The Foundation Is Built
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon is a spin-off Pokémon game series that combines the cuteness of Pokémon with the gameplay of a rogue-like dungeon crawler. Developed by Spike Chunsoft, the series originally debuted on both the Game Boy Advance and the Nintendo DS in 2005 with the games Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Red Rescue Team and Blue Rescue Team. Unlike the mainline Pokémon games where you are a human Pokémon trainer that are catching and training Pokémon, these games typically feature the human becoming a Pokémon and going on adventures with other Pokémon.
This year, I got to rediscover Pokémon Mystery Dungeon when I bought a digital copy of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Gates To Infinity for Nintendo 3DS. Although there is another 3DS Mystery Dungeon game called Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon, this game’s allegedly hard difficulty combined with a lack of SD card space prompted me to get the former instead. There were noticeable differences between this game and what I remember of Explorers of Darkness, such as the lack of a personality quiz that determined what Pokémon you become. However, I soon forgot about it due to the game’s cute 3D graphics and one particular game feature that was new: town building.
One part of Gates To Infinity‘s premise is that you are a human transformed into a Pokémon by a mysterious voice and sent to a world inhabited by Pokémon in order to save it. The other part is that the Pokémon want to build a town that will become a paradise for all. Since the Pokémon world is filled with Pokémon that are distrustful of each other and a strange ominousness hangs in the air, your partner Pokémon feels that a Pokémon Paradise will bring back hope to Pokémon everywhere. When you first meet and choose your partner Pokémon, you go with them as they buy a plot of desert land that will be the building grounds for their Pokémon Paradise.
Nurturing The Town
Of course, building a Pokémon Paradise is easier said than done. At first, you and your Pokémon partner don’t even have a house to stay in. It isn’t until you visit the nearby town called Post Town and befriend the Pokémon known as Gardurr and the Timber Brothers that things start to get rolling. It is this first encounter with Gardurr and the Timber Brothers that sets the tone for not only how the Pokémon Paradise gets started, but also how the Pokémon Paradise will grow as the story progresses.
When you first meet Gardurr and The Timber Brothers to get them to build you a house, they try to scam you until you and your Pokemon partner chase them down and confront them. The Timber Brothers explain how Gardurr lost faith in his ability to build things due to another Pokémon taking advantage of him and literally destroying his trust. After the two apologize for the scam, the Timber Brothers help you convince Gardurr to build the house for your and your Pokémon partner. Upon expressing your delight about the house, Gardurr and the Timber Brothers decide to become a member of the Pokémon Paradise and build more things whenever you want them.
From there, you can decide on what the Pokémon Paradise currently needs. When I was starting out, I decided to build a Oran Berry field so that I would never run out of berries to replenish my HP. Before I could build the berry field, I had to prepare the land so that it was suitable to build on. Preparing land and building new things require materials that you get by fulfilling requests on the Pokémon Paradise request board, which are basically subquests in the game that consist of fetch quests, rescuing a particular Pokémon, or defeating a Pokémon outlaw. As you progress through each dungeon for the subquest, you also have the opportunity to recruit defeated Pokémon to join the Pokémon Paradise.
The Town of Companions and Hope
While you can also get materials for preparing land and building things and recruit more Pokémon in the main storyline, there isn’t much time to do subquests unless you switch to the game’s Companion Mode, which lets you play as the Pokémon left behind in Paradise while you and your Pokémon partner are elsewhere. Spending enough time in Companion Mode will let you build places and gain items such as orbs and seeds that you can also use in Story Mode. Doing subquests in Companion Mode will also let you gain points to raise the rank of the Pokémon Paradise, which lets you build a greater variety of things and recruit more Pokémon.
In fact, the key to having the most practical and bustling Pokémon Paradise is to fill it up with as many Pokémon and facilities as possible. The more Pokémon you recruit, the more you can switch up your team members for certain subquests. Likewise, the more facilities you have, the more you will be able to supply the Pokémon with what they need to have successful missions. One of my favorite Pokémon that I managed to recruit is the Dark type Pokémon Gothorita, which came in handy when fighting Psychic type Pokémon in certain dungeons. Besides building berry fields, other handy places that I made were Reviver Seed fields that grew seeds that let you revive a fainted Pokémon and a swap shop that let you trade items in the Pokémon Storage box for other things.
Although it is probably possible to beat the game without spending too much time developing the Pokémon Paradise, not doing so would’ve dampened the spirit of camaraderie established by the game’s main storyline. The Pokémon Paradise is not just a side event; it is the embodiment of the newfound hope that the Pokémon gradually develop. Gardurr and The Timber Brothers are only the first Pokémon to feel this hope and you get the sense of it increasing as you progress through the storyline, recruit more Pokémon, and enhance the Pokémon Paradise.
One of the most heartfelt aspects of the game is when an Umbreon and Espeon ask to join the Paradise in order to get assistance to complete their research about how to access a hard to reach area known as The Great Glacier. At this point, you and your Pokémon partner have rescued these two with the help of the tools and Pokémon you have at Pokémon Paradise. For Umbreon and Espeon to join the Pokémon Paradise after getting separated and struggling on their own shows that hope can be made by one or more people lending a hand.