Revisiting Pokemon Red Rescue Team: The Adventures of Team LANmolas
I've always had a soft spot for the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series, ever since younger me got Red Rescue Team when it came out in 2006. Recently, as a product of boredom and procrastination, I decided to replay it once again, to see how well it held up, and due to its simplicity compared to the further entries in the series.
Plus, who WOULDN'T want to play a game where you're a pokémon?
Okay... maybe like Oprah... Bill Gates... people with actual friends and better things to do than to play an old RPG meant for kids...
But since I'm not any of those people, I booted up the game and was greeted with a Pelipper delivering a letter to some bitcrushed music over a static title display screen. Ohhh boy. It's relevant that younger me was much more easily impressed.
After filling out some seemingly nonsensical questions to eerie music, fate, Nintendo, and PRE-ARCEUS POKÉMON GOD HIMSELF determined that the pokémon corresponding most with my individualistic, highly complex personality is... a Bulbasaur.
Well unfortunately for fate, I have the supreme power of soft-resetting and did so until I got something decent. Like Mudkip. Alright, let's do this.
Immediately, newfound pokémon-me is thrown head-first into plot convenience; I am found lying in a field by a random pokémon walking by, and am asked to join his rescue team. Part of me wonders if he wanders around this area often, waiting for passed out pokémon to pester about joining his team. As much as I’d rather spend my time as a pokémon doing something cool, I submit to his demands. Plus, the game doesn’t let me say no, which is disappointing. And he basically gave me a free house, so I guess I’ll stick with him for now.
I decided to name my partner after Xander, since he's the only person who would be able to tolerate going on adventures with me. Easy part, done. Creating the team name has always posed more difficulty for me. When I first played this game, I took the default (which is 'Team Pokémon') and added the first letter of the typing of my partner and me at the end. Either that, or I’d make a portmanteau of my partner and my names. It was never pleasant. Since then, I've matured, and learned the sophistication of interdimensional video game puns. And so, Team LANmolas was born, bound to further connect the pokémon species through rescues and awful Zelda references.
Although, nobody I encounter early on appreciates my pun, or seems to believe I was a human who turned into a pokémon. Not my partner, the townsfolk, or even the pokémon we have helped thus far. No one! Guess they haven't heard of the magic of the all-knowing questionnaire. Or reincarnation.
But what they all have heard of, for sure, is legends. A few rescue missions into the game, and my partner and I learn the world's balance is upset, explaining the increase of mystery dungeons and natural disasters. The suspicion regarding my transformation into a pokémon being a catalyst to these events rises, as more is learned about the myth. This leads to my partner and I scaling a giant, treacherous mountain to meet the legendary, elusive Xatu, who stares at the sun all day, which somehow makes him qualified to fill me in on my life. He basically tells me I'm a prime suspect for singlehandedly screwing up the world. Nice.
But unfortunately for me and these increased suspicions surrounding my identity, a Gengar, who is the leader of the rival rescue team, Team Meanies, was eavesdropping the entire time. How he was able to gain access to the mountain and scale it alone is beyond me. And also, Team Meanies? He’s just framing himself as the antagonist. No subtlety is allowed here.
Being as lost and mystified about my past and purpose in this world as ever, we decide to pay a visit to the town elder once we get back to town, to clear things up. (It's obvious he's the elder because he just sits in a pond all day and stares at the nearby pokémon instead of contributing to the economy). He elaborates a bit more about the supposed Ninetales legend, in which a human grabbed the tail of a Ninetales, and was supposed to be cursed for 1,000 years, but was protected by their partner pokémon, a Gardevoir. Coincidentally enough, I've been having dreams in which a Gardevoir visits me, telling me about my role and all that philosophical stuff. Better call in that judge guy from Ace Attorney because at this point I'm sure I'm guilty of ruining their world. Oops.
Although, all of this raises several questions:
If humans and pokémon coexist in this universe, why are there societies of pokémon without human influence? And why do pokémon and people keep track of time using the same units, and communicate with the same language? Are pokémon subservient to humans, despite their sentience?
And how do mystery dungeons work anyway? Do all venturing pokémon have to carry around stationary with them in case they faint? Who collects the stationary? The Pelipper? Why don’t the Pelipper help them out? Or... do pokémon have some kind of adventuring life alert technology, where if they faint, a notification is sent out? And if dungeons change every time they are entered, how do I know I'm going to enter the correct one to save that specific pokémon? Nintendo, I demand answers.
Well, while I was busy questioning the world and talking to elders, Gengar was informing all like... eight of the other pokémon who live in town about my dilemma. They all instantly believe him and come to the only sensible conclusion: I should be dead. That'll solve everything.
So, the next morning, I set off with my trusty partner through a series of dungeons where they're sure to never find, or be able to follow us.
Just kidding, they're close by the entire time. We're apparently not very good at planning escape routes.
We're a team consisting of a Mudkip and a Treecko, who have been adventuring for like five hours total, and we're able to defeat the legendary Moltres and Articuno without even batting an eye. Everyone else in this world must suck at adventuring, which raises suspicion about how they spend their free time.
So, we meet the fabled Ninetales in a snowy forest, and... GASP! PLOT TWIST! GENGAR WAS SPREADING FALSE PROPAGANDA AGAINST ME! Who would've guessed the leader of Team Meanies would ever tell a lie, or do something um… mean? And from there, everyone in this hive minded society apologizes for not standing up against Gengar, because apparently they all knew I was innocent all along. And none of them said anything about it. Right. They're all about as two-dimensional as the graphics.
But wait, there's no time for relaxation, as we learn a shooting star is hurtling towards Pokémon Earth, which will eviscerate everyone! But based on my experience here, that wouldn't be such a bad thing. So, a rescue team is required to climb Sky Tower and talk it out with Rayquaza, to get him to do something. And naturally, why send the qualified, experienced, evolved pokémon team when the kids will do it, right? And surprise, surprise! Turns out there's a chance that the team who goes to Sky Tower won't make it back alive.
I never realized this before, but I'm pretty sure everyone in this world wanted me dead from the start. That's freakishly morbid. Kinda comet punched my nostalgia in the face, too.
So, the brave and severely under qualified Team LANmolas makes its way into the sky, defeats Rayquaza, and the world is saved! But unfortunately, this means my role as a pokémon has ended, and I need to go back to the human world. I was basically turned into a pokémon to save their world, and now since that's done, I get to leave.
Except I don't wanna leave because I love Xander too much. Screw the fact that everyone here has no emotional range and follows others blindly. There's no Xander on Human Earth. And I can't live like that. So I wish really hard and… BAM! I get to spend the rest of my life in virtual purgatory, saving pokémon. I really hope I didn't have a family or a job back on Earth.
And thus ends the journey of Team LANmolas. It's been awhile since I played this game through in its entirety, but it's not as good as my past memories led me to believe. This game shouldn't be played by anyone who doesn't have a prior connection to it. The main story is much shorter than I remember. While this was a jumping off point for a spinoff that will always have a place in my heart, I would recommend PMD: Explorers of Sky to anyone looking to try out this series.