Pokemon. It’s a franchise that’s been around since the late 90’s and one that’s no doubt emptied many parents’ wallets in the past fifteen plus years. Whether it’s the video game series, the CCG, or the countless other types of merchandise, there’s no question that Pokemon is one of the biggest franchises going right now. While puzzle and novelty games have been released for the franchise (such as Pokemon Snap and Pokemon Trozei), the biggest successes seem to be the main core series. However, several years ago a new adventure series began with the first two Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games (Red Rescue Team and Blue Rescue Team). Today I’m going to take a look at the latest entry in the series with Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity.
Similar to previous Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games, the story begins with a human having a dream and eventually turning into a Pokemon and falling into the Pokemon world (yes, literally falling into it). However, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon veterans will notice something different right away: unlike past games where you take a personality test that will decide which of a dozen or so Pokemon you’ll be, in Gates to Infinity you can actually choose which Pokemon you’ll be…from five. Yep, you can be either Snivy, Oshawatt, Tepig, Axew, or Pikachu (the three Unova starters and the other two main Pokemon heavily featured in the Black & White anime) . After arriving in the Pokemon world, your partner (which you choose from the four you didn’t pick for yourself) finds you and talks about wanting to build a Pokemon Paradise.
From here, the main story line begins. For those unfamiliar with the Mystery Dungeon games, you’re basically going through various dungeons which have random layouts. Each day you explore a dungeon and for a while the main story will always progress after each day. After several story events pass, you can start making use of a Request Board to do different requests which allows you to earn money, items, materials for building things in your Paradise, and can help level your team overall. Every now and then a story event will take place, after which you can usually freely do a few more requests before the next main segment of the story takes place.
This is about where the first issue comes into play. After a certain amount of the way through the main story you have a couple more Pokemon join your team. After this, you can take up to four Pokemon into dungeons (two of which have to be yourself and your partner), and after defeating a Pokemon in a dungeon, it may ask to join your team. This is pretty much the collecting aspect of the game. Much like the core series, you’ll want to level different types of Pokemon so you can have multiple Pokemon ready depending on what you encounter in a dungeon, so if one or two don’t work out, you have more ready and waiting. However, regardless of whether you do a request from the request board, take care of a story mission, or just travel through a dungeon on your own accord, you can seemingly only traverse one dungeon a day. Thankfully, that will somewhat change later when you get to access Companion Mode. This lets you basically put the main story on hold and take another team of four through dungeons and handle requests. While it still only lets you do one dungeon per day so to speak, the main story will not progress at all until you switch back from Companion Mode. This is very useful if you wish to level different Pokemon than your main team.
The dungeons themselves are kind of on the simple side of the difficulty level for the most part. While the dungeons are random each time you play through them, there’s not a whole lot of difference between them in the overall design. It’s basically a bunch of narrow corridors with some bigger rooms at the ends of them. I’ve actually had a dungeon in which two of the floors were the exact same design. On top of that, at least twice now I’ve entered a floor in a dungeon only to have the stairs to the next floor right next to where I started. It also doesn’t help that the narrow corridors don’t really play well into battling the enemies you come across. While there are some moves that can hit up to two squares away (Quick Attack seems to be the most common of these), more often than not it’ll be whatever Pokemon is in the front of the line that will be doing most of the attacking. That means if you’re running low on HP or if your attacks aren’t working that well, you have to move back a bit to let the Pokemon behind you try his or her luck. However, the harder difficulty seems to come in spurts. Unless I’m trying to take on a request of a higher difficulty with one or two underleveled Pokemon, the worst of the difficulty comes from one or two Pokemon that seems a little higher powered than the rest of the dungeon.
Now by this time I’m sure you might be wondering just what the Gates to Infinity are. So was I...that is until I saw what the game’s subtitle was in Japan. Whether it’s through the main story or just by observing the main menu, you’ll learn about something called Magnagates. Basically, Magnagates are used to summon portals that can lead to Mystery Dungeons. By choosing an option on the main menu, you can use the 3DS’s outer camera to look for Magnagates in round objects. Once found and unlocked, you can go through the dungeon anytime you wish, but be warned that these dungeons are actually kind of tough. The first one I found was a level three difficulty dungeon and I only had two members in my party: a Pikachu and one other Pokemon. I’m not sure if your party is random each time you go through a particular dungeon, but needless to say I didn’t last too long before coming across a room full of enemies and not making it out alive. Still, being able to create dungeons out of everyday round household objects is an interesting concept.
While I have enjoyed my time with Gates to Infinity, it’s not without its weaknesses. As I just mentioned, the difficulty is quite low for the most part. As long as you keep a decent supply of Oran Berries in you and don’t take underleveled Pokemon into story missions or higher difficulty requests, you shouldn’t have too much trouble. Just make sure to take in a team that covers a few different types (and as a quick recommendation, a fire-type can be a huge help against the steel types Klink and Klank). It also doesn’t help that the move Rollout is incredibly overpowered in my opinion, or maybe it was just the current situation. You’ll eventually learn about something called the V-Cast, which is kind of like a weather forecast, only instead of upcoming weather, it’ll list a certain type of Pokemon. All Pokemon of that type get some benefits for the day, such as increased power. Maybe the Pokemon that used Rollout was the type for the V-Cast for that day, but it took down my Axew in one turn, dealing it 71 damage. You’ll also learn about weather conditions, but the only one I’ve really experienced outside of Clear was Hail, where your team will take gradual damage while they’re on the current floor of the dungeon and they can’t heal themselves just by walking around.
Overall, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity is a fun game, and fans of the Pokemon series and past Mystery Dungeon games will likely get the most enjoyment out of the game. However, the easier difficulty and uninspiring dungeon layouts prevent this from being a truly amazing game. However, the graphics are really nicely done, showing the Pokemon in a 3D environment, the different things you can do between story missions (such as shopping, developing your Paradise, and going into Companion Mode) will keep you busy, and the music is really good. In fact, one of the early dungeon themes honestly reminds me of Chrono Cross for some reason. I didn’t have a chance to get into Streetpass Mode, but I do know it can help when a Pokemon is downed in a dungeon, as other players with Streetpass enabled can help revive any Pokemon that are downed on your team. Bottom line, if you’re a Pokemon fan, Gates to Infinity is definitely worth a look. Just don’t expect things to be too difficult.
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