Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky DS Review
We have a favor to ask of Chun Soft and Nintendo. Could you please get over this dungeon exploring kick with the Pokemon franchise and get back to the usual adventures that your fans have come to know and love? We've already gone through enough of these randomly generated areas in both Explorers of Time and Explorers of Space to realize that it just doesn't work. And, unfortunately, the same goes for the latest addition to the series, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky.
As expected, very little has changed from the previous two games. The developers recycled the graphic engine, with the same interface, types of Pokemon (save for the newly added Riolu and Phanpy) and grid system. On that note, the visuals are still a huge step back from what we've come to expect on the Nintendo DS. (Take a look at Mario and Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story if you need an example.) The animation is minimal, the environments look bland and even the randomly generated dungeons, the game's supposed highlight, are yawn-inducing.
Don't expect the audio to work any magic, either. The music is the same old stuff you heard in the previous Explorers games, and it repeats often. In addition, there are hardly any sound effects, with no voice samples or cool attacks to speak of.
So, that leaves the gameplay, and there's very little to get excited about. Like we said, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon utilizes a traditional battle grid system, where you fight your enemies in turn-based format. Aside from some evolutionary attacks, there's nothing notable. Even worse, the touch-screen controls are sloppy, with no option to use the good old d-pad to direct your Pokemon.
You can take some time out and work with your friends locally through Wi-Fi Connection (although trading items is limited, strangely enough), or stop by the Wonder Mall S to do some shopping, but other than that, there's nothing significant that'll keep you drawn in, unless you're a tried and true Pokemon fan. Even then, you'll probably put up with this game for so long before returning to Diamond or Pearl.
There are other problems as well. One of the key highlights for the game, the Special Episodes, are hardly special at all. These are unlockable over the course of the game, offering side stories for Pokemon fans to venture through. Unfortunately, they're nothing more than glorified story boards, where you barely do anything. Eight new dungeons are also included, but unless you've got a keen knowledge of Pokemon history, you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between these and the regular dungeons. Finally, the Wonder Mall S, a supposedly improved version of the original shopping feature from the previous games, has new features, but they're only usable with other copies of Sky, and not Time or Space.
We're being fair in giving Pokemon Mystery Dungeon a 2 out of 5, because it's not as dreadful as some of the crappy RPG fare we've dealt with. Still, that doesn't make up for the lazy recycling. There's barely any new content to sift through in this third chapter, and most of it fails to impress. Nintendo needs to rejuvenate this brand or scuttle it entirely. We're sick of going through dungeons. Show us something new.
What's Hot: Wi-Fi Connectivity, unlockable episodes and two new characters for dedicated Pokemon fans.
What's Not: The special episodes are anything but, graphics and sound aren't up to DS standards, Wi-Fi Connection is limited in the Wonder Mall S, boring dungeon exploration, horrible touch screen controls.