A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Kids can learn about empathy, teamwork, friendship, and strategy in this simple dungeon crawler starring Nintendo's iconic pocket monsters. Each dungeon has its own little story, often accompanied by simple moral and social messages. Playing alone, kids will work out strategies for dealing with different enemies, and when working with other players, they'll cooperate to more expediently clear dungeons.
Most of the game is simply about fighting monsters. However, the Pokemon usually learn a simple lesson after each dungeon, such as not to give up or to be forgiving.
Positive Role Models
The Pokemon here may fight a lot, but they're generally good little guys. Even some enemies end up changing their naughty ways once confronted by the game's kind and forgiving heroes. Kids could take away a lesson about being tolerant and sympathetic.
Ease of Play
Movement, selecting attacks, and navigating menus are all pretty straightforward. Kids as young as 7 can make their way through most dungeons with relative ease, assuming they read -- and heed -- the in-game instructions.
Violence & Scariness
Pokemon battle each other using attacks with names like "scratch," "water gun," and "sting." Players will see the tiny cartoonish creatures jump, spin around, and swipe, accompanied by simple effects such as splashes of water or flashes of light. Damage is represented by a loss of hit points. Losers don't die and aren't seriously injured, but instead simply faint.
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Products & Purchases
This game is part of Nintendo's popular and ubiquitous Pokemon franchise, which includes games, shows, movies, toys, and collectibles.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity is unlike traditional Pokemon games in that players actually play as Pokemon rather than collect them. That means it's the player's character doing the fighting, not a pet commanded by the player. What's more, these Pokemon talk and have vibrant personalities. Some are mean and do bad things, but most are good and honorable and looking for ways to help their fellow pocket monsters -- even those who are misbehaving.
Is It Any Good?
Nintendo has done a good job of subtly exploiting of some of the 3DS' more interesting features here, including scanning objects to create to new dungeons and using Street Pass to anonymously swap "reviver" seeds with other players that can come in handy in a pinch. And the Pokemon themselves are as cute as ever, thanks not only to their adorable designs but also their generous and noble little personalities.
Sadly, the action grows monotonous pretty quickly. The randomly generated dungeons are visually bland and chore-like to explore, and combat lacks strategy and spectacle. It's just the same corridors in different configurations, the same battles with only minor differences in attack types. Pokemon addicts may stick with it until the end, but casual fans will likely lose interest before too long.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.