From pinball to picross, Pokémon has proven to be an adaptive franchise, ensuring the adventures of Pikachu and friends continually remain fresh, and sometimes fun.
The latest 3DS spinoff Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon from Spike Chunsoft - sequel to bronze-award winning Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity - just about manages to be both.
Part roguelike, part RPG, part turn-based battler, Super Mystery Dungeon helps you identify your spirit-Pokémon before transmogrification, sets you off on your merry way to Pokéschool, then trains you up to fight against all manner of bugs and beasties.
But while you're pilfering plunder from multi-tiered dungeons, unlocking a wealth of new Pokémon for your collection, and desperately trying to get your memory back from a convenient bout of amnesia, you'll start to realise that this latest spinoff isn't quite so super.That means it's bad then?
Actually, it's not bad at all. It plays really well, and the game feels exceptionally polished.
The problem with Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon is that you soon notice the monotony of the mechanics, and unfortunately the narrative isn't strong enough to be distracting.
After answering a series of tenuous questions, such as 'should you eat your food while others wait for theirs', a Pokémon is chosen for you.
You can either opt for the game's choice, or pick your own from the available roster. You'll also have to select a partner to share in an adventure with.
For the record, I got Squirtle as my main and Froakie for a companion.
The game then throws you into an overly long and convoluted tutorial which actually does a good job of soaking up any early enthusiasm you may have mustered up for playing.Do I just throw Pokéballs at things to win?
Moving from one procedurally generated dungeon to the next, you take turns fighting other Pokémon, climbing various sets of stairs to reach the exit.
For battling purposes, each Pokémon has four special moves, all with a set amount of PP. Should you and your partner run out of PP, you'll have to rely on basic, weak attacks to fend off your enemies.
The team isn't joined at the hip though. They can split off from one another, fighting enemies on opposite sides of the map.
However this quickly becomes quite jarring as each time you move, the screen will switch back and forth between you and your partner if they're in the middle of fighting. The results are - predictably - annoying.
The hunger mechanic has made a return in Super Mystery Dungeon. As you move through each dungeon, you build up an appetite which can only be filled by certain types of foods, including apples and berries.
If you allow your character to completely starve, they'll begin to lose health. This stamina mechanic can also affect your actions in battle so always needs to be closely monitored.
Unfortunately, when you're not in dungeons or creepy forests, the narrative is moved along by unskippable cut-scenes full of inane dialogue, tedious sound effects, and limited movement animations that barely differentiate between your actions.I thought you said it wasn't bad.
Despite some faults, Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon can be quite enjoyable in pick-up-and-play blasts. There's 22 chapters to get through, and over 700 Pokémon to find across five different zones so there's plenty of content here.
The game also has some entertaining, occasionally epic boss battles, as well as Pelipper Island which is a seperate hub that allows you to complete missions and dungeons with friends.Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon doesn’t do anything badly or wrong, but it quickly become monotonous, failing to capture the spark that makes the main series so infectiously great.