If were growing up like me, you might have experienced Mom Hid My Game’s base scenario. Your Mom has stolen your game console, as the name of the game would imply, and you have to navigate an ever more elaborate way to get your game boy back to in order to play.
The puzzles were often intuitive. Checking the game boy behind a bookcase, or distracting your mom on the couch so you can get the game boy back. But often they were equally bewildering; cultural signals such as looking under a cushion that would be used to sit on were for someone who could be dealing with someone who wouldn’t be so in tune with other cultures.
One aspect that was credit to Mom Stole my Game was the fact that all the levels are short in nature. For each puzzle the rooms are the same (by in large) so you get a sense of where things are easily placed. Every time the game makes it clear what the threat to your success is, and it has very straightforward clues to your success.
Failure states are always quick and if you don’t find the right answer the first time around, it’s easy to leap back into action.
The only downpoint I can say about it is for accessibility.
This can become one of the biggest frustrations of the game, as these have been hard to time, even for someone who is ablebodied. And there was no way to make it any easier! Ruling out some of the final act of Mom Stole My Game
Not to get spoilers-as it ‘s not worth spoiling this ending. I would encourage players to see Mom Stole My Game ‘s journey through to its end, however. In the final act, there is a marvelous piece of game design and narrative direction that brings the players through a journey of connection to technology and how it affects your relationship with those near you.
Having pumped double digits of hours into the new Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX, I can safely say beyond doubt that this is the most loving entry into the history of the franchise. It will charm old and new players alike. However, much like its first incarnation, there were several opportunities where developer Spike Chunsoft could have made moves to better plan a better player experience where it matters the most and that is within its dungeons.
It all begins with a Question
I remember when I picked up Mystery Dungeon for the first time. I was sitting in Eddie Rockets (Johnny Rockets to my friends in the USA) and when the game asked you to place your finger on the touchpad and begin your quest by answering a series of personality questions. I was hooked, hooked the same way I can remember being hooked playing Pokémon Crystal when the first female playable female protagonist was introduced. The same way I remember being hooked when I first started playing Pokémon Red. I knew that this would be a love affair that would last me my entire life.
Little did I know how right I would be, leaning into all entries regardless of version. A love that would lead me to buy multiple copies and keep old systems around just to go back to that world, that place. A deeper love than maybe the original Pokémon series had on me as the series was more formulaic in its iterations.
Mystery Dungeon was something special to me. Something unique. This wasn’t just a protagonist who I was aiming to be, shoes I was yet to fill. This was my own journey, with my answers, my solutions, with my friends.
So when I heard of the remake it thrilled me to bits to go back into this place, and I’m delighted to say that Spike Chunsoft (the makers of hit visual novel series Danganronpa) made a faithful recreation of the Mystery Dungeon world; with some beautiful ascetic changes.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX is stunningly beautiful in its depiction of the world. It’s the closest thing I’ve come to going “this is exactly what I had in my brain when I was young”. The watercolor imagery captures all that is whimsical, bright and alive in this world. It is bright without being overbearing, a brightness you could stare out at for hours without needing to avert your gaze. Thankfully there are instances in the games where you can pause for a moment to take in your surroundings. Even going so far as to have a dedicated art mode viewer on the main menus.
I’m grateful for that tiniest of little touches to take your time and appreciate the world that you’re in. It encourages a place to go and gather yourself, place your feet firmly on the ground and take your time to get to grips with everything that the game has to offer. It is deceptive in its ability to surprise you. Especially as the game starts to get into the deeper aspects of the story.
Not so Mysterious Dungeon
Formulaic is the kindest word that I can find to describe the gameplay, although a more accurate word would be boring. The dungeon part of Mystery Dungeon is easily the weakest part of the game. Which is unfortunate – as it is the most predominant part of the game. The premise of the mystery dungeon title is that every time you enter a new dungeon it is different from the last one you enter. This means you can only go so far to prepare for what lies ahead of you.
This has its pros and cons, naturally. Pro’s being it does keep the gameplay from being completely dragged down by the sameness of having to go through the same layouts on repeat and you will encounter different sorts of Pokemon on each run you do. Giving you more opportunities depending on rare qualities a likelihood to recruit them onto your squad for more adventures.
Cons, unfortunately, outweigh the pros. You invariably are trying to do quest markers more often than you are doing a quest to boost your rescue teams’ rank because you just can’t bear the thought of having to do any more dungeons. I was doing so many dungeons at one stage I had to take a break because I was getting headaches. That’s not the best sign in the world that your gameplay is engaging or keeps you in a rewarding loop. The items you get from dungeons are, most times, are either completely useless to your objectives or essential items that you need for dungeons; like apples.
The Kecleon Shop that you have access to in the Pokemon main square or occasionally popping up mid dungeon has an uninspired array of items. Apples are essential for longer dungeon runs, as getting hungry will invariably lead to your party fainting if you can’t get some sustenance. The shop only selling one of these a go at any one time just isn’t useful. You have to bank on the ability to either find them in dungeons as they spawn or that the shop in dungeon spawns more than just a single-use item.
What is the biggest gamble of these mystery dungeons is starting them in the first place. There are no hard and fast rules for level requirements and you will find out super quick if you are under the level required for it and with that loss comes the loss of all of your money as well as your items. So if you have had a set of equipment and are fully prepared for your dungeon you could get wiped out in one go by just having an unlucky encounter or worse, a monster house.
Silver linings in unlikely places
There are some incredible accessibility modes that more developers could do with taking on board. Some of these are unique features and others are just sheer thoughtful input created from a thoughtful development process. There is quite literally an overabundance of them. Some of which there has been no fan fair or notice through other outlets, but I can’t tell you how much these things matter for players with disabilities.
