To say that the first few hours of Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon on the Nintendo 3DS are an unmitigated disaster would be an understatement. A gross, incompetent understatement. From the haphazard story that feels like it was written for pre-schoolers, to the uneven difficulty and shoddy controls and the weird opening scene that can and will frustrate some gamers enough to stop and cease the continuation of their adventure entirely, there’s nothing “super” about the newest installment of the Mystery Dungeon series- so far.
The opening scene has you “tapping” the screen repeatedly in order to aid your transformation into the Pokemon world, but if you simply tap the screen you can and will be doing it for minutes-enough to get you extremely frustrated. A simple rub of the screen instead will start the teleportation process, but that’s something the game never tells you to do. This sadly is only a precursor of what’s to come. The story has you, a human, trapped inside the body of a Pokemon and from there, the adventure begins. It’s cute that you get asked a series of questions and from that your Pokemon personality (and that of your partner Pokemon) of sorts is derived, but the battle system and story are so slow moving and repetitive that you’ll get bored quick.
Sure, other Pokemon games, take Rumble World, for instance, have a weak story as well, but the simple and fun gameplay mechanics more than make for it. This turn-based battle system in Super Mystery Dungeon is far from the fast-paced and electric you’d ever expect if this is the first time you’ve played the series. If you’ve been to this end of the Pokemon Universe before, however, you’ll feel as if things move entirely too slow at the start. At the same time, with all 720 Pokemon in the game and the randomly-generated dungeons, it’s definitely quite possible that Super Mystery Dungeon begins to take better shape with more playtime.
It’s hard to make that assumption with so many issues here though. Let’s forget about the fact that different Pokemon species are somehow members of the same family. Let’s forget about how “Sesame Street” it all feels. Fighting is not fun, at all. The learning curve is a steep one as well, entrenched in strategy and item use, rather than the fun of a Pokemon brawl. With costly “devices” used to save your progress in dungeons as well, you’ll find yourself restarting your gameplay quite often.
Simply put, through the first few missions, Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon lacks the punch needed to enthrall hardcore Pokemon fans and is so plodding and arcane that even small children will find it a bore. With a few more Pokemon added to our team and some enhanced abilities acquired through more gameplay, this can change, but at least through the first two hours or so of gameplay, Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon is weak.