|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Chunsoft||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Sega||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 4, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Let me preface this by saying that dungeon-based gameplay is in no way well-suited to casual or even regular-level gamers. And no, I'm not referring in any way to the Pokemon: Mysterious Dungeon games; those were dungeon-like, but definitely do not represent the true Roguelike essence of the genre. And that essence is difficult, time-consuming, and requires a great deal of commitment from anyone brave enough to try to attempt it. Not to say that it isn't fun, but I'm just warning you beforehand. Don't even bother trying to play this game unless you've got a thick skin.
That being said, Mysterious Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer is a port of an old-school game for the SNES. The way this game works is by starting you off on a journey. You begin in a town and from there proceed through many randomly selected dungeons of varying difficulty levels. You go through all of these dungeons exploring the terrain, fighting various monsters and bad guys, and talking to people you meet. The battle system is touted as something akin to chess, although I would liken it more to checkers. It is turn-based, but with a twist: everything you do counts as a turn and gives your enemies a chance to strike. Every step you take literally counts as a turn, and while this is definitely an interesting approach to the gameplay, it makes certain tasks impossible. For instance, if you run into an enemy with long range attacks where every step you take counts as a turn, you can't run away because the monster will hit you every time you take a step, and you'll probably die.
And dying in this game is extremely harsh. Have you ever been frustrated after dying in a game and having to start over at the beginning of a level? Well, that doesn't happen in this game. In Mysterious Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer, you start over at the beginning of the entire GAME. You have no items, you are at level one, and trust me you'll feel just a little rage. Especially if you have put upwards of ten hours into your dungeon-wandering travels (which is entirely possible), the whole start-from-beginning thing is enough to make you put down the game and never come back. It is worth mentioning that there is a "rescue mode," which allows you to connect to Nintendo Wi-Fi where it will match you with someone who is online and has gone through the same dungeon you have gotten yourself stuck in, and gone back to the beginning of the game (without dying) and has decided to act benevolently instead of pursuing further success in the game. And let me tell you, there's not many of these people. I waited about an hour for a rescue and no one ever showed up. Although the good news is that if you have a friend you can call up that can rescue you, then you can enter their friend code. But if you are relying on the kindness of others, then you may find yourself rather disappointed.
Other than some of the inherent challenges of the dungeon-style of gameplay, Mysterious Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer is a pretty fun game. Once you develop a strategy for staying alive (my suggestion is to stock up on arrows so you don't have to waste turns on moving), the game is pretty fun. There's no real conducive story; you're just wandering around in search of a mythical being that can grant wishes, bring peace to the world, etc. And if you don't have a constant fear of death, you'll probably get a kick out of all of the mini-quests and side missions that you can perform in addition to your wandering. There's actually quite a lot to this game, if you have the gumption to take it on.