Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky is the latest in the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series. However, it is more like an expansion to Explorers of Darkness and Time than it is a new entry in the series. It adds a few extras to the mix, but not enough to justify a second purchase if you’ve already played through Explorers of Darkness or Time.
Explorers of Sky is played the same way as the previous games in the series. You’ll take on jobs from Wigglytuff’s Guild, and then while exploring ‘mystery dungeons’ you will attempt to complete the missions. A mystery dungeon is a dungeon that is randomly generated each time you enter one. This lends itself to the possibility of easier travel than a man-made dungeon because you’ll often descend a floor and find you don’t need to search for the stairs to the next floor- they’re in the same room as you. However, it does add replayability since the dungeons will be different every time you go into them. In the end, this is a good thing because you will be repeatedly descending into every single dungeon in the game numerous times.
You will control one Pokémon. This Pokémon is chosen for you from a group of 19 based on how you answer a short personality test when you begin the game. After a Pokémon has been selected, you’ll get to pick a partner from the remaining starting Pokémon. You and your partner will be inseparable through the rest of the game, and if either of you get knocked out in a dungeon you’ll be penalized half of your items and money. Eventually you’ll also be able to recruit various other Pokémon you defeat in the dungeons. You can have up to two recruits join you and your partner in the dungeons. Unfortunately, the dungeon designs and the AI of the Pokémon tend to work against having a team of any size larger than two; in the majority of fights you’ll only need two Pokémon, and in the ones that you do need more teammates, the extras will invariably get stuck in a corridor and be useless in the fight anyway.
You can choose to simply follow the storyline of the game or take on jobs, collect items, and grind your Pokémon to higher and higher levels before continuing the story. No matter how urgent the next story mission seems, you can always put it off to explore a random dungeon or rescue a lost Pokémon.
The biggest addition to Explorers of Sky is the inclusion of a series of five special episodes that you can play through in addition to the main story. Each special episode places you in the shoes of another member of Wigglytuff’s Guild and allows you to participate in an important period of their lives. This gives you more insight into the personality of each guild member as well as showing more of the history of the Guild featured in the main story.
A couple new Pokémon are added to Explorers of Sky, increasing its Pokémon count to 492. Some new optional dungeons have been added as well, giving you more of a challenge at higher levels. The last addition to Explorers of Sky is Spinda’s Café, an underground area in Treasure Town that you can go to and receive new jobs, take part in some prize drawings for new items, and also increase the potency of the many gummies (items that increase the intelligence of your teammates) you’ll collect throughout your adventures.
While there are quite a few additions to Explorers of Sky, unless you are a hardcore fan of Pokémon or mystery dungeon games, it just isn’t enough to justify another purchase before the price drops. If you never played Explorers of Darkness or Time, but were thinking of getting one of them, it may be worth getting Explorers of Sky instead for the extra content. Explorers of Sky feels like a premium version of Explorers of Darkness and Time. It’s just a shame that over a year after the release of Explorers of Darkness and Time we get a retread of the same story with a few bonuses added instead of a completely new game.
ESRB: E for Everyone- If you can play Pokémon, you can play this.
Plays Like: Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Dungeon; Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness; Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time
Pros: Special episodes are enjoyable glimpses into the main NPCs; Music is better than standard Pokémon games
Cons: Same story as previous Mystery Dungeon games; Pokémon are very similar in use and stats; hard for a team of more than two to actually be used