While most people are familiar with Pokémon as a wild animal catching series, their spin-offs tell many different stories. Among them is Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, a series by Spike Chunsoft in which players take direct control of Pokémon to travel through strange and dangerous new lands. It’s not as successful as the main series, but it has gained its own level of notoriety — which is to be expected considering how widespread the Pokémon brand is.
The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games provide unique gameplay and stories that cannot be found anywhere else in the series. It’s interesting to see how much his titles have evolved over the years as well as how they’ve really been successful. The only games not included in this list are Japanese Wiiware titles; although the numbers for them are unknown, it is safe to assume they would be at the bottom anyway.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX
A remake of the original Rescue Team titles, Rescue Team DX is the latest Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game to be released. While it tells the same story, it packs a lot of graphical and mechanical enhancements, introducing features from other titles that even the main Pokémon games neglected to add. This is an overall improvement over the originals, and while it falls to the bottom of the list, the fact that it only premiered two years ago shows that this game can still be even more successful.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity
While it featured new mechanics and a touching story, Gates to Infinity is one of the more controversial Mystery Dungeon titles. Not allowing players to recruit all the Pokémon they encountered, and even not having every Pokémon before the game’s release, Gates to Infinity was a bit more restrictive than previous titles. However, it gave a new lease of life to the Mystery Dungeon series, featuring 3D models and completely original enemies for players to face. This title allowed the series to improve in new ways.
Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon
Perhaps the series’ most ambitious title, Super Mystery Dungeon, includes all Pokémon up to Generation 6. With lots of twists, references to previous Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games, and new mechanics like Mega Evolution and Wands, Super Mystery Dungeon has an amount of content that overshadows many games today. This is the newest game in the series that is not a remake, and makes you wonder what the brand new Pokémon Mystery Dungeon title would look like today.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team and Blue Rescue Team
When Pokémon Mystery Dungeon was in its infancy, it relied on separate versions, just like today’s titles. Red Rescue Team and Blue Rescue Team, released on GBA and DS respectively, kick off the series with a common theme of a human turned into a Pokémon. The formula of exploring randomly generated dungeons and connecting with characters that turned into Pokémon gave rise to the series, and even after the remake, it’s worth looking back to see how it all started.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time, Darkness, and Sky
Time Explorers and Darkness Explorers did not change much in the Rescue Team formula. But it didn’t have to; instead, it built a fantastic foundation and gave it an even better story with more characters and charm than ever. The third version, Explorers of Sky, added even more story content and mechanics; some even consider it one of the best Pokémon games of all time.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon is overshadowed by the main series, but it has a great charm of its own. While his recent successes aren’t as amazing as that of other Pokémon games, he’s still a consistent seller with millions of copies.
With more marketing and budget, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games have the potential to outperform some mainstream titles. One can only hope that someday such potential will be realized and that more people will experience the miracle and excitement of these underrated gems.