|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: ChunSoft||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atlus||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 9, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Fortunately, if you don't feel like moving your companion individually, you can let the companion follow you (Pokémon Mystery Dungeon-style), and you won't have to worry about giving individual walk commands (you can just hold down the D-pad) and the companion will attack when the AI sees fit. The ability to switch between the AI-controlled companion and the full control mode is very useful as you can quickly speed across areas like towns and sparsely-populated dungeons with your companion following you, and then you can switch to full control to flank opponents and bosses.
As far as technical aspects go, unfortunately, Shiren the Wanderer is a mixed bag. The visuals are pretty good with some impressive pre-rendered cutscenes punctuating the plot. The in-engine graphics are a little less impressive, but everything runs smoothly overall. However, on the negative side, the game's soundtrack is abysmal. There is absolutely no voiceover, the sound effects are minimalist at best, and the background music is incredibly repetitive. Although I understand it can be quite a chore to localize a game with a full or partial voiceover, with two years between the Japanese and US releases, I expected more in the sound department.
Control in the game is very simple, and you'll have a choice between using the Wii-mote vertically with the Nunchuck attachment or horizontally. Using the Wii-mote vertically feels awkward, but the thumbstick offers greater precision when trying to move diagonally. Still, the horizontal style is easier to use, and feels more natural. Both control schemes offer shortcut buttons for common actions (like throwing a rock or performing an about-face) but these shortcut button combinations are awkwardly placed and most times it is easier to just go through the menus rather than use the shortcuts.
Shiren the Wanderer is definitely a niche title and won't be for everyone. Much like last year's Demon's Souls, this title will mostly appeal to the hardcore sect. However, I think the development team has done a great job opening up the format. Even though the dungeon-crawling scheme is a little bit antiquated, if you like other dungeon-crawlers, Shiren the Wanderer is a must-buy. If you want to check out a dungeon-crawler for the first time, Shiren the Wanderer is a great jumping-off point. Just make sure you select the Easy difficulty!
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor