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Bench Rambles About the PMD Games


Rescue Team Member
Pokemon Paradise
  1. chikorita-saltriv
  2. bench-gen
  3. charmander
  4. snivy
  5. treecko
  6. tropius
  7. arctozolt
  8. wartortle
  9. zorua
Hello! I am a very big PMD fan, if you somehow didn't already know, and I've recently been writing retrospectives on the various PMD games! I decided to post them here, because I'm rather proud of them!

I hope you enjoy!
Rescue Team DX


Rescue Team Member
Pokemon Paradise
  1. chikorita-saltriv
  2. bench-gen
  3. charmander
  4. snivy
  5. treecko
  6. tropius
  7. arctozolt
  8. wartortle
  9. zorua
Rescue Team DX is a game that means a lot to me. Not only was it the very first PMD game I truly played, it was the first Pokemon game I finished. Before this, I never finished a Pokemon game before.
I got it as a graduation gift from my siblings, and originally didn’t have any plans on playing it, but after talking friend of mine in another community, who was a big fan of PMD, I decided to try it, and liveblog my experience to her.
Best decision I ever made in 2020.
It was the most emotion I felt about a game ever up until then. Closest thing to it was maybe Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks or Mario and Luigi: Dream Team.
Rescue Team DX was the first game that I actually cried at. When me and my partner were chased out of town, with Run Away, Fugitives playing…I legitimately teared up. And when my partner called out my name as I drifted away at the end of the game…I started full-on crying.
Compared to other PMD games, its story may be simplistic. But does that invalidate it as a story? Does that make its story any less worth telling? I don’t think so.
It may not have the grand, time-spanning or world-spanning plot points of Explorers or Super, nor the fantastically-developed characters of Gates. But it has heart.
It has a tale it wants to tell, and that tale is one that resonated with me to my very core. It’s a simple tale of finding your place in an unfamiliar world, but I love it with all my heart.
I think Rescue Team DX made a masterful decision in having the artstyle be similar to a picture book. It’s a simple tale, one a child could enjoy, yet still has enough heart and care put into it to make a grown man cry.
DX embraces this with the artstyle, painting the world as if it was a bedtime story that you want to hear again and again every night. It feels like childlike wonder recaptured.
Does it have its flaws? Sure. The Mankey gang quest, for one. But a few too many treks through one dungeon isn’t enough to sour the experience for me.
Rescue Team DX is something truly special to me, in that I could only ever play it once. I could never find it in my heart to start another save file, to erase the memories me and my partner had together.
Acacia the Chikorita may have just been pixels on a screen, but I cared for him. I cried over him. I wanted to hug him.
Sometimes, I do play a little more. Going on with my current team, and doing a few more rescues. But for the most part, Acacia lives on through my writing and memories.
Rescue Team DX is a story of coming to terms with an unfortunate event, and learning to make the most of what you have now. It’s about learning to find yourself in an unfamiliar world. It’s about growing attached to that once-unfamiliar world, and wanting to stay. It’s a story about self-discovery.
And, in a way…given what I was dealing with at the time I first played it, it was exactly what I needed.
I love, with all my heart, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX.


Rescue Team Member
Pokemon Paradise
  1. chikorita-saltriv
  2. bench-gen
  3. charmander
  4. snivy
  5. treecko
  6. tropius
  7. arctozolt
  8. wartortle
  9. zorua
I started Explorers a bit after Rescue Team DX, before I completed that game. I played through both pretty much concurrently for a good while, though I finished Rescue Team DX first. Shortly after I started Rescue Team DX, I received a genuine Explorers of Sky cartridge as a birthday present, which I’m eternally grateful for.

Explorers was a much different experience than Rescue Team DX. Many of the quality of life features that were introduced in future games, such as no gender restrictions for player and partner species, not having to double accept a request in order to do it, and the removal of IQ, are absent in Explorers.

And of course, there’s the storage item limit, which annoyed me very greatly, but I’ll gloss over that for now.

