What if you awakened one day as a Pokemon? What if all of a sudden you find yourself in an unknown world, where you can speak and interact with many other Pokemon? Well essentially, that's what happens in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team; you wake up one day in a strange new world where you have become a Pokemon. You'll embark upon a mission where you must interact with other Pokemon to try and unravel the mysteries of this new world, as well as trying to find out how you turned into a Pokemon, and what must be done to return to your human form.
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team – a Nintendo DS exclusive – was released alongside with Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team – a Game Boy Advance exclusive way back in 2006. Though both games are practically identical in content, Blue Rescue Team uses the DS' two screens as opposed to the one screen on Red Rescue Team. Besides that, the only major differences between the versions are the handful of exclusive Pokemon local to each system.
Before starting your quest, the game will ask you a series of questions. These questions will then determine which Pokemon you will play as. Once you have answered the questions, you then get to pick a partner; there are 16 partners in total, but you can't pick the same Pokemon as you are and you also can't pick a Pokemon of the same type as you. For example, if you awaken as Squirtle, you can't choose Squirtle, Totodile, or Mudkip as your partner.
Shortly after beginning you adventure, you'll discover the first dungeon, Tiny Woods. In this dungeon is where you get your first objective, to rescue Caterpie on the dungeon's very bottom floor. While questing to the bottom of the dungeon, you'll collect items and Poke – the currency of the game – and will also engage in battles with other Pokemon; winning battles these will gain you experience points. It's worthwhile mentioning that each time you visit a floor it'll be completely different, which is due to the game's dungeon generator. Of course, there are a few events that are supposed to occur on particular levels, so these always remain the same.
Your goal on each floor is to make your way to the stairs that will bring you to the next level. As previously mentioned, the game has a random dungeon generator so there is no set location for where the stairs will be placed. However, what you can expect to be the same are the Pokemon you encounter on each floor; specific Pokemon populate each of the dungeons' floors. In the first few levels you can expect to see weak Pokemon, but as you progress through the game they become increasingly stronger.
The overall objective of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon is to explore the land, rescue Pokemon, and help the pocket monsters with their conflicts. To do this, you'll need to recruit Pokemon; on paper, recruiting Pokemon is straightforward – all you have to do is to battle them. Unfortunately, it isn't as easy as it sounds; there are quite a few things that affect whether or not Pokemon will ask to join your rescue team – luck is the strongest of all these elements. You also must must ensure that you have a specific Friend Area – a place where the Pokemon can reside when not out in the field – for any such Pokemon you wish to recruit.
While it may sound interesting, the gameplay is repetitive and has the tendency to grate on you. On top of this is our biggest issue with Pokemon Mystery Dungeon; it was obviously designed for that Game Boy Advance. Blue Rescue Team is evidently a port of Red Rescue Team, with a few extra features thrown in last minute. The quality is at the point where it seems as if the developers made no effort to enhance the graphics of this DS version – it literally looks like its GBA counterpart! We found it disheartening to see that the DS and GBA games are practically identical, with the only exceptions being the use of another screen and a few exclusive Pokemon.
It is true enough that after completing the main storyline, there are plenty of things left to do – more rescue missions will emerge for you to embark upon, and you'll get lots opportunities to go to dungeons where legendary Pokemon reside – however, you'll probably end up getting despondent with playing the main quest, and these extra dungeons won't provide much incentive to continue playing.
Overall, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon is a decent addition to anyone's DS library, but keep in mind that the game feels – and plays – like a Game Boy Advance title. If you can cope with Mystery Dungeon's shortcomings and don't mind the repetitive gameplay, you're bound to have a blast playing it. If you're also debating on which version to buy, we recommend the Nintendo DS version as it is of a slightly better quality than its GBA sibling.