Hurrah, it%26rsquo;s time to become a Pokemon again! After answering questions on such varied subjects as how we feel about school and what we%26rsquo;d do if a TV crew asked to interview us, we were transformed into a Mudkip and sent off into the land where Pokemon live free from human interference. We%26rsquo;re sure we%26rsquo;ve been here before%26hellip;
Explorers of Sky is this year%26rsquo;s companion piece to the Explorers of Time/Darkness double bill we were treated to in 2008. Those titles weren%26rsquo;t exactly the cream of the Poke-crop, but Sky promises new features, new chapters and a deeper look at this parallel universe populated by sentient Pokemon.
Of course it%26rsquo;s built on the same old Mystery Dungeon formula %26ndash; one that might have seemed fresh and unusual when it first appeared in the early 1990s, but which is getting creakier with every new installment. There must have been at least 20 of these things over the years, featuring various themes and exactly the same dungeon-traipsing core gameplay.
You get dropped into a randomly generated dungeon, built over several floors and populated by monsters. Each time you take a step, the monsters take a step until they collide with you and a turn-based fight takes place. There are a limited number of moves you can assign to each button, and the events of the battle are relayed in super boring text-o-vision. You gain experience, you move on and eventually you find the treasure and escape.
Above ground, there%26rsquo;s a story about Pokemon turning evil and stealing things from each other. There are entire villages where Pokemon families live in shacks and run businesses and send you off on quests that always involve fighting your way through the basement of yet another random dungeon.
It looks very much like the kind of thing you could create with some sort of game-maker program. Feed it some graphics, write a bit of text and press the %26lsquo;generate game%26rsquo; button. As if by magic, a Mystery Dungeon appeared!
It%26rsquo;s amazing that Nintendo allow their biggest property to be used in this manner. Of course it sells well and it%26rsquo;s perfectly playable, in a completely mindless way, but it%26rsquo;s a phenomenally weedy game. The proper Pokemon titles are in a completely different league.
Oct 22, 2009