Nonetheless, Explorers was an amazing experience to play mostly blind. I grew really attatched to the characters very quickly, particularly my partner, Pahelia the Piplup, and Bidoof. I got genuinely mad at Team Skull when they caused my team to have to go without dinner for a day. And I adored how my partner was steadily getting braver.

The twist with the Dark Future came as a shock to me, and further invested me in the game.

And I love Grovyle as a character, one of my favorite characters in Pokemon who’s not from Gates to Infinity.

The story is wonderfully gripping and emotional, and heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time.

And the gameplay, while it has its flaws, I found fun for the most part!

So why then, you might ask, is it my least favorite of the four main PMD games?

To put it simply, it’s a combination of the following facts:
  • One of them has to be my least favorite, even if I love them all to bits.
  • I love the other 3 a bit more.
  • The fandom seems intent to ignore the other three main games in favor of exclusively focusing on Explorers.
  • The item storage limit is excruciating to me.
While I still love and adore Explorers, and it was tied with Gates for being my favorite once upon a time, seeing so many people beat Super, Gates, and occasionally Rescue Team down in favor of giving more and more attention to Explorers…it kinda eroded away at that attatchment I have to Explorers.

And the item storage limit…it’s the reason why I could never finish the postgame.

I don’t want to be too negative here, but I’ll just say that I’m so glad it never made a comeback.

One thing that Explorers does have that the other games don’t, though, is Special Episodes.

I love the Special Episodes. Easily one of the best things exclusive to Explorers.

Special Episode 1 was a lovely little side story about one of my favorite characters in the franchise.

Special Episode 2 made me tear up about a character I thought was just complete comic relief up to that point.

And Special Episode 5 made me cry just as much as the ending of the main story did.

Explorers is a great game. An amazing game, even.

And I love it. I love it so much.

Though I love the other 3 even more, Explorers will always have a very special place in my heart.

Even if I have my gripes with some aspects of the gameplay, and how the fandom treats it, I love PMD Explorers.
Adventure Squad


Rescue Team Member
Pokemon Paradise
  1. chikorita-saltriv
  2. bench-gen
  3. charmander
  4. snivy
  5. treecko
  6. tropius
  7. arctozolt
  8. wartortle
  9. zorua
Adventure Squad, more than Gates to Infinity, is the true black sheep of the PMD series. Wiiware-only, never officially localized, extremely short and simplistic plot, and no human protagonist or partner character.
To be honest…I never actually played this one. I only watched it, and analyzed it.
It’s a strange game. Rumble graphics, yet PMD gameplay. PMD themed, but with little of what makes PMD so great.
It would be completely fair to say it’s the worst PMD game by far, and I would agree.
And yet…
Even it has echoes of what makes PMD amazing.
And it has some pretty neat concepts of its own, too!
For starters, completely changing the town setting based on what version you play? That’s a really cool use of different versions! Arguably the best use of different versions in the series, I’d say!
And the music, while all of the dungeon themes are the exact same melody arranged in different ways, I love the town theme, and especially Slowking’s theme.
Slowking’s theme is one of my favorite pieces of music in all of PMD, to the point where I’m tempted to commission a remix of it just to get people to appreciate it more and for usage in my PMD fic Eternal Shadows.
And it still has that PMD charm. The Gastrodon shopkeeper duo are lovely, and Slowking genuinely has quite a bit of charm, too.
Adventure Squad is a weird, weird PMD game. But even it has parts that shine bright like its bretheren.
At the very least, I recommend listening to the two pieces of music I mentioned. They really are quite lovely.
Gates to Infinity


Rescue Team Member
Pokemon Paradise
  1. chikorita-saltriv
  2. bench-gen
  3. charmander
  4. snivy
  5. treecko
  6. tropius
  7. arctozolt
  8. wartortle
  9. zorua
During my initial PMD playthroughs, I was considering skipping Gates altogether, as I had heard almost nothing but negative things about it up until that point.

