Review: Mystery Dungeon, Shiren The Wanderer

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We should all be used to grinding in dungeon crawlers, right? We get a bit frustrated at times, especially when we die and lose ALL of our items, money, and start back to level 1, right? RIGHT?! That’s just one out of many reasons why this game has a near endless list of faults. It is sad because this game had so much potential to become, at best, a decent dungeon crawler.

Where to begin? The graphics are somewhat enhanced from the original SNES version, so I won’t argue about the fact that Chun Soft or Sega could’ve spent a bit more time to polish this game for the DS. Add a few 3D effects to some of the spells, touch up on the background, and have a better soundtrack. Honestly, I would’ve given this game a less of a harsh grade if that were the case. But I’m stuck with what I’m given, and it’s not enough. Folks, when you port a game from a system of a past generation to a handheld of this generation, such as the Nintendo DS, I’d expect more effort into making it presentable to an audience that would want to look at something pleasing to the eye.

If you’re not understanding of what I’m saying, then let me put it this way; When you play a SNES game on the SNES console, you’ll understand what can be done on that console. The SNES has it’s limits and no one can argue that the graphics can be pushed further. Now when you play a SNES game on a DS, then you’d expect the graphics to be worked on so that it wouldn’t remind you that you are playing on a SNES. The same could be said about the game play, which in some cases that isn’t the issue. That Castlevania game, Rondo of Blood that got ported to the PSP, it got a total work over and not only does it look great, but the game play has also been improved as well! Come on now! What about Mystery Dungeon being ported games to the DS? Just a bit, but not enough. I would love to play the blame game right now, but I need to continue on with this.

The main character, Shiren, is silent through out the game, but his partner, Noppo, who is apparently a talking weasel, plays the part of the narrator. And that’s it. There’s nothing more than that for right now. I mean, I’ve only gotten so far because the game is THAT difficult. At the beginning of the game, which you will spend a LOT of time seeing, the towns folk will give you helpful hints of how to survive. Now, in most games that have towns folk giving you hints, it’s usually something you would already know or predict that would happen. However, these people actually tell you something helpful, such as what monster meat might do to you if you eat it, and how to prepare yourself for the next dungeon. They go into some detail of how to do what, but you get the idea.

Within the first town, there’s a guy named Fay, and he has a set of 50 puzzles that you can go through and win a prize at the end. Is it worth it? Yes and no. Yes, when it comes to winning a nifty sword at level one just by solving a quick and easy puzzle. And “no” when you solve a difficult puzzle that you’ve spent 15 or so times trying, and all you get is a freaking medical herb. Not only that, but you have to remove all of your items from your inventory before taking on these puzzles. And~all of your gitans (money) will be deleted, removed, vanished, fly away. You get the point, so you can kiss your 2,000 gitans once you accept a puzzle and there’s nothing you can do about it. So what do you do with the rest of your inventory? Go to the warehouse!

The warehouse is a blessing and a curse. You can store your items here so that when you die, they will still be there and not taken away when you die. That’s good and all, but what happens if I have this sword that’s really powerful and it’s the only one I got, then I get killed in a dungeon? Well, I’d lose that sword, but I’d still have my items in my warehouse! But wait! There’s more than one warehouse, but each one has their own storage space, so they won’t hold the same items from that last warehouse. This is somewhat remedied with couriers that can deliver items to your other warehouse. However, I came across this courier only once out of God knows how many tries through this game.

There is another problem, and that is the first warehouse is at the beginning town, and if you are level 15 and you decide to head back for those herbs, your level will be dropped back down to 1, PERMANENTLY. This game requires HOURS of game time and patience, so unless you have a lot of free time, then this would be a minor issue. Nonetheless, it is a ridicules factor to deal with. My advice is to be prepared for anything, but make sure to bring along a lot of rice balls. The monsters in every dungeon have their own strengths and weaknesses, so after a few trials and errors, you’ll get used to it.

Yes, this game is difficult and there’s very small room for error. It shows no love nor mercy when you get to the higher stages, which can be fun or very annoying. It all depends on the type of player that you are. If they, be it Chun Soft or Sega, decide to make a sequel to this game, I’d advise that if the player dies in a dungeon, have their loot in a bag for them to pick up once they return to that same place. Also, the player should be brought back to the closest town upon death, making it that less trivial to the player. Another thing that happens in the game, that rescue option when you die, you have the choice to wait for another player to revive you or to restart from the beginning. Now, I live out in the woods and I highly doubt there are other players here. Well, not unless raccoons and chipmonks learned to play the DS, I won’t get my sorry ass rescued. That’s just my own fault/personal arguement though, so take it with a grain of salt, as they say.

This game has a lot of potential to become a decent dungeon crawler, as I have said before, but there’s so much holding it back. I’ll still keep playing it, but only with rage in my heart and despair in my mind.


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