Review: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity

Hello, beloved readers! My whole life, I’ve been praising Pokemon Emerald as the best Pokemon game, however, this was changed forever one fateful day a couple of weeks ago. I was in the EB Games, trading in some used games for credit. When I picked up a copy of Super Mario 3D World, my father wouldn’t let me purchase it (I later received it as a holiday gift), so I instead purchased the first thing I saw that caught my eye: a Pokemon game I hadn’t played! I took it home, popped it in my 3DS, and fell in love. I’m here today to tell you why Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity is my new second favourite game of all time! And for those wondering how this differs from previous titles, there’s an analysis within the review as well.

It’s… so beautiful!

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity is a dungeon crawler game. It was released for the Nintendo 3DS on March 24th, 2013, in North America. It has received some very low review scores from top review sites (which, in my opinion, are very unwarranted), such as a 4.5/10 from IGN and a 5/10 from Gamespot. However, I would take those scores with a grain of salt, as they both come from sites which routinely give Call of Duty games scores over 9/10.

Anyways, the gameplay is composed of travelling through randomly generated dungeons (meaning the layout is different every time you visit any dungeon) filled with hostile Pokemon to fulfill an objective, be that rescuing a lost friendly Pokemon, finding an item, or beating a boss Pokemon. You play as either Pikachu, Axew, Tepig, Oshawott, or Snivy (you choose at the beginning of the game), and you have an AI controlled partner that you choose out of those five Pokemon. They follow you while you go through dungeons and battle Pokemon. Later in the game, you can also recruit Pokemon who you defeat in dungeons and use up to four at a time on your team.

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For me, it wasn’t difficult to pick my Pokemon. Just look how cute he is!

[Spoilers ahead – skip this paragraph if you don’t want to spoil the plot!]

The plot of this game is, in my opinion, far better than the main series Pokemon games. While I must admit I’ve never played another PMD game, compared to the Pokemon plots I’m used to, this game was like reading Atlas Shrugged after having read only the Twilight series! My Absol-ute (heh, get it?) favourite thing about the plot is its dark tones. While there have been previous Pokemon games with darker undertones (Team Rocket mutilating Slowpoke in G/S/C, Pokedex entries, etc.), they were rarely the focus of the entire game. Here, the whole plot is that the entire world is going to be destroyed and every Pokemon killed (er… “disappeared”) because there are so few Pokemon who trust and love each other. That’s right, everyone is too damn pessimistic, so they’re all going to die… lovely. I’d go into more detail, but I really want you guys to experience the fine details yourself. [End spoilers]

Another thing that this game has are incredible characters. There is a huge variety of characters that I love or hate for various reasons. For example, our friend Dunsparce is deeply in love with Virizion. Early on, he asks her “to be his friend” (pretty safe to assume they meant romantic connotations, but they wanted to keep this game’s E rating). She brutally rejects him, and he literally cries. I felt a huge amount of rage towards Virizion. However, throughout the game, she slowly starts growing to be Dunsparce’s friend, which just gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside. There are also a few really fun and quirky characters, like the GLORIOUS gold seeking Cofagrigus, hmm… Quagsire, and my personal favourite, Victini and his… V-WHEEEEEEEL!

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I’m not sure if enthusiasm like that can be natural… has he been taking Rare Candy?

In fact, the only character I don’t like is your companion (that you also choose at the beginning of the game). He’s just far too annoyingly perfect, with little depth or development other than constantly saying “oh, TV, you’re so cool!”. Yes, I’m called TV. Don’t ask why.

