Game Review: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX

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MISHAWAKA – Once again, Nintendo demonstrates its knowledge of the adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” as it slings yet another remaster our way.  

Either to save time or because I don’t care to write out the full name, I shall start by saying I will be calling this title “Rescue Team DX” for the rest of this piece. Rescue Team DX is a graphical upgrade to the 2005 title of the same name, minus a few letters. The original was split up into two versions, Red and Blue, in keeping with the mainline Pokémon titles, but only the single version has been released this go around. 

The 2020 release that found its way onto store shelves on Mar. 6 is a “graphical upgrade” because the original story remains largely unchanged. Nintendo seems to think all it needs to do nowadays is give the cobwebbed junk in its attic a good dusting and a fresh coat of paint to make a veritable boatload of money. Not that I’m complaining, I’m waiting for it to release Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition, myself, but I digress. 

The prologue opens in quite a different style than your standard Pokémon games; instead of playing as a trainer, you initially play as a disembodied spirit, trying not to freak out from the psychedelic void you’re in, as a gilded tennis ball performs a Myer’s-Briggs personality test on you. As far as I know, the ball is not named after a tree, like the numerous professors that usually guide you through these polychromatic purgatories, but you don’t get enough time to ask before it forcefully stuffs you, still incorporeal, into the tiny body of a small selection of Pokémon.  

Among the potential Poké-personas you will be unwillingly inhabiting are Cyndaquil and its fellow starters; Mudkip, and its fellow, but irrelevant, starters; Eevee; Skitty; Cubone; Psyduck; Pikachu, of course; and the bizarrely-Brooklyn-brogue-bearing Meowth of Team Rocket infame. Based on your answers, you will be given a Pokémon result instead of a personality, but not before the game makes wildly invasive comments on what your responses suggest about you.  

Then, the tennis ball deigns to let you have a partner to accompany you, as there’s no “I” in “team.” Unless, of course, you take inspiration from the “Wii” and its population of “Mii’s” and decide to make a “tiim.” The ball, as with most, doesn’t appreciate my sense of humor, and refuses to let you leave without a companion. Luckily, you’re allowed to choose from the remaining pool of Pokémon who your partner will be, and what their gender is. 

Proceeding that, you will be gently woken by your partner in the game world, who promptly informs you that you, despite your vehement protestations, are, in fact, a Pokémon. You, and only you, are to gather, then, that your presumably and previously human soul has been placed into the body of a Pokémon. 

No time to sort out this existential crisis, though. A distraught Butterfree rushes into the clearing, informing you that its child is in imminent danger, falling into a recently formed fissure. Unfortunately, Butterfree is too much of a coward to handle two or three level-five Pokémon on its own to rescue its child. Therefore, it enlists the help of you and your partner-to-be to save its baby Caterpie. This mission functions as the tutorial, but all it should be teaching you is how to press “L” on your controller, as that shifts the game into “Auto Mode.” The Pokémon move on their own, collect treasure on their own, and move you closer to the objective, without you having to lift a finger, save for battles. 

After the conclusion of the tutorial, your partner issues a heartfelt plea for you and them to start a fledgling rescue team, which you can refuse! Several times! Why get emotional and fiscal fulfillment out of this story that you paid for when you can make a fictional character, controlled by a panoply of ones and zeroes, momentarily sad, until you get tired of the same four lines of dialogue and finally relent, causing them to forget the immense trauma and desperation you inflicted on them in mere seconds? I’ll tell you why: humans are curious and bad, not necessarily in that order. 

Rescue Team DX, though not anything new, delivers a lovely, Poké-centric tale of tiny animals rescuing other tiny animals from slightly bigger animals and from being in dungeons, I guess. This delightfully colorful remaster is certainly not one to overlook, as, like the titular dungeons, there’s quite a bit going on underneath the surface. 

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