Pokemon Mystery Dungeon DX was something of a surprise when it was announced last month. A remake of 2006's Pokemon Mystery Dungeon for Nintendo DS, it trades the sprite-based artwork of the original for storybook-like cel-shading and a handful of upgrades.
It's currently available as a demo in the Nintendo Switch eShop, meaning you can try it for yourself. Nevertheless, Nintendo invited me down to its California branch earlier this week, as well as take on Team Meanies (an "evil" rescue team led by a conniving Gengar). It was as I remembered it: a very light roguelike that's long on personality and short on difficulty.
In Pokemon Mystery Dungeon DX, you play as a human who is mysteriously transformed into one of 16 different Pokemon. You subsequently join a "rescue team," which sees you enter multi-level dungeons with the goal being to survive until the end. The action is top-down, with each step representing one turn as you approach and attack hostile Pokemon. You party is grown by recruiting lost Pokemon along the way.
Its roguelike elements include randomized dungeons and hunger meter that has to be filled by eating apples. It does not have permanent death, nor any sort of randomized identification game that I can recognize, so it's not exactly Nethack. But it's lineage does very much extend back to Rogue, albeit in a way that's simpler and more accessible.
I'll admit that I've never been all that big on the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series, mostly because I find the dungeon crawling slow and tedious, but the new art certainly gives it a nice boost. You can also hold ZL to auto-crawl through the dungeon, substantial increasing the pace of exploration. On the whole, it seems like a good improvement on the original, and an opportunity to revisit one of the better Pokemon spinoffs on Switch (even if I would rather that The Pokemon Company remade Pokemon Snap or Pokemon Puzzle League instead).
So yeah, not a whole heck of a lot to add about this one. Here a few more tidbits though:
- Pokemon Mystery Dungeon DX will focus on the monsters from the original game, meaning no cameos from Pokemon Sword and Shield. However, it will include Mega Evolutions, which are teased in the trailer released earlier this week.
- It's a "standalone product," meaning that it won't have any connection to Pokemon Home. Despite the lack of Pokemon from Sword and Shield, it sounds like it will have some sort of connection to Gen 8, though Nintendo remains mum for now.
- The ability to rescue other players will return. In the original game, if you ended up dying, you could send an SOS email via wifi, upon which another player could attempt to revive you. It's unclear what form this will take in Pokemon Mystery Dungeon DX, but it will be there.
- Other additions expanded teams—from six to eight members—and new "rare qualities" that confer benefits to the whole team. For instance, the ability Squad Up makes it easier to recruit Pokemon you successfully defeat. It's a little bit of needed depth in a roguelike that is otherwise rather simple.
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX is due out on Nintendo Switch on March 6. In the meantime, Pokemon Home launched earlier this week, bringing with it a fresh wave of transferrable Pokemon. Look for more coverage upon release.