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Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Explorers of Sky
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Explorers of Sky

Nintendo DS
Genre: Role Playing Players: 1 to 0
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo Classification: G
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky Review
Review By @ 02:12pm 08/01/10
A more apt title might have been 'My First Roguelike'. This obscure RPG sub-genre is an acquired taste, and one seldom seen on today's consoles. Roguelikes let the player explore randomly-generated dungeons, with haphazardly placed rooms, tunnels, baddies, and loot. Examples include NetHack, Angband, and Ancient Domains of Mystery. Chunsoft dominates this genre on DS, having already given us Shiren the Wanderer and the four previous Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games.

Roguelikes are endlessly replayable, but they have a fatal flaw: all that randomness makes them soulless by definition.

The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series tries to get around this weakness by tacking a story on to the endless dungeon-crawling. You play a sort of reverse furry ― a human trapped in a Pokémon's body. Waking up in a world where everyone is a Pokémon, you resolve to become an explorer, clinging to the hope that the secret to escaping this freakish world of cartoon animals lies in some forgotten catacomb.

Missions are structured as easily explored multi-levelled dungeons. While it's possible to charge for the next level as soon as you find the exit, it's still a good idea to explore every cranny and nook. Grinding through the re-spawning enemies will help level your character, and there are health refills and food lying around everywhere.

This Roguelike is more forgiving than most. Enemies are not particularly hard to beat, and there is a wide range of ranged weapons and spells to augment your standard melee attacks. You have an AI buddy with you at all times, so most battles are two-versus-one by default. Treasure is plentiful, and there are mid-mission shops for when you run low on vital supplies. The graphics are crisp and functional, if dated, and you can save mid-mission at any time ― a must when dealing with the vagaries of public transport.

The downside of this low difficulty is that it defuses much of the tension; completing a stage feels less like a genuine achievement, and more like checking off an item on a shopping list. The story segments drag on forever, and while the goofy, utterly ridiculous characters do help to liven things up, you'll often find yourself wishing that they'd just shut up.

Explorers of Sky is a remake of the previous paired release in the series, Explorers of Time and Explorers of Darkness. There's a smattering of new content, but it's basically the same game.

It's not hard to fathom why this genre lurks on the fringes. Something is missing from this game, and that something is meaning. Purpose. There is scant depth to the tactics, and while the repetitive act of sweeping through dungeons is mildly compulsive, this just can't compete with the majesty of the latest Zelda game, which also recently arrived in stores. A little too simplistic for its own good, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky is a game for the very young ― gamers barely aware of what they're doing. For a more rewarding dungeon-crawling epic, Spirit Tracks is a better bet.
What we liked
  • Classic 'Roguelike' dungeon-crawling action
  • Clear graphics, simple interface
  • Addictive, accessible
What we didn't like
  • Too easy
  • Too simplistic
  • Cut scenes are way too long
We gave it: