Immediately obvious when you boot up the remake is the fresh coat of paint. The maps are lovely landscapes that look like watercolour paintings, while the Pokémon are now presented in three dimensions, though the models are the same ones we’ve been seeing since Pokémon X and Y in 2013. However, some new textures have been put on them though to complete that watercolour look.
As a kid, this was the first time a video-game made me cry.
Personally, my favourite change is simple: you can push Pokémon around the map when you’re not in a dungeon - I may have spent five minutes pushing Lombre to the town’s edge. Do I regret it? Not at all.
In terms of gameplay, it’s close to the originals, but there have definitely been some modernisations. My Torchic started off the demo with four moves rather than just Scratch and Ember, so I had a pretty strong moveset, to begin with. It did raise some concerns that the game was going to be easier than the original, but with this change comes another: the basic A-button attack is gone, so the limited number of times a move can be used plays a bigger role.
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Recruitment and team building have also been reworked. ‘Friend areas’ have been condensed into ‘camps’, which are lists rather than explorable areas. The old sprites are used here, which is a nice touch. Recruits can also have ‘rare qualities’, which can do various things like make it easier to recruit other members. You can also only bring in three Pokémon into dungeons now instead of four, though you can recruit up to eight at a time to expand your team. Fatigued Pokémon can also be recruited if you give them apples because food is the way to everyone’s heart.
Makuhita’s Dojo is also much better now: I found myself leveling up twice on my first visit, so I swore I wouldn’t go back there unless a boss was giving me trouble (which, knowing this game, is likely). Even if leveling up is easier, there are ‘strong foes’ littered around maps, and believe me, they put up quite a fight. One hit from the first ‘strong foe’ I encountered, a Rapidash, was enough to knock out my partner. You’d better believe I fled from that fight.
The main area of concern for me after being unhappy with Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire’s remakes was that the soundtrack wouldn’t be given the treatment it deserved. Boy was I wrong. Everything sounds exactly as I remembered, only cleaner than their GBA counterparts. Every track’s a joy to listen to, from the peaceful personality quiz at the start to the more fearsome songs from the later dungeons. Some of the original versions have been in my playlist for years - they’re that good, and the remixes hold up.
Because this game’s a remake of an older one, there’s not much to be said about the story that wasn’t said when the game originally came out. It’s still great and has some moments that, when combined with the great music choices, make for poignant scenes. They make you feel invested in the world and the characters - as a kid, this was the first time a video game made me cry.
Overall, this is a great remake and a really good place for newcomers to jump into the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series. It’s a joyous adventure with cool characters and locations, and there are still difficult moments even if the game is generally easier. I’d recommend trying the demo first since the progress carries over if you buy the game!
Featured image credit: IGDB