However, my friend who I was liveblogging my PMD playthroughs to, she said that Gates to Infinity was good, too.

And so, after completing Rescue Team DX and Explorers, I acquired Gates to Infinity.

Quite possibly the best decision to get a game I’ve ever made.

As while Gates to Infinity is not my favorite game of all time, it’s the game that brought the most to me, that affected me for the better the most.

As while games like Mario and Luigi Dream Team are amazing fun experiences that I treasure dearly…they didn’t change my life like Gates to Infinity did.

It was Gates to Infinity that caused me to stick with PMD. It’s what inspired me to start writing Eternal Shadows. It’s what led me to meet so many amazing people. It’s why I’m still talking about PMD today.

No other game has brought me so much happiness in the long term as Gates to Infinity has.

It’s a bit silly why I started Eternal Shadows in the first place, really.
I was playing through Gates to Infinity’s opening, and it was so different from both Rescue Team DX’s and Explorers’. It had an air to it that neither of those had.

2020 me thought it felt a lot like Kingdom Hearts, and I decided to write a PMD opening with very heavy Kingdom Hearts inspiration as a proof of concept.

That “proof of concept” is what is now known as Eternal Shadows.

Beyond how it personally shaped me, though…Gates to Infinity is a truly wonderful game.

Some may say it’s a downgrade over Explorers. That it took things away from what made Explorers so great.

And…I would agree with that second sentence, in a way.

Gates to Infinity does remove a lot of stuff from Explorers. No personality quiz, severely limited Pokemon roster, no Spinda’s Cafe, no IQ, no long second story in the postgame, and no purple Kecleon or Kangaskhan.

But Gates to Infinity doesn’t need to be Explorers. It’s not Explorers.
And much of what it removes, it adds something new in its place.

While there’s no personality quiz, for the first time, you can choose your protagonist’s species, a feature that would remain in newer games.

IQ is gone, replaced by the much less grindy Team Skills system. No longer do you have to grind for gummis so your partner won’t walk over exposed traps.

There’s no Spinda’s Cafe, but you build something similar through Paradise. You can build your own facilities, talk to your recruits in the town you have built, and it even serves as a hub.

There’s no postgame story to the magnitude of Explorers’, but what is there, is something unlike anything Explorers or Rescue Team gives you. It might not be as long, but a story doesn’t need to be long to be good.

And while the loss of the purple Kecleon, Kangaskhan, and the large Pokemon roster could be considered objective downgrades…they don’t ruin the experience at all, at least for me.

There’s other flaws, too, like the slow text speed, and inability to choose gender, but I digress, and don’t mind them at all.

Gates to Infinity doesn’t carry over the letter of Explorers. It isn’t a sequel to it in the way that Explorers is one to Rescue Team.
But it carries over the spirit of it.

Like Adventure Squad, it still has the heart of PMD.

Yet unlike Adventure Squad, it’s not afraid to show it.

Gates to Infinity still tells a heartfelt story about a former human who winds up in a world of Pokemon.

It has well-developed characters, amazing music that uses motifs wonderfully, and a touching farewell scene.

What does being a PMD game mean, really?

Does it mean pixel graphics, macguffins to collect, and guilds?

Or is it the story of a former human, who partners up with a Pokemon, eventually saving the world, before having to say goodbye?

Of course, some might just say “PMD gameplay”. And there’s nothing wrong with that answer!

The dungeon-delving gameplay is a core part of the experience, too.
And sometimes, it makes the majority of the experience, like with Adventure Squad.

And yes, Gates to Infinity has some problems with the mystery dungeons. Repetitive room generation, party members wandering off, and that small Pokemon roster.

But it also has things Explorers doesn’t.

It introduces the reunion cape item, my favorite item in all of PMD, and very useful for reuniting with lost party members.

It has outside areas to mystery dungeons, a first for the series, and even sometimes has small puzzles with them.

And without the IQ system, your party members have much better navigation and combat skills by default.

