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Friday, December 4, 2015

Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon Saved the Whole Pokémon Franchise

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Pokémon asked for a Rescue Team! And it got one.

There is this gross trend lately among Pokémon games. Someone among Nintendo and/or The Pokémon Company is getting all these third-tier development teams like Genius Sonority to make a slew of addictive-yet-destructive free-to-start Pokémon games for the Nintendo 3DS (and then to mobile). We've seen it with Pokémon Shuffle, Pokémon Rumble World (where it brings up very concerning ethical issues), and the just-announced-and-now-released Pokémon Picross. The latter of which was the only new game announcement from the last Nintendo Direct in November, amusingly enough.

Basically, Pokémon has devolved (in a series supposedly about evolution) into a series that uses manipulative revenue models to restrict great gameplay, all while preying on children. It sucks, and maybe it's the cost of not having a mainline game in the series this year. The Pokémon Company needs to leverage its brand for SOMETHING that will constantly be money-making, since it's specifically dedicated to just one franchise compared to other companies that have multiple levers to play with.

So hey, let's have games that would be over pretty fast if people could play them whenever they want. That means we don't have to work that much on content if people access it really slowly! Or pay to proceed. Or pay to access the content.

Yet one Pokémon game stands to defend the old way of gaming. One game... comes to the rescue.

Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon rescue friend feature
Friends to the Rescue! No, not the show.

Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon.

This is a game that you fully pay up-front. It doesn't make you pay any additional money to be able to finish the game. There are no microtransactions. Hell, it gives away a 3DS home menu theme with every purchase of the game, whether it be digital OR physical!

The game's predecessor, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity, awkwardly inserted downloadable content into the game that basically gave away a lot of hard-to-get stuff. So you could go through an already-easy game even easier. From my research, there is no such scheme in Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon. In fact, people report that the game actually is... challenging. That's good! Its predecessor was so easy that I got through without ever using one of its new features, the Team Attack. No idea what it does. (Totally didn't use it because my shoulder buttons are broken on my 3DS, but whatever.)

Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon Alliance Attacks Piplup Squirtle
Piplup lookin' cute. So is Squirtle. Also, I guess it's an "Alliance Attack" in this game. Not sure how that Fury Attack will help against Drifloon.

Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon That has to be Lively Town! Pikachu
“Getting this far is probably the hardest thing I've done all year.”

I'm a little curious on what hard things this year Cody has done, though. That seems critical to this story and he's just omitting it!

It's not free-to-play. There isn't DLC. The game treats you with respect by actually putting up a challenge. Ten, fifteen years ago this was standard fare. Now this is a rarity, especially among Pokémon. ...Well, the challenge bit was always an anomaly in Pokémon games, but at least the first two Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games in the series had it!

Just to go back to a point from the first screenshot: Rescue missions are back, as well. Gates to Infinity didn't have those, like the developers were saying, "Well, no one is actually going to faint in this game."

It appears that instead of paid DLC getting you items and more dungeons, there is "Wonder Mail". Which is just like what the first two games in the series did!

Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon Wonder Mail password QR code
Passwords and QR codes are free to find and enter!

That's a lot more friendly. While there is something negative to be said about having in-game content accessible only from out-of-game areas, I'll take a positive spin on it. It encourages out-of-game community building! Which you really should be doing anyway, with rescue codes. It's like how Next Level Games wanted folks to come together to translate the foreign-speaking fighters in Punch-Out!! Wii, which I thought was brilliant. But instead of just rescuing one another, you can share some Wonder Mail too. Good stuff.

Thanks to Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon's example, Pokémon Rumble World has been inspired to come out with a retail version removing all of this microtransaction nonsense. Not available in North America, but it's a start! When I heard there would BE a "super" Mystery Dungeon game, I was scared and thought it would be a free-to-play version of the franchise. I'm so happy that fear was wrong, and we can trust Chunsoft again, at least!

Still, something is up with The Pokémon Company...

This happens to be KoopaTV's 700th article. Ludwig still hasn't played Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon since his last article on it, though he did submit it as his favourite 3DS game of 2015 to a Nintendo sweepstakes. He's very impressed just by hearing about it, and can't wait to actually progress in the game! All screenshots from the game's minisite.

Ludwig wants to take advantage of rescuing as many people as he can, throughout the series.


  1. Getting in shape, going back to school, scoring with cute babes... nothing was as difficult as getting anywhere in Super Mystery Dungeon.

    I'd say it's; the hardest game released this year, definitely. Certainly a lot harder than, say, Bloodborne.

    1. (Not sure if I should give you a Truth point or not since I wouldn't know myself...All those things you mentioned are really hard!)

    2. (You're DEFINITELY NOT getting a Truth point. You're either a life savant because you're really awesome at all those things you listed, or you're terrible at videogames.)

  2. Woo! I still gotta try these games...

    Now I hope the next main-series title is also a welcome return to form, after my disappointment with X/Y. (Not sure about OR/AS, since I ignored them...)

    1. Well, all the games from the article's first paragraph are anti-recommended!

  3. I'm glad you like PSMD. You have to actually use your brain to get through the game. You will learn to respect single wandering Pokémon and you will not refuse to use items on them and only save the items for bosses and monster houses.

    I have not even gotten the gen 3 remakes. I have been getting really tired of the formula and I don't really build up teams for multiplayer anyway. I know why the formula is pretty much unchanged and I am not asking it should be changed as I acknowledge it is a great series. It's just I myself am not motivated now to play another game in the main series.

    1. You raise a good point I gotta grapple with: Am I even going to get Gen 7's main series RPG? I mean, I sure hope I will...

      But I LIKE not using my items. I always carry a lot of Orbs that will do things like Spurn and Sleep and just never use them. You sayin' I'll have to?

  4. if I dont get this id rather kill myself :( (jk but I really want it)

    1. ...eep.

      (Well, it's worth really wanting. It's not worth killing yourself.)


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