I’ve always been a fan of Pokémon games, from the amazingly brilliant main series, to the hit and miss spin-offs. Even as more and more Pokemon were added leading some of the older generation to lose appreciation of the games, I was one of the remaining gamers to stick with them. It was only natural progression for the series and at the time, who didn’t want to see even more Pokemon?
In Gates to Infinity we see a mixture of generations including the franchise’s mascot Pikachu. They have narrowed down the list of Pokemon you can “recruit” from the series, but most of your favourites should be there. As with the other entries in the series, you are a human who has been mystically transformed into a Pokemon for a good cause – in this case, saving the Pokemon world. You get to choose one of five possible Pokemon to be transformed into, Pikachu, Tepig, Snivy, Oshawott or Axew along with a partner from the remaining four to join you on your adventure.
The game starts with a lot of dialogue and very little gameplay. I understand setting up the story takes some time, but I would have liked it to be a little more interactive. The game does pick up a lot when you get to your first dungeon though and you really get a true sense of the time the developers must have put into the visuals of this game. Bright and bold and the 3D effect isn’t off putting like in so many other games, I prefer playing with it on where I can.
After trawling through the start and finding out your partner needs help setting up a Pokémon paradise, you agree to join him in the hope of finding out more about why you were transformed into a Pokémon.
The gameplay feels a little restricted, especially at first when you can’t even select your partner’s tactics. Once you do unlock all of the tactical options the game feels more like the Mystery Dungeon we all know and love allowing you to select the requests you want to do, rather the wade through a tonne of dialogue and story. The tale here is clearly aimed at the younger audience, with little to nothing someone over the age of ten can enjoy. I know it’s hardly surprising, but I would have expected more depth from such a big franchise.
If you take the dialogue and story out of the equation and focus solely on the gameplay, you do find a pretty decent dungeon crawler. The turn based, yet real- time style really helps this series shine. You can grind levels, collect rare items, recruit rare Pokémon and generally explore, all without having to select a quest. This gives it the replayability it really needs and helps to lift this out of being just another spin-off.
If you do select a quest (also known as requests) you can earn some rewards that helps progress your teams overall standing. Improve your standing, get some materials and enough money, and you can develop your paradise however you seem fit. You can build dojos for training, fields for seeds and many other attractions. These help you with your training or quests and open up plenty of ways to improve your chances with the harder dungeons.
However what’s the point of improving your paradise if you are there alone? The chance to recruit Pokémon is a huge part of this game even if you can only take a maximum of four into a dungeon at once. Once you defeat a Pokémon in a dungeon, there is a chance it’ll ask to join your team; if you accept you can give them a nickname and they’ll join.
One of the new features that have been included is the addition of Magnagates. These are portals to special dungeons found in special objects from the real world. Each dungeon is different depending on the size and colour of your chosen object; this is separate from your main story, so you can sometimes play as a Pokémon which is not your main leader. Mangagate dungeons are pretty cool as you can sometimes find Pokémon you normally wouldn’t be able to find in the main story and can offer slightly more of a challenge for anyone looking for one.
After playing a lot of this game, I realised it’s a step up in graphics from the previous games, but a step down in story and gameplay. The original Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games had a lot of customization, some really difficult dungeons and an in depth RPG feel. The game felt like it catered for not only children looking for a good story and something fun to play, but to the older generation who grew up with Pokemon and needed more of a challenge. Gates to Infinity feels like it is aimed solely at children, and although it can still fun, it feels like a shadow of its former self.
With Pokemon X and Y on the horizon and anticipation building for that, this game could have been a real boost towards the excitement and something to keep all of us fans ticking over, but I was a bit disappointed with the lack of depth and focus on the younger market. Overall it feels like it’s a grab for money and a downgrade from the older games and though a few new things have been introduced, there are far better games on 3DS to tide you over till X and Y.