Watching Things Grow in “Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity”

William Shatner looks out the window and shouts, "There's a gremlin on the wing! Oh, wait, it's just Pikachu..."

There are currently over 649 known Pokemon species. I wonder how many of them you could cram into this cool-looking plane. Love the Pokeball designs on the turbines!

I love seeing things grow and prosper.  There is just something about seeing an individual, group, or other entity grow to maturity and thrive that I find endlessly fascinating.  The Nintendo 3DS video game Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity has allowed me to indulge in this pastime in many different ways.  I have developed a distinct level of admiration and care for the characters within the game, and I wish to see them doing well, especially after I spent so much time getting to know them in the first place.

Like a good soap opera, my time in Gates to Infinity has revolved around the denizens of Post Town, an outpost of life in a world filled with chaos, or “mysteriosity” as the game refers to it.  I first discovered this town through the eyes of Wottson the Oshawott, a Pokemon who looks like an otter crossed with a beaver.  Wottson is actually a human transformed through unknown circumstances.  Already, the game was making me ask questions about the situation I found myself in.  Who was I before I became an Oshawott?  Would I ever be able to turn back into a human, and what did I look like before?  What was I thinking when I gave this character a name invoking both the type of Pokemon he is and the name of Sherlock Holmes’ assistant?

There was little time to ponder these questions, however, as I soon gained a new friend, partner, and “man Friday” in the form of Arxie the dinosaur-like Axew (again, not too clever a nickname, I know, but trust me, there is great value in a dopey sidekick name: Captain America has Bucky, the Golden Age Sandman from DC Comics has Sandy, Indiana Jones has Short Round, etc.).  Arxie told me that the world I was now in was full of strange happenings, with shifting landscapes, magical items and artifacts, and most importantly, Pokemon in desperate need of help.  I soon formed a “rescue team” with him, recruiting other Pokemon to support our cause and help us to clear “dungeons,” places with randomly generated pathways full of enemy Pokemon to fight and items to collect.  Exploring these places started out as just a hobby for me, but soon I became emotionally invested in the way my team moved through them, cheering on all of my teammates as they got stronger and learned new skills.  I have a very strong team now, and I view it as a “band of brothers” like in the army; all of the team members support each other for the good of all, and I try my best to not leave a single member behind when we are out on an exploration mission.

I am surprised I care so deeply about the other members because in terms of basic game play, they amount to little more than an arsenal of different power types to clear different types of dungeons (for instance, fire works well in ice environments, light turns back dark, etc.).  In little movies that play between adventures, though, I came to know these characters better and became interested in their motivations for joining my group.  Emolga, a flying squirrel-type Pokemon, was one of my first major recruits (as in, a character who actually played a vital part in the overall story); at the start I was slightly annoyed with his overenthusiastic mannerisms, but he soon proved to have a big caring heart and quickly became one of my favorite partners to explore with.  Dunsparce, a bumblebee with the wings cut off who crawls along on the ground like a slug, was afraid to walk into danger because he thought of himself as being much weaker than the other members.  This may have been true in the beginning (astonishingly low defense stats stick out in my mind), but as I took him along with me, he became a much more capable Pokemon; if only he could now recognize his own true greatness instead of wallowing in self-pity.  Dunsparce has also struck up a romantic relationship with Virizion, a large green deerlike Pokemon who was strangely aloof before but has more recently shown a tender side.  She has another exploration partner who has gone missing which caused her to lose her passion for adventure for a bit until my team came along and revived her hopes.  I do hope Dunsparce and Virizion stay together for a long time; they make for a very cute couple and have become two of my group’s strongest members.

In addition to watching my team increase in membership, I have seen Pokemon Paradise and Post Town grow larger and larger.  When I first came to the area where Paradise currently stands, it was a barren patch of land with virtually nothing to show for it.  As time passed and my team’s reputation grew, it slowly became filled with Pokemon who wanted a home, which I was more than happy to provide.  They, in turn, have opened up shops, training grounds, and other facilities which my team uses to keep healthy and limber in their spare time.  It makes me proud whenever I see a new shop open and another Pokemon move in because it is a real, visible sign of my team’s growth.  The nearby Post Town has grown slightly as well; it was already well-populated before my team was established, but its citizens were glum concerning the fate of the world.  As hope springs anew in the area, they have become noticeably happier but still seem, to me, to be excercising caution lest their new hopes become dashed.  I want to justify their hopes.

In the world of Gates to Infinity, growth is a sign that things are getting better.  With each piece of wasteland that becomes home to a new part of Paradise, with each Post Town Pokemon who gains a positive outlook, with every new level of experience my team partners and I reach, the world starts to look a little brighter.  Everywhere I look in this game, I see a constant state of growth.  I cannot wait to see what continued prosperity in the area will look like.

Have you ever watched something grow before your very eyes?  How did you feel about its growth?  Let me know in the comments and watch our conversation grow.

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