Artwork for the most recent game in the series, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity
|Platforms||Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Wii, Nintendo 3DS|
|Platform of origin||Super Nintendo Entertainment System|
|Year of inception||1993|
|First release||Torneko no Daibōken: Fushigi no Dungeon
September 19, 1993
|Latest release||Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity
November 23, 2012
|Spin-offs||Pokémon Mystery Dungeon|
Mystery Dungeon (不思議のダンジョン Fushigi no Dungeon?) is a series of roguelike video games, most of which were developed by Chunsoft (later Spike Chunsoft), but with select titles in the series developed by other companies with Chunsoft's permission. The series began when co–creator of Dragon Quest, Koichi Nakamura, was inspired by a fellow developer's experience with the video game Rogue and a desire to create an original series. The franchise has had games across different platforms, starting on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and later on the Game Boy, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Wii, and the Nintendo 3DS.
Original characters include Shiren the Wanderer and his companions. The series has inspired similar titles in Japan, most of which appropriate their games' mechanics from Mystery Dungeon rather than Rogue itself. The series has had moderate popularity, and has found most of its success with the Torneko Mystery Dungeon and Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series, and to a lesser extent the Chocobo games.
Koichi Nakamura, founder of Chunsoft and co-creator of the Dragon Quest series, conceived the series as Chunsoft's first original work. After the release of the Super Nintendo, they ceased working on the Dragon Quest series and began working on the Mystery Dungeon series. The series was based on the game Rogue. For a week Nakamura played Rogue at the recommendation of a staff member, trying to understand the game's appeal, and concluded the high degree of challenge made the game very rewarding.
Creation and design
Nakamura explained that the appeal of the Mystery Dungeon series is that every game is different, players skills are constantly being challenged, and helps the player feel deeply involved. Seiichiro Nagahata, who supervised and planned the development of Shiren DS, explained that the Mystery series is all about "tension" and "reasoning.
Although all games in the series bear the Fushigi no Dungeon moniker somewhere in their Japanese titles, only the Shiren the Wanderer games contain original characters; all other license their characters from other role-playing game franchises. The first title, Torneko no Daibōken: Fushigi no Dungeon starred Torneko, a shopkeeper character from the same developer's Dragon Quest IV (Chunsoft being developer of the first five Dragon Quest games). Mystery Dungeon games are notable for being among the few console games in the roguelike genre. Chunsoft has also started several lines of branded Mystery Dungeon games, one featuring the Chocobo from the Final Fantasy series and one featuring Pokémon. The Chocobo games have been noted for further simplifying the genre's difficulty to appeal to a wider and younger audience.
Most Mystery Dungeon games centre around exploring a dungeon with randomly generated layouts and fighting other characters therein in a turn-based manner; every time the player performs an action such as attacking or walking, the opponents also take action. Chunsoft itself described the gameplay as being like chess. Escape from the dungeon is usually only allowed in certain places, or through the use of certain items. Additionally, when the player loses the game the player loses all money plus half the player's items in the more forgiving variants, or loses everything and has to start from scratch in others. An effort has also been made to expand the series gameplay features, such as adding job systems to some titles, and giving each dungeon a different feel and goal. Features distinct to the Shiren the Wanderer series include the "Melding Jar" which allows players to synthesize items and weapons into more powerful ones. The series features an original cast on occasion, which has as its hero Shiren the Wanderer, who journeys with a talking weasel named Koppa, and during their adventures they meet many characters such as Shiren's brother Pekeji, and Orya, a female character that blinds every man she meets.
Famitsu awarded a 36/40 to Fushigi no Dungeon: Fūrai no Shiren 2: Oni Shūrai! Shiren-jō!. The series has been both praised and criticized for its difficulty, and generally noted for the uneven quality of the randomly generated levels, or "floors", the games produce.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team and Red Rescue Team sold over one million copies. The Chocobo series is thought to have had middling success, with strong launch sales but not a huge popular response. Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity was the 18th best selling game in Japan in 2012, selling over 373,000 copies.
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