Auto mode is a mode where, as the name would imply, allows your character to explore the dungeons without you needing to toggle or hold down buttons in order to explore. The auto mode only ceases when there is an enemy in sight, allowing the players to make a decision on what to do from that point on.
For players with Cognitive difficulties or simply new players who wouldn’t know what the best moves are. They can simply press the A button and the game will make the best decision as to what move to use in order to get the upper hands on your opponents.
One of the best things that I have seen in accessibility tools is the ability to look into highlight words by simply hovering over the words. Each is colour coded into their specific categories so they are distinct from each other at all times. This gives the player the ability to review at any time what is going on or what item will have an effect etc.
Something that goes so understated in video games is the ability to read captions. Thankfully, Spike Chunsoft has been experts in their field when it comes to visual novels. All that experience comes into play with the way that they have used text in this game. Not just in the way that they have used highlight text, as per the example above. But their ability to capture sound in text to tell a story. This level of storytelling should be standard across all titles, as this is a level of care that you take to include people from all backgrounds, levels, and experiences in being able to enjoy your game fully. I can think of no higher praise than this. It is a sheer masterclass of accessibility and something that developers from all around the world can learn from.
A Storys End
There is an awful lot to like about Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX. You can feel the love of the source material from the Spike Chunsoft team and the care that went into developing this game. Using their length and breadth of experiences to breathe new life into a franchise that was feared to be left in obscurity. However, even with the quality of life improvements as well as some stellar accessibility features – it doesn’t stop the game from having some fundamental flaws where it matters the most and that is in its gameplay.
It leads to a larger conversation around remakes, how close should you stay to the sources material in order to maintain its truest self? With other remakes of significance lurking around the corner like Final Fantasy VII, I’m sure this will only be the start of the debate to come. All I know is that I’d appreciate the intention but am sad for the opportunity missed to tweak some mechanics or to expand on what made the series iconic, to begin with.
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With the new release of the Nintendo Switch on Friday the 3rd of March 2017. New owners revel in their new purchase! (Myself included) However, in the excitement, it is always likely to overlook one of the biggest features of the Switch. That is, its portability. If you have just spent €312 on a console that you intend on carrying with you on communities, you should really have a case to carry the thing in! So lets have a run down of the top Nintendo Cases that are available to purchase right now!
SF/Waterfield Design – Switch Case
SF/Waterfield Design are known for protecting they’re gaming kilt. Already having bags for mobile devices such as the 3DS and the Vita, it is no surprise that they’ve created a case for the Switch. Made from Leather, this bag has a stunning appeal in terms of its appearance. You would not mind carrying this pouch around with you in public. It just oozes of class. With room enough for cables, game cards, and headphones this pouch should definitely be a must see for those who are willing to spend a little bit more to get something exceptionally classy.
For those who are looking to move more than just their Switch and Joy-Con around. There is an option for a Multiplayer Pro Case. This can Carry everything from the dock to the Joy-Con Grips all in the typical classy design that you would expect!
Gamestop – Official Nintendo Switch Case
For those who are looking for the more official route. Gamestop Ireland are stocking the Official Nintendo Switch Accessory pack. This pack has the case itself, with the Nintendo Switch logo on the front and comes with a screen protector and kickstand/stand for the Switch included in the bundle. At €20 if you’re looking for the Nintendo solution to your carrying problem, this is a good case to look at!
HORI Switch Tough Case (Nintendo Switch)
For those who are looking for something a little bit more robust in terms of protection, but still are looking for something sleek. The Hori Switch Tough case will be a difficult one to beat. It’s hard shell, and focus on protection of the touchscreen built into the case itself makes this case a great alternative for those who don’t like the hassle of having to worry about screen protectors. (But please, put on screen protectors)
£29.99 at Amazon.co.uk
So what do you think? Are there any more cases I missed that you think should be on this list? What cases did you get for your Switch? Let me know in the comments below.
Remember to give this blog a share on your favourite social media, and don’t forget we have a Nintendo Switch Unboxing over at Should You Care? YouTube.
I’m devastated by the news that Mr Satoru Iwata has passed away at the age of 55 due to a bile duct growth.
Being someone who grew up with the original Gameboy, Nintendo has been a part of my life. Nintendo products have accompanied me through all states of my development – even well into my adulthood. I’ve always been very fond of Mr Iwata as a developer before he became president of Nintendo. I knew deep down that Iwata would have a lasting legacy that would continue well into the mid 2020’s. It’s such a tragedy that his life was cut so short.
Mr Iwata was known for his friendly attitude to fans along with his openness. As one of the first major corporations to peel back the curtain into the inner workings of the gaming industry, he became a much respected and loved figure of modern gaming.
Being such a force of good for Nintendo, bringing around new consoles and the revival of handhelds. Questions now appear as to what’s next for Nintendo at such a precarious time.
Nintendo have recently had a bit of controversy over their new partnership with Japanese mobile developers DNA, sparking debate and concern that the much loved franchises might in someway be diluted for the smartphone market.
It comes at a time where Wii U sales are still low & with the announcement of the NX and a new ecosystem of products that all connect – it’s hard to think of who is going to lead Nintendo through this transition.
I’ve no doubt that Nintendo have had some preparations in place, and some plans for the future. All eyes will be on Nintendo to see what is next. For us fans, it is now time to mourn the loss of a great leader in Video Gaming.
This world would be a much more lonely place without Nintendo, I hope that for a company over 100 years old that they will be able to maintain the course set for being around for another 100 years.