Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team and Red Rescue Team are two spin-off games released in the Pokémon franchise. Like every other Pokémon game, this was released in a pair of games (for example, Pokémon Red/Blue, Pokémon Gold/Silver). There are only minor differences between the two, mainly relating to the Pokémon in the game. The game was released on November 17, 2005 in Japan, September 18, 2006 in North America, September 28, 2006 in Australia, and November 10, 2006 in Europe. Blue Rescue Team was released for the Nintendo DS, while Red Rescue Team was released for the Game Boy Advance (which accounted for many of the differences between the two). The game was developed by Chunsoft and published by Nintendo.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon plays like the other games in Chunsoft's Mystery Dungeon franchise (although it has been changed to a more Pokémon centered theme). When the game starts, the player answers a personality quiz, which then turns the player into one of the sixteen starter Pokémon. Then, the player can choose one of ten partners. There are certain Pokémon that the player cannot be if they are one gender (for example, a male player cannot be Skitty, Chikorita, or Eevee).
The player then takes control of the Rescue Team. Initially, the Rescue Team contains only the player and his or her partner. They are sent on missions where they have to rescue certain Pokémon, deliver an item, or escort a Pokémon. These missions can be picked up at the bulletin board in the overworld, and then initiated by leaving the town (and choosing an area to go to).
Other Pokémon can also be recruited for the Rescue Team. Recruiting Pokémon is relating to the mechanic in main Pokémon games where the player captures Pokémon with a Poké Ball. To get certain Pokémon, their Friend Area must be acquired via a shop in the town ( Wigglytuff sells these areas). If the player has a Friend Area, then there is a chance for other Pokémon to request to join the team after defeating it.
The combat in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon all takes place in the randomly-generated dungeons (of Chunsoft's creation). The dungeons are grid-based, and semi-turn based. Each Pokémon can attack other Pokémon on nearby squares (with varying attack distances). Some attacks even take place across the entire screen, such as Heat Wave.
Stats in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon can be upgraded in many ways. The IQ stat is upgraded by eating Gummis, of which there are seventeen types (each Pokémon prefers a different kind of Gummi). The higher the IQ of a Pokémon, the more moves it learns. IN addition, it can be taught moves from TMs. Other items, such as Gravelerocks, deal attack after being thrown.
Evolution in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon differs from other games in the Pokémon franchise. Disasters in the world of Mystery Dungeon have made it so that Pokémon cannot evolve, but there is an area in the town where the player can visit to evolve certain Pokémon (although sometimes they are required to be a certain level, holding a certain item, or have a certain level of IQ).
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon opens with the player (formerly a human) waking up as a Pokémon. The Pokémon that woke him up explains that he found the player just like that; unconscious on a field. The player quickly comes to the realization that he has been turned into a Pokémon, but apparently has amnesia (except for the memory that he was previously a human). The partner explains that the Pokémon world has recently been riddled with natural disasters (these disasters are also preventing Pokémon from evolving). Just then, a Butterfree flies up, and in a frenzy asks the two to help her find her lost child, a Caterpie. After saving the child, the partner and player Pokémon decide to form a Rescue Team.
In the world of Pokémon, there are many more Rescue Teams, including the world-famous Team ACT (consisting of Alakazam, Charizard, and Tyranitar; the name is from the anime) and Team Meanies (Gengar, Ekans, and Medicham, who are all intent on the ultimate goal of world domination). After rescuing several more Pokémon, the Rescue Team that the player forms has grown to include several more Pokémon, including a Magnemite.
The plot of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon revolves around the legend of Ninetales. According to the legend, whoever touches a Ninetales' tails will then be cursed for one thousand years. The legend also tells of one human who purposely touched the tail of a Ninetales. The human's Pokémon, Gardevoir, sacrificed itself for its master, throwing itself in the way of the Ninetales' attack. Feeling compassion on Gardevoir, the Ninetales asked the human if he wanted to help his Pokémon, but he had already run away. Furious, the Ninetales said that one day the human would be reborn as a Pokémon.
