of my 700+ pokemon gone in one day. My cart stopped working and there's nothing I can do. I quit, you can't just rebuild all that. Time to find something else.taterchimp Tom Collins is a pretty great drink, and well suited for poutine. consumptionSolar Pony Django It may be because I've been drinking but... We need some dung beetles from ark for the front page. Move that dung on out.CoilWhine Does anyone know how to get PS4 screenshots onto a PC without needing a flash drive? I don't have a spare.Dreamweaver This is an example of how bad my drawings are. I honestly think drawing stick figures would've been easier on the eyes. :( The worst thing about this image is that this was made after I got BETTER. Trust me, you don't want to see my earlier stuff. T^TChillyBilly So I received a mysterious box in the mail today. When I opened it I was blown away...The friends I've made here on Destructoid are amazing (More pics in the comments).Parismio FRISK PACIFIES YOUR FACE!MeanderBot Woe is me. This month's Cblog theme is basically an excuse to draw pretty girls, and here I am with no time.Gundy Maybe one day I'll reach bronze rank in Rocket League...Nathan D A very Bloodborne-y moment.
TheLimoMaker Back in tip-top shape guys, feel waaaaay better than I have done these past few weeks. Plus my voice sounds slightly raspy now, meaning my Batman impression has been upgraded.
Apologies to Gaj and Solar the most, my male-up kisses go to you: XxxxxxOverlordZetta Wait... Is that...? Could it be...? It IS! Gravity Rush's Kat has taken a break from rushing and graviting to sacrifice some souls in Soul Sacrifice Delta! Which isn't even going for $8 on the PS Store right now! What a steal!ScionVyse Finally got my in game time down to under an hour in Super Metroid. I'm pretty happy about that.Shinta https://killscreen.com/articles/falling-through-a-100-million-stories-in-gravity-rush-remastered/
Really great article about Gravity Rush's director (director of Silent Hill), and his 1970s French comic influences.Dreamweaver Unpopular opinion time: I not only consider Kanye West to be one of my favorite rappers of all-time â€” yes, I'm being serious â€” but he's one of the very few people in the world whom I'd consider to be a role model. I truly wish he would notice me one d