Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Explorers of Sky Review by: ZlinqxCalling all Pokemon fans! Play this game!
So this is a game i've been wanting to review for quite some time to hopefully bring some much needed attention to as this is in my opinion one of the most underrated games on the Nintendo DS but i've never actually gotten around to it so I figured it was about time that i'd tackle it.
So for those who don't know Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Explorers of Sky is a remake of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Explorers of Time/Darkness (kind of in the same way as Pokemon Platinum is to Pokemon Diamond/Pearl). To those who are completely new to the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series it is basically a dungeon crawling game where you play as the Pokemon themselves instead of being a trainer and the series has grown to become the most succesful Pokemon spin off series ever made.
Well that's about it really let's just crawl right into this review dungeon... Uh... I don't know where I was going with that... Atleast I tried this time.
The game is made entirely in 2d and while it doesn't push the system limitations in any way it does have some great graphics. The sprites all look great portraying each Pokemon pretty faithfully and the animation for the different moves do too for the most part though some are re used for similar moves. The look of each dungeon is pretty distinct which helps making them stand out and somewhat helps keep the game from getting dull. Additionally the game features some really fantastic looking images which are used during cutscenes and the only thing I don't like about the graphics is that they didn't have some sort of gallery where you could view different sprites, images etc which is a shame since that means you'll have to start all over to see some of the locations and images. A downside which is probably the main reason I haven't rated it a perfect 10 is that some might find the graphics excluding the images used during cutscenes and such a bit pixelated. I myself didn't really have this problem though.
Sound: 11... Because I just love it that much.
I'm just going to come out and say this right now the soundtrack in this game is fantastic and is my personal favorite soundtrack on the DS. The game has a great variety of tracks with each dungeon having it's own soundtrack. A lot of them are pretty upbeat in their tone but the game also features some suprisingly emotional soundtracks later in the game as well and all the soundtracks really help to set the mood during various situations in the game. As a last note the soundtrack of the final boss battle in this game is my personal favorite soundtrack of all time and as much as I want to go more into detail why I wont for the risk of spoiling the story but let me just tell you that I have never before heard a soundtrack that so perfectly captures the feel of a particular moment in any game. As for the sound effects in the game they work well and usually complement the game fairly well but are nothing out of the ordinary. A small nitpick would be that some sound effects are re used for the same moves which can be somewhat noticable but it's nothing that hinders the game in any way.
The game managed to keep me addicted throughout thanks to the polished gameplay and great story and just how everything came together to create a great experience. But there's one big downfall which happens to have to do with the gameplay itself. Don't get me wrong it's great and really well polished being suprisingly deep as well such as through the ability to link different moves (meaning you can use them at the same time) to create combos, obtain different passive iq skills through the use of gummi items which are different depending on which pokemon you're using and can help you gain quite the edge in dungeons along with a lot of other elements. Unfortunately however that doesn't stop the gameplay from getting repetetive eventually. Despite having lots of great additions, it always boils down to the same thing. I feel like this can partly be attributed to what is marketed as one of the main features of the game. The randomizing of the dungeons. Incase you didn't know the same dungeon will have a random layout each time you enter it essentially meaning the exit can spawn right next to you or be in the opposite end of the dungeon. This does sound great on paper and it's neccesary for certain additions of the game but it takes away from the uniqueness of each dungeon. Yes each dungeon does have it's own sort of style to it graphics wise which does help but layout wise they'll largely be the same despite being randomized due to the limitations of it. This means each dungeon is essentially a differently looking maze with different enemies that still have very similar layouts. And while this doesn't neccesairly break the game or anything it's something which will be apparent after playing it for a while during your first playthrough making the game feel dull eventually meaning there isn't really much reason to warrant more then one or possibly two playthroughs. If the game had instead focused more on making each dungeon feel unique and having their own little twists to them I feel it could've helped the game a lot despite making it have less replay value this wouldn't mattered too much in my opinion as the game features a lot of content during your first playthrough including all the optional things you can do and the fact that it gets somewhat dull makes it backfire anyways.
I'm going to give some background on the opening 20 minutes or so since i'm assuming many of you might not even have played a Pokemon Mystery Dungeon game before.
The game starts with you taking a quiz deciding which one of the around 20 or so available Pokemon you resemble the most and you also pick a partner Pokemon of your choice which you get to name. You then see a brief scene of a storm and two people talking which end up with the two people seemingly getting separated. You then awaken in a world only inhabited by Pokemon and you become shocked as you realize you yourself have turned into a Pokemon (the one you resembled the most). Here you also get introduced to your partner who gets attacked by a Koffing and a Zubat who steals a prized possesion of his. You end helping him get it back by joining forces and take on your first dungeon to chase after them and get it back. After that the partner Pokemon tries to convince you to join him and form an exploration team (which is basically a group of pokemon who explores dungeons and help various pokemon in need) by training at a nearby exploration guild and you having nowhere else to go agree.
