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#3 Game Review: Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon

Hey, I wanted to do this again from the beginning as I finished the game last week. I don't know how I feel about it really, I guess I'll just start writting.

Also spoilers for the whole game ahead. So read under your discretion.

The game felt like two completely separate teams did the story and the gameplay. There were many times things they said in the story were contradicted by gameplay elements. An example of this is how in the early game pokemon tell you "you are too strong for your age", and some chapters later you get to see all the other town kid stats and they are all higher level than you.

I want to emphasize that out of all of them, only one of the kids has a story reason for being stronger than you. So yeah, there are times like that that kind of break your immersion.

Moving on to the story itself, I really liked the first half of the story. You wake up as a pokemon, get chased down and have to live as a kid pokemon while you regain your memory. Along the way you meet your classmates, go on adventures and grow with your partner.

It's really cool, all the adventures in Serene Village are great.

After you leave Serene Village and get to Lively town, things still go well in terms of story for a while. You start to learn about a mysterious individual that is turning legendary pokemon to stone (the game also teases this to you in the early chapters). The dungeons and story events are pretty fun.

Something starts here that bothered me. When you enter the Expedition Society onwards everyone treats you like kids that need to be babysitted. You don't feel like the other pokemon are your fellow expedition society members and more like your bodyguards.

The game also never gives you a chance to prove that you don't need to be babysitted. And that's because in a normal playtrough you actually need to be. From here till the end of the game, it gives you constantly NPC allies who are like 20 levels higher than you.

The dungeons are also made with this in mind. You kinda have to turn back and put your NPC in front of you everytime you run into an enemy pokemon. And this problem is constant and really bad, even more when they start pairing you up with legendary pokemon by the end of the game.

This is not my only problem with the story though. There's a moment when you get to a place called The Voidlands. And the latter half you are in this place a pretty bad pattern starts to emerge: Your allies start lying to you.

In the last 5 chapters before the epilogue you get lied to a lot. Your allies manipulate you into dangerous places as a part of THEIR master plan to save the world. That's right, your allies not only babysit you in dungeons, they also solve the plot for you too.

After you return from the voidlands you get to the expedition society building to see if there is somebody alive. Turns out some of your allies are still alive, they have been doing two things while you were gone: finding allies and searching for Primeral Forest. Primeral Forest is where the tree of life is, the magical tree that needs to be saved to save the world.

They haven't found the forest yet. Just then one of the enemies gets anti-mind-controlled and tells you they know where it is. So you say "Wow! A lead to where this mystical forest is, this is suspicious but worth a try."

So you go on a hard dungeon, with an ally that is slightly stronger than you. You finish it and find out it was a trap. But no problem, your allies appear from out of nowhere and save you and also teleport you to Primeral Forest, which they found first.

So you may be asking "Why are the main characters dragged into all of this?" They are kids, who everyone feels they are fragile, everyone is stronger, everyone solves the plot for them. Why are they being teleported to the eye of the storm?

Well at the beginning of the game your partner gives you matching scarves. These scarves are like super magical, and give you a magical girl transformation at some point in the story. Also they are made from the Tree of Life itself and also they prevent you from getting turned to stone and may be the key to stopping the cataclism.

Cool, so you and your partner are the only ones that can use the scarves right? Well no, aparently anyone can use them, you just have to touch them to get these benefits (arceus and the big bad boss say so). So why don't they give the scarves to someone more capable than you? I HAVE NO IDEA!! WHY DON'T THEY DO THAT!?

Near the end of the game the big bad boss, called "Dark Matter" uses its powers to pull the Tree of Life into the sun. This leads to a really cool scene where your partner says "No I won't let you!" and starts leaping from rock to rock in the air to reach it. They've never done anything similar to that, but hey its pretty epic.

Your allies that can fly give them a boost in the air, and even your character does so at the end. It has a beautiful cutscene about trust and friendship. And after all of that your character fails to reach the Tree of Life.

Normally I wouldn't have a problem with this. Now you have to find a way to get up there, maybe through a hard dungeon with an artifact, or something. NOPE, ARCEUS JUST TELEPORTS YOU THERE, NO COOL CUTSCENE, YOU ARE JUST THERE NOW.


Well anyways, you get your magical girl transformation, fight the big bad, do some deep emotional cutscenes and win yay. Afterwards you go back to Serene Village and tell your friends about your adventures. And the ending of the game ensues.

Normally in a PMD game your character has to return to the human world at the end of it, and leads to a pretty sad scene where you have to say goodbye to your partner. This time something different happens, you are not the one that goes away, your partner does. Which I'm all for, like great play with expectations. So what's the reason?

Well apparently your partner is Mew and by defeating and accepting dark matter they have to go because their essense was with dark matter or something? The explanation was not very convincing really, and they become a ball of light and disappear into the sky. When I first finished the game, this was the moment I said, "alright wtf was that?"

The epilogue after that is not very good to. There's more lying, more manipulation, no bosses, just some short dungeons and cutscenes. You get your partner back though, it was inside of the current mew or something.

You know, writting all this got me wishing I wasn't playing as hero and partner. I wish I could've played as Ampharos, the expedition society leader who recruited countless legendary pokemon and found Primeral forest. Or maybe Espurr the kid genius that played as a double agent for ampharos and the bad guys. Or the legendary pokemon who helped stop the tree of life from reaching the sun. Or even the bad guys.

The story is not bad, but you don't feel like a main character. I had the stats of a main character on my second playthorugh because I abussed drugs, but I the story didn't treat me like one.

The dungeons and items were pretty fun, I wish the moves could interact a little more with the environments but the core gameplay is still fun. The first half of the game was pretty good too, I really felt my characters were growing. There were some times they cut on some scenes because of deadlines but yeah.

The bosses were really good too, I felt really smart when I used a pounce wand to get away from Entei and buff myself before coming back to kick their butt. (Except I was supposed to lose that fight aparently and a cutscene played when I was doing too much damage to them. But I still felt pretty smart.)

I could keep on talking about random nitpicks. Like the pokemon nexus system makes no sense because you don't need to explore to complete it. Or the ranking system which ranks don't mean anything, or the drug store that should've been a post game thing. Or the fact that sometimes your favorite pokemon may randomly not be available to go on adventures with you.

Ok, I'll stop. It kind of sucks, I wanted to like this game, but it felt like the scope was too big and they had to cut many of the important storybeats from the story. The first PMD was super special to me, the end of the story wasn't that good, but it did so many good things along the way that it stuck with me.

Playing this made me want to do a comparison between all pmd games, I should get Gates to Infinity first though, haven't played that one. I recently got a switch and got a copy of PMD DX, so I may play that after I finish Vallhalla.

One day I may design a Pokemon Mystery Dungeon game myself for fun. I want a PMD game where all the systems work together with the story, a game that is more than the sum of its parts. I don't want a new PMD game from Spike Chunsoft or Gamefreak though, after playing PSMD It's clear to me we are not going that way.

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