Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Physical Accessibility
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX is accessible beyond words. As a franchise, Pokémon continues to amaze me with its overall accessibility, proving that Nintendo can execute smart accessibility decisions.
Score10 out of 10
Nintendo is no stranger to remaking classics. With each new system, antiquated games within popular franchises are brought to life with fresh coats of paint and new features. Pokémon Mystery Dungeon is the latest to receive the extreme makeover treatment. Aside from being aesthetically pleasing, as well as highly addictive, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX introduces a plethora of accessibility options, proving that Nintendo has the capability to create entertaining and inclusive titles.
Originally released in 2005, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team and Red Rescue Team follow the adventures of two young partner Pokémon as they set out to create a successful Rescue Team. Rescue Team DX retains the original story, where individuals can utilize up to three Pokémon to explore procedurally generated zones known as Mystery Dungeons. Players must search each floor for the stairway to advance, while simultaneously collecting items and defeating/befriending Pokémon along the way. The simplistic nature of the gameplay can admittedly become repetitive and tiresome, but the thrill of creating new teams of Pokémon kept me entertained for hours. Plus, the extensive accessibility options made each play session feel less like a chore, and more like an enjoyable Rescue Team excursion.
One of the more important aspects to complete each dungeon revolves around your character’s movements. Rescue Team DX offers several control methods which cater toward a variety of physically disabled players. For starters, individuals can utilize the left joystick for omnidirectional inputs. If precise movements are preferred, the directional pad is an excellent substitute. However, diagonal movements require the use of the ‘R’ button. The most exciting option occurs in the form of ‘Auto’ mode. By pressing the ‘L’ button, your Rescue Team automatically paths itself toward the staircase on each level, only deactivating when engaging in combat. With Mystery Dungeons containing more than 15 floors, the ‘Auto’ button provided necessary moments of respite.
To coincide with movement, combat in Rescue Team DX contains multiple options which suit differing playstyles. During fight sequences, the gameplay transitions to turn-based, reminiscent of traditional Pokémon titles. Moves are executed by pressing the ‘A’ button, while AI -controlled characters reposition themselves, or perform their own actions. The overall ease of combat is an accessibility benefit in and of itself, however, Rescue Team DX offers so much more.
Pokémon can learn up to four offense or defense moves, each with their own varying strengths and weaknesses. While Rescue Team DX requires players to hold ‘ZL’ to change the current attack, disabled players can avoid this mandatory button press through game mechanics. Moves can be rearranged within the menus, meaning that players can attempt to prioritize ‘A’ with a specific attack. Furthermore, moves are predetermined based on a set of prerequisites. For example, if my partner Pokémon Squirtle is several titles away from an enemy, he will automatically engage with Ice Beam, a move with considerable range. When Pokémon confront you up close, the game will cycle through your moveset based on your power, as well as the enemy’s. Squirtle may switch to Withdraw, or my Cyndaquil, whose bound ‘A’ move is Ember, may attack with Flame Wheel, or Overheat, considerably stronger moves which will quickly eliminate my foe. For those who wish for more of a guarantee, players can link two moves to the same button. Every time Cyndaquil uses Ember, it is automatically followed up by Double Kick, albeit at the cost of your character’s hunger.
The accessibility features do not stop at combat or movement. Health items are automatically applied when characters drop below a certain percentage, menus are easily accessed through ‘X’ and switching characters can be achieved through the Options menu, rather than pressing the ‘+’ shortcut button. Every action can be completed with one finger, requiring little physical effort.
Rescue Team DX is physical accessibility in its purest form. There are no mandatory requirements to complete actions, and each accessibility feature is purely optional, thus preventing each feature from detracting from the overall gaming experience. While the overall gameplay can become boring and egregiously repetitive, Rescue Team DX is a perfect example of Nintendo listening to its disabled player base. As a Pokémon fan, I would conduct research before purchasing this title. As a disabled individual, this game is a must have for any Switch owner.