I will say the story does start of a bit slow in the beginning mostly being about doing different missions and helping various people ocassionally giving some exposistion on the characters and what is going on. But when the story does pick up it can get suprisingly deep and emotional. And yes i'll even go as far as to admit that I cried during 2 different points in the game which is a rare thing for me to do especially in a Pokemon game. So if you find it somewhat dull in the beginning I urge to give you a chance and i'm almost certain you'll find it just as great as I did. Another new addition to Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Explorers of Sky is the addition of 5 special episodes which unlock as you progress through the game. These are instances where you get to play through different scenes as a side characters and they can provide some background on some of the characters. While there were 1 episode I didn't like because of it being repetetive and not adding too much I did like most of them and you could arguably say they were the biggest new addition to the game.
The main story is pretty lenghty and after you manage to beat it there's a sort of 2nd arc with a 2nd final boss to beat which in total took me about 40 hours to beat. In terms of side content there is some in form of trying to get your exploration team to achieve the highest possible rank and there is a lot of extra dungeons to explore. Not to mention the afformentioned special episodes along with a lot more. A short side quest is also unlocked after beating the final boss involving Shaymin village which is an area exclusive to explorers of sky. The game also has some amount of replay value if you replay the game a while after completing it using another main and partner pokemon and the game features some online connectivity in the form of letting you rescue other teams that have been defeated in a dungeon allowing them to resume where they left off and you can also trade items with other teams. Nothing major but it's a nice option encouraging helping out others.
Think this game is going to be a cake walk just because it's a Pokemon game? Think again.
The game only features one default difficult setting and can be suprisingly difficult at times. If you're completely new to it, chances are you'll die a lot starting from the 2nd or 3rd dungeon. Dungeons get increasingly longer and difficult and you'll need to make sure you're stocked up on supplies so you can survive. Simply charging head into a dungeon wont cut it. Unless you have a revival seed (which makes it so that when a Pokemon dies they automatically get revived) you're partner or you could easily die meaning you to have to restart the dungeon. And while trying to reach the end of a dungeon there are many things you need to keep in mind such as your hunger level (which gradually increases as you progress through the dungeon) meaning you have to eat apples and other food items. If you get to 0/100 belly you will start to lose hp. Another thing that will probably cause you a lot of trouble is monster houses. These don't start appearing until later in the game but they are areas in dungeons which are usually noticeable before walking into one as they contain several valuable items. If you walk into one several Pokemon surround you and you'll have to either try to get around them and escape or fight them. This adds a risk factor and often features some nice rewards if you manage to defeat them (not to mention it has it's own soundtrack which is pretty funky).
Rest assured you'll most likely find a fair amount of challenge playing this game and the great thing about is even though it does have it's challenging moments it's fairly easy to get into.
New additions: This is a new category I made up per request since this is essentially a remake of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Explorers of Time/Darkness covering most of the major differences from the versions. As such this is mainly for those who played either of those games.
- New playable pokemon which include Vulpix, Riolu, Phanpy and Shinx as well as the return of Eevee and Skitty return from previous installments.
- Meowth and Munchlax are no longer playable but can still be used as partner Pokemon.
- A new addition called the Spinda cafe which allows you to make drinks out of food items in particular gummies which can grant positive effects. It also allows you to potentially get access to some new dungeons and recruit Pokemon.
- The cafe also has a recycle shop meaning you can trade in items you don't want and gain tickets which can then be used in a lottery like minigame which can potentially get you some rare items.
- Shaymin Village is a newly added location with a dungeon which has it's own little side story and can be accessed once you have defeated the final boss and also allows you to recruit Shaymin as well as switch to and revert from it's sky forme.
- A new location can randomly be found in dungeons called the secret bazaar. It has 4 stalls which for a price allow you to clean your inventory, escape the dungeon, completely heal your party before returning to a dungeon as well as letting you buy grab bags
which can hold useful items.
- The afformentioned special episodes which lets you play as different side characters through different mini storylines. There are 5 in total and each unlocks as you progress through the game.
These are what i'd call the biggest differences there are a lot more minor differences and tweaks as well that I wont mention for the sake of dragging out the review too much. Please let me know if this is a category you'd like to see me keep using for other games (when neccesary of course).
This is a great game with just one big downside to it. With that said this shouldn't in any way prevent you from getting the game. You'll have lots of fun on your first playthrough and maybe even a second playthrough and it's something that shouldn't really become apparent untill later in the game. It's still a shame though as otherwise I would have nearly no qualms with giving the game a 10. Regardless this is still a largely underrated game that deserves a lot more attention and i'm glad I finally did manage to review it. I'd recommend this game as a must play to any Pokemon fan really.
So that's another finished review of one of the most underrated game of all time in my opinion. And i'm glad I did finally manage to review it.
I guess I should also mention that the reason I didn't publish any reviews last week is because I was on a vacation and had limited internet access. I did make a thread about it but there's a chance you might not have seen it so there's that. I should be back to my normal reviewing speed now though so yay.
As usual I hope you enjoyed reading and feel free to tell me what you think of the review, if you agree or not, ways I can improve and things I did well (and don't forget to rate it). That will be all untill the next review and now it's time for...
Gamin'gal: Please workA user of this
: Figured you might be interested.juuldude