The interface, or “hub”, if you will, of this game is your Pokemon Paradise that your partner purchases early in the story. Paradise is a very unique hub world. Some of my favourites include Delfino Plaza from Super Mario Sunshine and Rogueport from Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, and those are both pretty clear representations of a usual hub. They have areas to explore with some extra items, and progressing through the game in the actual levels opens up more parts of the hub. In Pokemon Mystery Dungeon GTI, things couldn’t be more different. Paradise is split into two areas: a lower area with a couple shops, the place where you can change which Pokemon are on your team, the request board (where you pick your missions) and a building facility (which I’ll explain shortly). Then, there’s a completely customizable upper area which you can fill with shops, mini games, dojos (to train your moves) and fields (to grow berries and seeds) via the aforementioned Gurdurr building facility! What’s so great about this system is that your Paradise is most likely going to be completely unique from anybody else’s! Throw in the fact that you need certain materials to build certain facilities, and that you gain said materials by doing missions, you really feel rewarded after doing a mission!

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Now if only you could have one of these, then it would truly be Paradise…

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity is not an incredibly difficult game, and its length depends on a few factors. If you simply do the bare minimum required of you to go through the story mode, it’ll take about twenty hours. However, if you decide to do the boss challenge missions, build up Paradise, and play in Companion mode (which just lets you play as any Pokemon on your team who isn’t one of your two starters), then you have a solid 45 hours of gameplay. You can also try to add every Pokemon to your team, however, this requires a fair amount of grinding to evolve the Pokemon you have. The ultimate length extender in this game, however, is the Ultimate Wilds DLC pack. It’s a 99 floor dungeon that requires huge amounts of preparation, although level grinding is not one of those things as the dungeon resets your level to five for the duration of it. I’m still collecting Revival Seeds (they bring you back with full health if you faint) and Pure Seeds (they teleport you next to the stairs that bring you to the next floor). I’d say that if you do absolutely everything available in this game, you’ve got approximately 150 hours of gameplay, with fairly high replay value (perhaps trying the game using different Pokemon).

At its core, the gameplay works like this: you are dropped into a dungeon and you must find the stairs to progress further, eventually finding the exit. You fight hostile Pokemon blocking the way by pressing the L button and choosing from one of your four attacks to use on said Pokemon, with all moves, types, weaknesses, etc, coming from the main series games. The fights aren’t turn based per se, but after an enemy attacks you, it will wait for you to attack until it does so again. There’s a lot of running around and choosing between paths to take. Sometimes, you’ll get lucky and find the stairs super quick, travelling through a 30 floor dungeon in five minutes, but it can also take a ridiculous amount of time if you’re unlucky. This gameplay style is addictive. So very addictive. I’ve missed many a night’s sleep because of this game.

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In fact, you could say, I got DROWZEE on those late night play sessions! Hah, get it!?!

If you’ve played any of the older Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games, you’ll have these common questions on your head, ‘What’s new?’ and ‘What’s different?’. For one, the game implores into dynamic 3D graphics which are powered by the ever-amazing 3DS console. So good-bye to small itty-bitty views of yourself, you’re going to be in control the whole time. What’s more, the game also uses the 3DS’s AR functions, through which you’d scan different round objects, and be sent into a Magnagate.

Graphically, this is a pretty, but not mind-blowing, game. This was the first opportunity to see Pokemon in the eighth generation of gaming, but it’s honestly not that special. Sure, the colours are pretty and the environments are varied, but there are better looking 3DS games and Pokemon games, such as The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Super Mario 3D Land, and even Pokemon X/Y. As for 3D effects, eh… I had the 3D slider down for pretty much the entire game. The graphics really aren’t a selling point for this title.

A bummer for those seasoned PMD players: Only a few Pokémon from regions older than Unova can be found, and not even the full of Unova itself. Adding up, the Pokémon available reach a underwhelming 144, in contrast to the older games where you could find almost every Pokémon except for the ones gotten by linking two different games of a series. But for all of you people who used to hoard your bags with Apples and Big Apples and weep over a bag too full for treasure, you’re in luck! Hunger isn’t a problem any more, at least for the most part of the game.

Another new spiffy thing is that you’ll be blocked by obstacles, such as poisonous gas, flames, vines and electricity. One thing you could do to stop it is use a Pokémon resistant or good against the obstacle, like use electric types to remove the electricity and use water types to douse the flames. The weather feature have become a bit more challenging, however, since you don’t regenerate health by just walking when there’s a troublesome weather condition present. Those dreaded lookalikes, such as the Oren Berry, are not included in this game, so you’re safe when you think you’ve found the right item. You can even use those Wonder Orbs in boss battles, and not a single ‘mystic force’ would forbid you!

TMs are reusable, and that’s a plus because you don’t have to fret over Used TMs any more. Also, while travelling in dungeons in the post-game, mysterious auras will inhabit dungeons, that will change a few important battle mechanics like regenerating HP and lower speed. A new mysterious addition could be those Mapless Streets and Uncharted Paths, who are quite mysterious to the point that you wouldn’t even know which floor you’re in! Once you get out though, you’ll be back on the track again.

If you die, you’ll have no fear of losing Poké or valuable items, because the only time that’d happen is if you lose to a Kecleon whose shop you’ve robbed (and by the way, he’s now impossible to beat, and you can’t recruit him). Special tiles have now been expanded, like the Wonder Tile that appeared in the earlier games, and now there’s more to them, like a tile standing on which you can land two attacks in one turn.

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That’ll just be all of your money, thank you come again.

Recruited and Partner Pokémon that are not brought into a dungeon still receive experience points when the player completes dungeons. Once the Pokémon are brought into another dungeon, the recruited Pokémon will level up from the experience it had gained without being absent from the group. Now that’s pretty great since you cannot always travel together all the time.

Team Skills replace IQ skills that the older games had, which is good, because unlike IQ skills, Team Skills that are active affect all of the player’s Pokémon. In some dungeons, enemy Pokémon can evolve if they defeat one of the party members or if they are given a certain item. This often happens in Magnagate Dungeons. And don’t be looking at a silly Magikarp with concern just because of that!

And lastly, if items are dropped in water, fire, or chasms, they are automatically placed on the nearest path, contrary to previous games where they were submerged or destroyed. In the other Mystery Dungeon games, the job bulletin board will have two lists, but in this game there are five for both boards. That’s just to promote you to do more jobs! Job requests can only be fulfilled one at a time though, even if they are in the same dungeon. That’s the biggest bummer of things.

Guys, I just really like PMD: Gates to Infinity. Seriously, this is like one of my favourite games. So, I’m just gonna let it all out, and gush about this awesome game!

-Wasn’t it awesome how you heard lots of different Pokemon go “hah… hah… hah…” during lots of different cutscenes with sinister things happening? Such as Espeon running for her life from Toxicroak, and we didn’t exactly know what it meant, but when the Pokemon were suffocating in the Great Glacier, they all started saying “hah… hah…”, so what had been really creepy and mysterious was revealed as the sound Pokemon make when they’re having trouble breathing!

-It was so cool when there was a mission on the boss challenge request board that didn’t say what Pokemon you would be fighting, you accepted it, and it was a HUGE Reshiram! It was such a tough fight, and when you beat it, you just felt so incredibly accomplished!

-Wasn’t it great how you could spin Victini’s V-Wheel to change the V Waves (which make a certain Pokemon type much stronger for a single mission) and you could bribe him to make your odds of winning and picking the type you want higher, even to the point of it being certain that you win? ‘Cause if you were going on a huge expedition, like the Ultimate Wilds, you could plan to bring Pokemon of the V Wave type you pick! It’s brilliant! It’s amazing!

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That wheel sure is blinged out.

In conclusion, this game is one of my personal all time favourites, right up there with The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker and Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door. I’m a die hard fan of Pokemon, as my 900 hours on my original Pokemon Emerald file can attest to, and if you share the same type of fanaticism over Pokemon, this game is a must play. However, I wouldn’t just recommend it to Pokemon fans! If you’re a fan of a good dungeon crawl or a really great story, then this is the game for you! In fact, I’d say it’s the best game currently available on the 3DS, and a must buy!



Written by Richard Fightmaster and Hoenn
Edited by An-chan, Bay Alexison and bobandbill

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