But the gameplay isn’t what I love about Gates to Infinity so much.
It’s its story, characters, and the emotions it instilled in me.

I cried not even 15 minutes into Gates to Infinity, when I heard Ragged Mountain for the first time. I recognized it from Oddity Cave from Rescue Team DX, and…yeah.

I initially thought I wasn’t going to be able to name my Snivy partner, but then we get to the future site of Paradise, and he lets me give him a name, in-universe.

Virizion’s character arc is wonderful, and I love how she and Keldeo reconcile.

I love Dunsparce’s bravery, and how Emolga gives up his spot on the Great Glacier expedition so Dunsparce can go.

One of my favorite moments in the entire game, and even just thinking about it right now is making me start to cry.

I love the first-person perspectives with Umbreon seeking shelter in Post Town, and how Espeon just wanted to do the right thing and feels so guilty for putting Swadloon in danger.

And Emolga!

Emolga my absolute beloved.

I love his friendship with Umbreon, I love his reconciliation and developing relationship with Virizion, I love his goofiness! He’s my favorite canon Pokemon character ever!

And not to skip over Hydreigon, either. The Voice of Life is such a cool title and concept, and I love how you think they’ll be the villain, only for them to come and save you, and be an absolute dork.

Even the protagonist! Even they have some character to them, and actually talk!

And then the story. Oh, the story of Gates to Infinity.

For a bit of context, I was…not feeling very well mentally when I started playing the PMD games.

It’s a bit cliche, but, well…I was feeling pretty hopeless.

And Gates to Infinity took that hopelessness and melted it away.

Its theme of how hope can be found even in the darkest of times, how you can find friends even when you feel like you’re all alone…it meant a lot to me. It still means a lot to me.

And the ending…I have never cried harder at a story in my life.

Everyone’s final messages to you through the frism, how they remembered you, how even if you may never meet again, how they wanted you to have a good life…it broke me, in a good way.

My second favorite moment in all of PMD, and part of what led me to writing A Way to Reunite.

Gates to Infinity may not be Explorers. It may lack stuff, even important stuff that Explorers has.

But Gates to Infinity has heart. So, so much heart.

It’s not soulless, it’s the farthest thing from soulless.

Gates to Infinity is a true PMD game, and I’ll always love it with all my heart.


