Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky (EoS) is to Explorers of Time (EoT) and Explorers of Darkness (EoD) what Pokémon Yellow was to Red and Blue - that is, a remake which bears a striking resemblance but includes a few new features. In theory the game should appeal both to those who enjoyed the original games and those who missed them entirely. We’ll give you our verdict on that soon enough, though.
In terms of plot, EoS scarcely deviates from EoD and EoT in so much as you play as a Pokémon who is suffering from amnesia, but knows that he/she was once a human and is searching for answers. A short personality test determines which critter you will become, but you are free to choose a companion from a revamped list that now includes Shinx, Eevee, and Vuplix among others. Early on in the game you'll join the Wigglytuff Guild, form an exploration team, and start taking on missions to earn money, items, and experience points by exploring randomly generate dungeons in true roguelike fashion.
Up to three team members can accompany you and can be issued commands to follow, attack nearby opponents, use certain moves more often, etc.. Unfortunately, they’ll often stand around aimlessly during battles, or even get lost and eventually mauled by roaming predators if you speed through areas too quickly. More frustrating is when a lost companion encounters an opponent when you’re nowhere nearby but still have your movement restricted until the battle concludes. Changing behaviour orders helps alleviate the problem to some extent, but it's not a flawless solution.
Unlike most roguelikes, EoS does not feature loss of experience on death (you only lose money and certain items) and there are no unidentified items, with detailed descriptions provided for everything found in dungeons. While these features are arguably archaic and repellent for many players, they are crucial to providing a sense of tension and excitement in roguelikes. Without them EoS often boils down to a simple grind-a-thon with little of the sense of wonder or accomplishment that makes titles such as Shiren the Wanderer such a satisfying experience.
Like its predecessors, EoS includes online functionality in the form of rescues, which allow players who have died in a dungeon to send out an SOS to friends or strangers to come and save them. Additional Wi-Fi features include the option to send items to other players, and even teams of Pokémon for other players to train against in the Dojo (a risk-free dungeon). Completely new to EoS is a selection of enjoyable new cut scenes, as well as a number of unlockable special episodes that delve into plot points and character back-stories not explored before.
Solid mechanics are hindered by watered down difficulty that dilutes any sense of accomplishment.
The random dungeons tend to look repetitive, but sprite work is top notch and environments are lovely.
Chilled background music and a few catchy tunes make for a perfectly pleasant audio experience.
Surprisingly lengthy despite a fairly low difficulty level, plus a healthy dose of online functionality.
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While Explorers of Sky boasts a few new features - new playable characters, cut scenes, and unlockable story episodes, etc. - these are fairly trivial in the grand scheme of things. If you played EoT or EoD (review here) thoroughly and enjoyed them then there’s not a great deal of incentive to play this as well. Likewise, if you didn’t enjoy the original games, there’s nothing here that’s going to change your mind. Ultimately, most players are probably still better off sticking to 'purer' roguelikes such as Shiren the Wanderer or standard RPGs such the core Pokémon titles.
I quite enjoyed the first Pokémon Mystery Dungeon on the GBA/DS, but lost interest pretty quickly after that as the formula just didn't seem to change. The last game of this ilk I really enjoyed was the Chocobo one on Wii. Shame the enhance DS edition never made it to the West, though
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I always got really excited when starting those games (has 2, mhm!) and managed to clear the story line on the first game without any problems. After that, my interest dropped.
As I went on with EoT I suddenly fell out of it about halfway through the story, still haven't completed it.
After a while I feel that those games are like constant repeat in missions and such. Which makes it boring after a while. Though as long as the interest's up, they're cute and fun! :3
nashmyhero (guest) 21.02.2010 03:55#3
the graphics aren't as good as i thought they would be.
Jordan (guest) 09.07.2010 02:40#4
all my pokemon have taken the image of a bulbasaur on the game