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Having enjoyed the depth and life of Pokemon: Diamond/Pearl DS I was skeptical that such an in depth Role Play Game (RPG) could ever be bettered. The latest in the long line of Pokemon games - Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Explorers of Darkness - is found to be very wanting in the heavy weight Pokemon arena on the DS.
I'm a fairly open minded man, and I had a hoped that there would be a good experience inside as I unwrapped the card and push it into my DS. Starting a new game I was confronted by a series of personality questions - psychoanalysis style. I'm sure you know the ones I mean; you might get asked when someone is trying to guess your star sign; 'You are offered a choice of two gifts. Which one will you take?' for instance or 'There is an alien invasion! What will you do?' - each with multiple choices to gauge what kind of person you are.
These exhaustive questions go on to tell you which Pokemon best fits your personality - and in turn which Pokemon you have been assigned to play as in the game. The immediate problem is the questions are very long winded and are not fitting to a fun DS game. This whole process smacks of an extreme lack of excitement and really breaks that perpetual lost in the game experience I so enjoy.
I'm a fairly open minded man, and I had a hoped that there would be a good experience inside as I unwrapped the card.
But wait, it gets better! Next you are asked to press your finger onto the DS touch screen so the game can detect your aura and choose your colour match for your personality - which simply became the background to the menu systems - ingenious?
Following those first initial annoyances the player then has to sit through about eight minutes of story which although atmospheric in places, quickly gets old. Finally, I find my Pokemon washed up on a beach being met by another Pokemon with which we can start adventuring. You may have noticed that I have not yet mentioned Pokemon trainers. This is because you play as a single Pokemon in these Dungeon games. This must have been a big decision by the developer as you no longer think in the third person (which was even retained in the battle focused Pokemon: Revolution Wii) but in the first; which means the choices you have to make as you explore and the Pokemon battles you fight are rather empty and sterile - after the intensity and vastness of the Pokemon: Diamond/Pearl DS games.
The adventure takes you into the nearest cave to retrieve your new Pokemon buddy's treasure. You at last take control of the Pokemon. The next ten minutes I spent exploring the cave going up and down stairs in a Gauntlet style level design. This barren adventuring experience could be forgiven if you were then handed a robust battling side to the game. This however is missing too.
It leaves you wondering what went wrong.
The battles are stripped down to a basic (but confused) version of the ones enjoyed in Diamond and Pearl. The famous Pokemon battle engine survives, and the skills of the Pokemon are there, but none of the magnetic teeth biting decisions ar recreated. You are constantly left feeling like switching off and never playing again; it really is that disappointing. Chunsoft, developers of the mystery dungeon series, seem to be just hooking onto the Pokemon name without providing a strong match to the earlier Pokemon games in the series.
Suffice to say I did not get a long way though the game before laying it to rest. For me, a fickle perpetual gamer, when a series of games sets the quality bar so high with some games and then disappoints so much with others it leaves you wondering what went wrong.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
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