Pokemon Mystery Dungeon is my favourite spin-off of any franchise to date.

User Rating: 8.5 | Pokemon Fushigi no Dungeon: Aka no Kyuujotai GBA
Back in 2006, I would be sitting outside on a lawn chair playing Pokemon 24/7. I would consistently start new games once I've beaten it, and build myself a new team to experiment. Then, once I finished, I would go back inside. I would see my brother watching TV, and I notice a commercial. This commercial showed gameplay of a Pokemon game where you play as the Pokemon, and you explore dungeons and fight other Pokemon. I begged my dad to go with me for the release date, and that would be the day that I bought Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team. Back then, it was mind-blowing, and it still is to this day.

The game starts you off with a questionnaire. This questionnaire is answered by you to determine what Pokemon you are going to be once it's done. After you finish it, you are given your Pokemon, and you can now choose a partner of a different type (if you are a fire Pokemon, you cannot have a fire partner). This system is always fun when you start a new game, and I absolutely love it, but I would have liked to see the option of actually choosing what Pokemon you want to be. You would have to answer the questions properly to become what you want. It does make for a lot of fun when you decide to experiment, which was the point of the whole thing.

After all of that, you go into Chapter 1, as the game's story is told through chapters. *SPOILER ALERT* You are a human that has turned into a Pokemon. You wake up in some woods, and your partner, who doesn't know who you are yet, finds you and questions you. Soon enough, a Butterfree will come and ask for help because her darling Caterpie is lost in the Tiny Woods, and wild Pokemon are raging as of late, as your partner states. You agree to go with your partner and save Caterpie. This is when the game starts. They place you in a dungeon with a random layout geographically, and wild Pokemon attacking you. You have to fight through them using your moves and strategies, which I will talk about later. There are items spread out everywhere to aid you, such as Oran berries which heal health. Once you find and rescue Caterpie, your partner takes you to a house that they have, which they decide to give to you. They then ask you if you want to join a rescue team with them, and once you say yes, this is when the story truly begins.
The story is phenomenal in PMD: RRT. I was shocked at the amount of depth and even controversy this game gets into dealing with everything. You will see a lot of things unfold, and it is worth it to play just to find out what is going to happen.

The audio is very good in PMD. It gives some familiar Pokemon soundtracks, and has melodies specifically for each dungeon you visit, and each one fits. The sound effects are good too, although having to hear each letter being typed out in the dialogue wears on your ears sometimes, but you get used to it. PMD also suffers from the case of "The character you are doesn't physically speak with everybody else, but everybody else seems to understand and repeat what you say" syndrome. Overall, the audio is good, the beeps are almost there, but not quite, and the music is relaxing.

The gameplay in PMD is downright complex and deep, for a Pokemon game. It has a minor learning curve, but in order to play the game strategically with expertise, you'll need to know how things work. I won't talk much about the basics, you move, attack enemies with either a basic hit or use a move that does more damage but takes up a Power Point (like all Pokemon games), eat apples to regain your Hunger meter, and use the resources available in town, such as Felicity Bank and Kanghaskan Storage, and I won't spoil the rest. The complex part, on the other hand, is the way you play in the dungeons. There are things in the game called Gummis. These are not essential to beating the game, but you will have a tough time without them. By eating a Gummi, you gain IQ. Once you eat enough Gummis, you gain an ability to use. The way you use these abilities in dungeons will affect everything. If you don't feed your partner Gummis, they will be essentially useless. You can only maintain 3 abilities at once, and you are able to select what abilities your partner uses, as well as their moveset, which is the difference between wasting a Reviver Seed or not. And if you ever come across a Monster House, be properly equipped with the right orb, lest you want to die. It is bitter work, but the end result is worth it.

Now, obviously, your partner isn't going to be your only companion during dungeon exploring. This is a team, correct? Yes, therefore, you will need to recruit more Pokemon. That is done by obtaining Friend Areas from Wigglytuff in town. Certain Friend Areas are for certain types of Pokemon, and the more Areas you have, the more Pokemon you can recruit. You recruit Pokemon by fighting them as normal, and randomly, one that you defeated will either disappear as usual, or ask to be on your team. This system is flawed like the questionnaire, because it is pure random. If you ever wanted to recruit a legendary, you would need to fight them repeatedly by going through the entire dungeon again and again until they offer, which becomes tedious very quickly, but just like the Gummis, it is worth it.

I love this series, and I continue to play it 6 years into it. There is just a lot of fun to be had here, despite the tendency of being random at times. If you are a Pokemon fan, you will get a kick out of this, and maybe come back to it time and time again, because it never gets old. You don't need to play the first in the series (which is this one) to understand the one in the next. It is a beautifully made series, and I highly recommend it.