Part 15: Friend Areas, Pokémon recruitment, and you!
It wouldn't be a Pokémon game without the ability to "catch 'em all", and Pokémon Mystery Dungeon is no exception. Instead of throwing Pokéballs to catch them, however, we need to befriend them. This involves several steps.
First we need a Friend Area for the Pokémon we want to recruit. There are many Friend Areas we can acquire, sorted into several groups (though some groups contain only one Friend Area); each dot on this map is a group. In turn, each Friend Area can hold one or more Pokémon; each Pokémon species has a specific Friend Area it will call home. Wigglytuff will tell us which Friend Area a Pokémon we've encountered favors, as well as which Pokémon we've encountered favor a particular Friend Area; once we own a Friend Area, we can also check for ourselves by visiting it and choosing 'Info' from the menu.
Talking to one of our team members in a friend area gives us this menu; we use the 'Join Team' menu option to have him join us in the next dungeon (after which he will return to the Friend Area), and the 'Stand By' option which replaces it to have him return to waiting for us. At the moment, Jake and Sheldon must remain in the team at all times, so we can only take one other member on adventures; after the credits roll, however, we'll be able to choose any team we want, under the number and size limitations I mentioned earlier. The other options here are self-explanatory, with the possible exception of 'Say Farewell', which actually kicks the Pokémon off the team altogether; naturally, we're never doing that.
At the moment, we have five Friend Areas:
Power Plant (Ruins), where Floyd is hanging out;
Turtleshell Pond (Pond), where Sheldon sleeps;
Wild Plains (South Plains) and Mist-Rise Forest (Eastern Forest), which the Wigglytuff gave us;
and Energetic Forest (Eastern Forest). Why do we have Energetic Forest? Because that's the Friend Area for Meowths; if we remove Jake from the party (which we can't currently do), he'll wait there for us to return.
In addition to these free starting areas, we acquire Friend Areas in three ways. By far the most common is buying them from Wigglytuff; Friend Areas run from the dirt cheap to the downright expensive, and Wigglytuff adds more to his (her?) menu as the game progresses. We can also recruit a few Pokémon, generally legendaries, who come with their own Friend Area; they're the exception to the rule that we need the friend area before we can recruit the Pokémon.
The last source of starting areas is Wonder Mail. There are four Friend Areas that can only be acquired through Wonder Mail: Sky Blue Plains, Boulder Cave, Dragon Cave, and Mt. Moonview. The first of these even has an associated sidequest, so we'll want to pick it up soon.
So now that we have the Friend Areas, how do we recruit? Well, we have to defeat Pokémon in battle. To be precise, our leader has to deal the finishing blow while at melee range. We also have to have room in our current party, which is limited to four members and six stars of size. (While we can only enter a dungeon with a party of three, to make room for potential escortees, we can expand up to four inside the dungeon.) If we meet all these criteria, the dice get rolled.
Different Pokémon have different likelihoods of joining us; some even have a negative chance of recruitment. To counter this, we get two bonuses. One is the Friend Bow, which boosts the recruitment rate by 10%. (To be clear, if the recruitment rate is 0.1%, it becomes 10.1%. This is a nice item, as previously noted.) The second is our leader's level; starting at level 30, we receive a bonus to the recruitment rate, starting at 5% and topping out at 24% at level 90 or higher.
The hardest Pokémon to recruit is Kecleon. It has a -33.9% recruitment rate, so we have to have the Friend Bow and be at least level 90 to get even a 0.1% chance of one joining us. It's not the only Pokémon to have such a low recruitment rate, but the others can be obtained by evolving other, more easily caught Pokémon. Add in that Kecleons only show up in dungeons under specific circumstances, are appropriately leveled to fight a level 90 Pokémon, and do horrible things if they KO us for reasons that will be revealed, and, well...
Oh, and one last note: certain dungeons can't be recruited in. Tiny Woods is one of them. We can check from the 'Others' menu in a dungeon, suboption 'Recruitment search', whether we can recruit in a given dungeon and, if so, what Pokémon we've seen on that floor and whether we have the right Friend Area for them.
Join us next time when we start filling out our roster!