Rescue Team Member
Pokemon Paradise
  1. chikorita-saltriv
  2. bench-gen
  3. charmander
  4. snivy
  5. treecko
  6. tropius
  7. arctozolt
  8. wartortle
  9. zorua
To me, Super Mystery Dungeon is a bit of an oddball. Rescue Team, Explorers, Gates, and even Adventure Squad all do their own unique things, while Super is the only one out of them that feels like it’s trying to emulate a previous entry, specifically Explorers.
That’s a common criticsm I’ve seen with Super, that it’s just “Explorers but worse”.
But Super is far, far more than just “Explorers 2”.
It’s a celebration of all of PMD, giving love to not just Explorers, but Rescue Team, Gates, and even Adventure Squad.
It would not be unfair to say that Super is a grand finale to PMD games we have so far.
It has an entire world map of every past PMD region, including 4 new ones, and it has cameos from all other PMD games. It takes the improvements that Explorers did upon Rescue Team, and the improvements that Gates did upon Explorers, and improves them even further.
Super Mystery Dungeon is…honestly a bit hard for me to talk about, because there’s so much to it. Some good, some bad, but I’ll do my best to cover an acceptable amount here.
To start, the scarves of prior games are gone, replaced with a new system: looplets and emeras.
While some might say it’s a downgrade, I’d go so far as to say it’s a step up from all other PMD games, even Rescue Team DX.
Your scarves aren’t truly gone, instead, they’re key items that you wear just as in Rescue Team DX, and they even have story relevance!
And looplets and emeras themselves are really cool!
They’re basically the next iteration of IQ/Team Skills. You have a wearable item with a certain amount of slots in it, known as a looplet. As you explore mystery dungeons, you can encounter emeras, crystals with special effects, that you can slot into the looplet.
The looplets themselves can have special effects, too. My favorite one to have on my protagonist was the Weather Looplet.
Super Mystery Dungeon also introduces wands, a fantastic addition that I was sorely missing from the past two games since I played Rescue Team DX first. I’m so glad they seem to be a mainstay item type now.
They’re basically seeds, but stackable like gravelerocks. You wave a wand, and it applies an effect to an enemy, you, allies, or a combination of those.
These two features, along with enemy Pokemon being quite a bit tougher in this game, make Super a lot more item-based than previous PMD games.
And if you’ve been around me long enough, you know I love PMD items.
Heck, I’ve even written an entire story just about them!
There’s also the connection orb, which I love a lot, too!
Instead of recruitment being RNG based, it’s instead tied in with the missions system. Complete a mission, recruit the Pokemon who sent that request and maybe a few others!
While others like recruiting mon you find randomly in dungeons, I prefer this system. Less luck-based, and the missions can be really neat!
People criticize the Salamence mission, but I find it a great way to teach you the usefulness of items, and potential power of recruits.
However…there are caveats.
The mechanic that causes recruits to not be available sometimes is good in theory, but in practice, it can be quite frustrating, especially if you don’t know how long each mon’s wait cycles are.
Nonetheless, I spent probably far more time than necessary just scrolling around the connection orb, wondering when I’d connect with a Pokemon I saw.
Like most other PMD games, though, Super is more than just its gameplay.
It also has a story, characters, music, and heartfelt moments.
So how do those stack up?
Well, to start the music is as good as always. I absolutely adore tracks like Revelation Mountain, Entrusted Hope, Tree of Life Roots, and anything with the partner leitmotif.
As for the other three…
I love them too.
Super’s story may have its holes. Its characters may not be as well-developed as Gates’.
But I love them nonetheless.
Especially the partner.
Super’s partner is my favorite partner in the series.
They have so much personality, charm, love, joy, heart. And for the first time in the series, they even have their own theme.
Super Mystery Dungeon isn’t a game about you. It’s a story about your partner.
While in past PMD games, the partner helps you along your journey…here, it’s you helping the partner.
It’s a story about you helping a child with finding their place in the world, facing insurmountable odds, and finding it in themselves to accept negativity is a necessary part of life.
And when you say goodbye to them, instead of them saying goodbye to you…
I was bawling.
I didn’t want them to go.
I think I cried there as much as I did at Gates’ ending.
And I LOVE LOVE LOVE the final Dark Matter battle.
It’s so amazing from both a story and gameplay perspective.
With the first battle, you’re strong, fully evolved, and even then, it still felt difficult.
I struggled with this battle a lot, but the way I finally did it was trusting my partner to avoid Dark Matter’s spikes, throwing iron thorns at Dark Matter, healing when we needed it, and trusting my partner to come in clutch where I couldn’t.
Their Razor Leaf was the final blow to Dark Matter in my playthrough.
Also, can I say that I love the environmental effects in the final Dark Matter battle with the spikes?
That’s one of my favorite mechanics in Rescue Team DX’s later boss battles! With the magma spreading during Groudon’s battle, and the wind sweeping you away in Rayquaza’s!
It makes the battles a lot more dynamic, interesting, and fun!
I love the harmony scarves. I love the Tree of Life in nearly every single way.
And the Voidlands!
The Voidlands are so terrifying, and I was literally shaking with the final Void Shadow battle.
And I love how your partner is so scared, and yet so brave!
Brave because you’re with them, because you’ve helped them this far.
And Reverse Mountain. Oh, Reverse Mountain.
Aside from its amazing music and all the jokes about “Sawk used Rock Smash!"…the moment atop it, where the Legendary Beasts and Mawile sacrifice themselves to buy time for you and your partner to escape…
That’s my favorite moment in all of PMD.
I initially came into this retrospective with a lot of negative thoughts about Super, but I just…I can’t do that to it. It means too much to me.
It does definitely have its flaws.
Many of the twists, like Nuzleaf’s betrayal, aren’t foreshadowed nearly well enough.
And the Expedition Society, much as I love them, really could use more characterization.
Plus, the two halves of the story, while sharing some connections and foreshadowing, are pretty disconnected otherwise.
But I love Super.
Just like Gates, it’s a PMD game, too.
It has all the charm, love, heartfelt moments, fun story, amazing music, everything.
When I think of my partner, Leviene, and how much I care about them…I can’t say that I dislike this game even one bit.
It’s tied with Rescue Team DX as my second favorite PMD game.
While I love Gates more, Super still means the world to me.
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon


