Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity Review

It's as cute as a button, but dull, simplistic dungeon exploration drags Gates to Infinity into mediocrity.

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The genre of game known as "roguelike" has traditionally been something of a tough sell to the mass market. Typical elements of these games, such as procedurally generated areas and the loss of valuable items and experience upon (often quite common) death, tend to turn off players who view them as too punishing. The Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series has been an anomaly in the genre: it retains a few key genre features, does away with a lot of the usual stress and penalties, and is all dressed up in a cute and cuddly Pokemon theme. However, as demonstrated by the newest installment, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity, toning down what makes a genre distinct can rob it of its appeal.

How cute? SO VERY CUTE.

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity begins with you, the player, having awoken from a nightmare. That's not the only shock: you've been mysteriously transformed into a Pokemon and sent to a world where humans don't exist. When you meet another Pokemon companion (you select both your own Pokemon type and your companion's from five different options), you make fast friends and agree to help them achieve their goal of building a paradise for Pokemon. But that lofty goal is even tougher than it seems: the peaceful Pokemon societies have become corrupted by greed and violence. You and your pal can help restore order, however, by acting as freelance do-gooders: exploring strange mystery dungeons and completing requests to earn respect and rewards from your fellow Pokemon.

It's quite charming to see the Pokemon interact and speak directly with each other, which doesn't happen in the main games. But for such a simplistic premise and story, it is exceptionally wordy, and because there's no way to skip dialogue or increase the text speed, the story sequences transform from cute diversions to annoying barriers keeping you away from the rest of the game.

Not that the rest of the game is particularly great. When you aren't listening to various Pokemon woes, you're exploring randomly generated mystery dungeons to accomplish various missions, both mandatory and optional. By completing these dungeons, you're rewarded with items and the loot you collected. Some of these items can be used as material to clear land and build new facilities for your Pokemon paradise. The upgrading and expansion of your commune is the high point of the game: it's satisfying to watch your town grow from a wasteland to a bustling hub of Pokemon activity. The problem is that this is a small portion of the game compared to the story scenes and dungeon exploration.

Gurdurr's a great builder, but still one of the worst Pokemon designs ever.

In fact, it's the dungeon exploration that drags the game down more than anything else. While the dungeons are rooted in genre traditions of the roguelike--multi-floor structures of mostly randomly generated layouts, enemies, and loot--they strip away much of the danger, challenge, and thrill that make that sort of game compelling, leaving Gates to Infinity feeling like a dreadfully dull husk of a much better title. Dungeons are pretty but samey-looking, with nondescript backgrounds and floors often devoid of treasures that compel you to explore and put yourself at risk, but with plenty of generally easy enemies to impede your progress. Traps and hazards are also sparse, taking away the thrill of exploration and the strategy of using them against your foes. A hallmark of the roguelike is the danger and risk inherent in every step and action you take, as is using limited resources cleverly for survival. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon doesn't entirely remove these elements, but deemphasizes them to the point where the game becomes simplistic and boring. Some dungeons try to spice things up by implementing incredibly basic puzzles, but these do little to break up the monotony.

Combat, at least, is a bit more involved. As in the core Pokemon games, each creature has four different commands to use when fighting foes. Skills have limited usage, so you can't expect to repeatedly use effective techniques without eventually running short and needing to use restoration items. Each skill levels up independently, meaning that more frequently used techniques grow more powerful over time. Levels of Pokemon and skills carry over between dungeons, instead of resetting as they often do in other roguelikes.

After defeating them, you can also recruit new Pokemon to join your party, and take up to three CPU-controlled helpers with you in each dungeon. This makes the already diluted gameplay even simpler, because you can use a companion as an easy shield if you wind up in even the slightest bit of danger. This mechanic introduces its own set of annoyances, however: CPU companions set to attack tend to spam the most limited techniques like they're going out of style, wasting valuable uses on otherwise easy foes. You can also give basic generalized commands to your CPU companions that enable them to split up and explore on their own, which they also occasionally manage to do independently. If any one of them gets defeated (and they often do, typically by otherwise ridiculously weak, unseen foes), it counts as a defeat for everyone; it's either give up or set a StreetPass signal and hope somebody you walk by rescues you. If you give up, you lose some, but not all, of the items and funds you're carrying. It's frustrating to have an otherwise easy dungeon trek ruined by a Pokemon pal who wanders off and gets into trouble.

Here, the game describes its own dungeon exploration experience.

One of the better features of the game isn't even in the main game itself. The extraneous Magnagate AR feature lets you randomly generate a completely original dungeon using a picture of a circular object snapped with the 3DS's built-in camera. These dungeons tend to be more complex and challenging than those in the main game, featuring better (and more frequent) loot, tougher enemies, and more interesting Pokemon companions (along with the elimination of the "one falls and everyone fails" rule). These dungeons give high-quality items that can be transferred to the main game or stored for later re-exploration. But despite their relative improvement in quality, these dungeons are still pretty dull overall.

