5 Nintendo DS RPGs That Stand the Test of Time

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time and Darkness and Explorers of Sky

A children's game and a Pokemon spin-off might seem an odd choice for this list. Nevertheless, years after its initial Western release in 2008, Explorers of Time still stands as not only one of my favorite DS RPGs, but one of my favorite DS games period.

The gameplay is pretty standard for a dungeon-crawler, with the player controlling a team of Pokemon as they traverse dangerous dungeons catching Pokemon criminals and helping innocents in need. Battling also follows standard rules of turn-based combat, with each team member selecting an attack to perform on an enemy (the attacks replicating those found in mainline Pokemon games), choosing to defend, or use an item.

What really sets Explorers of Time and Darkness, and its expanded-story companion Explorers of Sky, above the rest though, is its excellent plot and endearing cast of characters.

The games follow a Pokemon (one of 16 species, decided upon by a personality test at the beginning of the game) who has lost all of its memories, remembering only that it used to be a human. The main character and their partner (one of 13 Pokemon species, chosen by the player at the beginning) join the Wigglytuff Guild, a group dedicated to exploring dungeons and protecting vulnerable Pokemon and lead by a quirky Wigglytuff and his overworked assistant Chatot. The characters soon find themselves chasing down a rogue thief Grovyle, who is stealing the world's Time Gears. Yet, Grovyle and his goals aren't all what they seem to be, and the plot proves darker and more complex the more the story goes along.

Mystery Dungeon may have unfortunately repetitive gameplay, but its gripping plot and lovable characters are sure to keep players gripped to their dual screens. And if you haven't shed a tear or two by the end of the game, then you're probably heartless. I highly recommend this game for any and all Pokemon fans, as well as anyone looking for an RPG with a heartwarming, emotional story. (And it's a fun spinoff game to play while you wait for Sun and Moon.)

Published Jun. 27th 2016

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