There are several successful spinoffs out there such as the Pokémon Ranger series or Super Pokémon Rumble, but possibly the most unusual of them all is the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series. Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky is the last DS-only Mystery Dungeon spinoff of the series. It mixes the highly collectable nature of Pokémon with the challenge of entering a series of randomised dungeons to battle other Pokémon, and many fans swear by it.
Explorers of Sky pretty much typifies the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon experience. Barely different from its predecessor, you embark upon yet another adventure to stop more devious Pokémon from behaving badly, and you’re going to do this by crawling through a series of dungeons, each unique and entirely different from each other, with no two environments being the same. The whole thing is sort of a turn-based strategy affair but on a grander scale, with every active Pokémon on screen moving at once like some sort of extreme underground chess club. Oh, and even though we’re playing this on the DS, it all looks and plays like a GameBoy Advance game, just so you’re aware of the level of innovation you’re dealing with here.
Though I am not a fan of the mystery dungeon genre, or by extension the Pokémon-stamped version of this genre, there are some that simply can’t get enough of it. You can almost see why this is, since the whole thing is pretty challenging, and you do get to go up against a whole load of Pokémon from a variety of the generations of the main games, and there are two new starters in this one: Riolu and Phanphy. There are also 8 freshly squeezed/brand new dungeons in this game (69 in total). The whole type-effectiveness idea of Pokémon also applies here, but because you enter dungeons that are dedicated to one particular type, you are often left with an ‘all or nothing’ situation where you are either going to dominate absolutely or fail miserably, depending on whether your Pokémon team is of the type that is strong against the type you will be mainly facing in the dungeons.
Apart from a few ‘Special Episodes’ (a side-show where some back-stories from some of the game’s Pokémon are explored), there isn’t any truly new content. The storyline is essentially the same, the dungeons all feel as bland and featureless as each other, and even things like the dialogue are nonsensical and repetitive. That said, Pokémon fans continue to snap up the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series like they are made from 24-carat gold forged by Ash Ketchum himself, so they must be doing something right. This pokemon game is recommended for fans of this spin-off series that know what they’re getting themselves in for; anyone expecting anything near the main-series calibre of entertainment will be bitterly disappointed.