More about this legend is revealed as the story progresses. The unravel the mystery of the player's amnesia, the Rescue Team travels to the Hill of the Ancients, where a wise Xatu lives. Xatu can instantly tell that the player was formerly a human, and reveals that the natural disasters are directly related to the player's transformation. Unless order is restored to the world, it is possible that it could end. During this exchange, Team Meanies' leader, Gengar, is eavesdropping. Gengar then reveals this secret to the entire town, trying to rally the townspeople to eliminate the player.
Only a few supporters of the player are left, including the partner Pokémon. Even the player begins to believe Gengar's claims (due to the fact that he has been dreaming about Gardevoir, the Pokémon from the Ninetales legend). The partner continually tries to convince the player that these dreams are unrelated, but the player decides that he is unworthy to be on the Rescue Team. Alakazam of Team ACT visits the player later that night and tells him that it has been decided; the player is to be murdered, and he has one night to escape.
The two escape to the northeast of the world, trying to avoid other rescue teams that are attacking them all the while. Along the way, they find the three legendary Pokémon Moltres, Articuno, and Zapdos (all of whom are also feeling the effect of the natural disasters). They also befriend an Absol who is trying to find the cause of the natural disasters. At the top of Mt. Freeze, the Rescue Team is finally cornered by Team ACT. As Team ACT is about to kill the Rescue Team, Ninetales comes to say that the human in the legend is not the player.
Ninetales has more revelations as well; the natural disasters are in no way related to a Pokémon transformation, but rather are more related to the recent awakening of Groudon. Team ACT leaves to go defeat Groudon, while the Rescue Team returns to the town (where they manage to convince the residents that they are not the cause of the natural disasters). The celebration is interrupted, however, when news comes that Team ACT has been declared missing, and a rescue team is needed to save them.
Another team is assembled to save Team ACT; a team consisting of Blastoise (from Team Hydro), Octillery (from Team Constrictor), and Golem (from Team Rumblerock). The three also fail, not even managing to get to Groudon. The player and partner eventually agree to go stop Groudon themselves, and rescue Team ACT in the process. In Magma Cavern (Groudon's home), they find Charizard and Tyranitar have been defeated and Alakazam is attempting to battle Groudon by himself. The Rescue Team jumps in, defeating Groudon and saving Team ACT.
As they are celebrating their victory, however, news comes of a large meteor hurtling towards the world. The only way to stop the meteor is to appeal to the sky Pokémon Rayquaza. The only rescue team able to do this is the player and partner (due to the fact that it takes the combined psychic potential of Xatu and Alakazam to send a team to the home of Rayquaza). After teleporting to the sky, they are forced to battle Rayquaza into submission. After doing so, Rayquaza agrees to use his powerful Hyper Beam attack to obliterate the meteor.
The player and partner awake on the ground, safe. They are surrounded by their supporters, and are hailed as heroes. The natural disasters are ending. With the world at peace, the player has to return as a human. However, as he leaves, all of the Pokémon realize how much of an impact that the player had on their lives (especially the partner, who bursts into tears). After the credits roll, the player truly wishes to return as a Pokémon. The story ends with a celebration of his return.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon was adapted into a twenty-one minute long television special. The special was titled Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Team Go-Getters Out Of The Gate!, and was aired on September 8, 2006 in North America. The episode stars Squirtle, Charmander, and Chikorita (the members of Team Go-Getters). Squirtle is the human who has been transformed into a Pokémon in the show.
A six-part manga series that ran an English version in Nintendo Power was also released. The short manga, titled Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Ginji's Rescue Team, stars Ginji, a young boy who gets transformed into a Torchic. Ginji forms a rescue team with Mudkip. Then, they embark on an adventure to discover the reason that Ginji was transformed into a Pokémon, and to try and figure out how to turn him back into a human. In the end, Ginji manages to get turned back into a human.