Rescue Team Member
Pokemon Paradise
  1. chikorita-saltriv
  2. bench-gen
  3. charmander
  4. snivy
  5. treecko
  6. tropius
  7. arctozolt
  8. wartortle
  9. zorua
So, here we are. It's been over three years since the last PMD game, and almost 8 since the last one that wasn't a remake.
Where does this leave us?
Will we ever get another new PMD game?
I don't know.
Personally? I have hope that the series isn't dead. That one day, we will get another.
But I can't say for certain.
But even if this is the end...what a legacy PMD has left us with.
Five lovely games, each with their own story to tell, their own joys to be had.
Sure, some may be better than others, but they all carry the spirit of PMD within them.
Rescue Team is a story about finding yourself in a foreign world, of finding home in the unlikeliest of places, of how even when the rest of the world is against you, you'll always have some people who believe in you.
Explorers is a story about overcoming impossible odds, of staying true to oneself, of shining bright at world's end, of how if your legacy is still remembered, in a way, you'll still be alive.
Adventure Squad is a story of finding joy in the little things, of how even simple acts of kindness can turn around the hearts of a whole village.
Gates to Infinity is a story about holding onto hope even in the most desperate circumstances, of friendships that never truly die, of kindness begetting more kindness, of changing the world for the better, one step at a time.
Super is a story of learning who you truly are, what makes you yourself, of how negativity is a necessary part of life, of globe-spanning friendships, of entrusted hope, of how you can do amazing things, of how it's ok to need help.
Each one has its own, unique take on PMD. Each one has its own themes, its own joys it wants to share. Each one complements the rest, and all together?
They make something truly wonderful.
While it's possible that PMD might never return, that attatchement we have to it? That love we have for our partners? That joy we have when we remember our favorite moments from it?
That will never truly fade.
It might be buried, might be forgotten, but it will never truly die. It will always be there, waiting to return.
In a way, PMD will never end.
Like Special Episode 5 of Explorers teaches us, if our legacy is remembered, then we're still alive, in a way. Our spirit still shines bright, still affecting others.
As long as we continue to cherish PMD, it will never die.
I'm crying so hard as I type this all.
I love PMD. I love it with all my heart.
I think a good way to show why PMD will never truly die is to take a look at the fanworks made for it.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of fanworks created about PMD.
Comics, fanfics, askblogs, and more, all telling their own stories about PMD.
All created because of love for PMD.
Silver Resistance. Victory Fire. Hands of Creation. Warped Skies. Quenched Torch. Legends Legacy. Shatter. Daily Life in Pokemon Paradise. Flake-N-Rudy. Askanotslownotking. Free Fiction. The Dreamstone. Places We Call Home. Galaxies Above. On Borrowed Time. Fledglings. Liberators of Fate. Sierra 10. Flowerbeds. Irau's Journal. Psychic Sheep. Zero the Hero. Path of Valor.
Even those of us who aren't telling full stories, those of us who make fanart, those of us who make fanmusic and remixes, those of us who just gush about PMD.
We're all keeping PMD alive.
To everyone who has ever made any sort of PMD fanwork, discussed their love for the series, or even just recommended it to a friend. To anyone who has ever helped keep PMD alive.
Thank you.
Even if we never get a new PMD game, it will never truly die, as long as we continue to cherish it.
Thank you all so much.
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