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity sits firmly in mediocrity: it's not poorly made and designed, but it fails to deliver much excitement or fun. It's also not clear just who this game's target audience is: the controls and mechanics are a bit too complex and confusing for younger players, but they're far too stripped and simplistic for older genre fans. What results is a game that ultimately isn't quite right for anyone.

The Good
Colorful, appealing visuals
Pleasant music
The Pokemon and their interactions are undeniably cute and charming
Town building aspect is engaging
The Bad
Dungeons tend to be dull and samey
Overly simplified roguelike gameplay is uninteresting
Long, annoying story sequences with no skip or text speed adjustment
CPU companions are as dumb as dirt
5
Mediocre
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86 comments
raykyogrou02
raykyogrou02

Story mode is BORING as shit.  Endless, non-stop dialogue (that you can't skip! or speed up!).  Right now, I'm at the last part where I beat the evil floating icicle and I think I've been waiting an hour for the dialogue to be over and the credits to roll (raping the A button doesn't make it go away faster).  I think there's even a part in the game where it just saves in-between dialogue and cutscenes.  

The dungeons are fun but it gets repetitive after a few floors (but the new out-of-the dungeon variety floors helps solve that)  

What I think is most disappointing is that the only available Pokémon are the 5th generation ones plus a few from the previous like Pikachu, Espeon, Umbreon, etc.  

The graphics are way better than ever, but the 3D isn't exactly something to gloat about.  (I don't know about you people, but I always get a headache if I play too long in 3D)  

What else..Hmmm.  The Beartic mini-game where you throw pucks in a hole is fun, the Starmie one is confusing and hard to control (gyroscope). 

 "Paradise" and all of its shops and upgrading stuff is fun, it makes collecting money worth it ever since they got rid of the friend zones from red&blue.

The controls have improved.  For example, the shortcut to an attack actually provides shortcuts to all four learned moves instead of just one pre-programmed one.  The "team attack" is a welcome addition as well as training moves.  

Overall, I think it's a great game but I would not have bought it for a while if Luigi's Mansion 2 wasn't sold out (because back in March Nintendo had a free-game offer if you bought either of them and a 3DS XL and I was getting a 3DS XL anyways)

Read my blog! :http://worldwide-thoughts.blogspot.com/

XxJIBYxX
XxJIBYxX

I loved the previous Mystery Dungeon games, I beat MD: Blue, Explorers of Time, and Explorers of Darkness. Though I do agree that at least an option to speed up the text flow would be nice, I am getting this game nonetheless, I stopped trusting GameSpot's scores for games a long time ago, as well as their reviews, but I still like to read them to see if there's actually any REAL downsides to a game. I'll be playing the hell out of the demo as the save file from the demo transfers over to the real game so long as you don't delete the demo beforehand.

megakick
megakick

Nintendo needs new IP and to rework old IP. Nintendo can't keep going to the past if they want to survive.

snake63
snake63

Why does this game have extra content you have to pay for? It's a game for kids and Nintendo should know better.

Mega200x
Mega200x

Moar cancelation plz :S... srsly wtf capcom???

chazy035
chazy035

IGN.COM GAVE THIS GAME A BETTER SCORE. SCREW YOU GAMESPOT!!! YOU HATE NINTENDO!!

Coldpain
Coldpain

The demo for this game was so bogged down in conversation it was a miracle I ever got to actually play. I agree that adding an option to fast-forward and/or skip text would be a godsend.

kdaere
kdaere

How about we get a real Pokemon RPG! 

I'll take a remastered version of Red/Blue/Yellow too.

SadPSPAddict
SadPSPAddict

Hey everyone. As normal add between 1.5 and 2 out of 10 to any GS review for a handheld game.

As has been the case for a long time the GS reviewers start reviewing a handheld game at 8/10 and go from there!

Do I even like Pokemon? No! So I don't care about this game one way or the other - just a general observation :)

Big_Pecks
Big_Pecks

Gamespot's Pokemon hate only increases. There's no doubt that GtI is a mediocre game, but when X and Y don't get over a 6.5, then there will really be people raging.

Phange_2
Phange_2

Roguelikes can be great. Even the Mystery Dungeon series is usually quite good. But the problem is that Pokemon and Roguelikes go about as well together as grape jelly and albacore tuna - both good on their own, but a train wreck together.


Leboyo56
Leboyo56

You know, I'd honestly rather see another Pokemon Ranger game for the 3DS than another Mystery Dungeon. PR is my favorite spin-off, other than maybe Coliseum/Gale of Darkness. 

CherryEgo
CherryEgo

I think it's funny that this franchise still exists. It's been mediocre ever since the first game, and yet they keep pushing them out. There hasn't been a good Pokemon spin off since Stadium 2.

grbolivar
grbolivar

I can still see pixels in Nintendo's games... YUCK!!!

Bubblikid
Bubblikid

The end of the review harps a lot on "if one dies, you lose" as a mechanic.  This is not a mechanic in every dungeon, just story dungeons.  I just died for the first time after playing for over 10 hours.  Gamespot has never reviewed Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games highly and I didn't expect this game to be any different.  As a fan, I find it just as charming and fun as the other installments.  Don't write it off based on this review.  Play the demo and form your own opinion instead.

GH05T-666
GH05T-666

Aw i was going to get this but after seeing this review i think ill just wait for Pokemon X & Y

EasyComeEasyGo
EasyComeEasyGo

Thanks gamespot for the review but I play the first Pokemon Mystery Dungeon on DS and I didn't like it at all and I will not be fool again by this game. Thanks but no thanks Nintendo and I'm sure everyone will just wait for Pokemon X,Y in October.

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

I would've considered it but I was turned off by the demo, I'm content with Pokemon Conquest and now eagerly awaiting Pokemon X (first Pokemon RPG I'll be getting ever :P)

SIDEFX1
SIDEFX1

Pretty cool review actually..

darkwarriorx7
darkwarriorx7

@chazy035 you know that IGN gives a shitty score for some good games like castlevania lords of shadows .

Don´t trust any reviews specially from gamespot and ign there are unprofessional , trust your own thinking  

foamywafflz
foamywafflz

@kdaere Why does no one realize we got that in Fire Red and Leaf Green? And if people are still pissy we also got Hear Gold and Soul Silver which allowed us to visit Kanto! SO YEAH, WE ALREADY GOT THAT PEOPLE, STOP COMPLAINING!!!!

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

@CherryEgo Have you played Gale of Darkness or Ranger: Shadows of Almia? Sure, GoD was a limited RPG, but it represented the franchise very well and was overall a quality experience, while SoA was addictive and just plain fun.

foamywafflz
foamywafflz

@grbolivar 2 things.

1) It's an art-style in Black and White.

2) YOUR ICON IS MOTHER F**KING MEGA MAN!!!!

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

@PSBEATSALLDEAL You know, I'm a die-hard Playstation fan, but that comment just made me a bit ashamed to be in the same fan base as you. Nintendo's still got game, they just really need to listen to consumers for once. Seriously, it's taken way too long for them to make a 3D open-world console Pokemon RPG.

mario113
mario113

@abHS4L88 don't be shy to try some of the older entries I recommend heartgold or soulsilver

Wayne_Alfonz
Wayne_Alfonz

@darkwarriorx7 First of all, Mirror of Fate sucks ballz big time. It doesn't even measure up to the Castlevania series on the GameBoy Advance and the older DS systems. Secondly, I am a HUGE castlevania fan but I had to skip Mirror of Fate altogether.

chazy035
chazy035

@darkwarriorx7 Bullshit... that game is also crap.

Crimson_Erskine
Crimson_Erskine

@xHallelujah @grbolivar The world needs people to like ugly things, how else will the ugly people get laid? I find calling pixilated images art a con though. It's simply lazy tech, not an artistic choice. 

grbolivar
grbolivar

@Ka3DX @grbolivar LOL you can't compare a 1989 game with this crap.... or seems like with Nintendo you actually can with their old and dated hardware still producing pixelated images when for the rest of the world pixels are a thing of the past.

grbolivar
grbolivar

@foamywafflz @PSBEATSALLDEAL LOL poor Nintendorks buying dated hardware at full price. The Wii was already dated in 2006 when it came out and the WiiU is now dated, to be exact: DOA (Dead On Arrival).

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

@Leboyo56 @PSBEATSALLDEAL 

Nintendo has stated that they felt that the core Pokemon series won't work on a home console due to the nature of the game (trading and all that good stuff). Any Pokemon console game would be very different than the core series like Pokepark and Stadium. 

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

@mario113

I played Yellow (it was my brother's) and I know how I can get with games like Pokemon (since I love me some JRPGs) so I'll gladly wait for Pokemon X while I finish up my other games, haha, but thanks for the suggestion.

russelloh
russelloh

@Crimson_Erskine @xHallelujah @grbolivar Pixels take up for more memory space and are more difficult to animate then 3D models most of the time. Every frame for  apixel must be drawn versus applying 3D skins to an engine. Learn your industry. 

foamywafflz
foamywafflz

@grbolivar @Ka3DX The only current Nintendo game I see that is pixelated is Pokemon, but like I said, it's an artstyle! Go play Tekken Tag 2 on the Wii U and then tell me games on Nintendo's consoles look pixelated.

flipecapela
flipecapela

@grbolivar I prefer Zelda Wind Waker over InFamous, Uncharted and God of War all together, and I fucking love and own the 4 games.

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity More Info

First Release on Mar 24, 2013
  • 3DS
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity lets players explore its 3D world where Pokemon speak and adventures are always nearby.
8
Average User RatingOut of 47 User Ratings
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Developed by:
Nintendo
Published by:
Nintendo
Genres:
Role-Playing
Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
Everyone
All Platforms
Mild Cartoon Violence