An update of a Super Nintendo Entertainment System title, Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer is an old-school, turn-based dungeon-crawler. It's slow, intense, and unforgiving - all of which might be a turn off to gamers weaned on modern titles - but for those that appreciate old-school sensibilities, Shiren the Wanderer offers dozens of hours of slow-burning fun.
Gamers control a wandering adventurer named Shiren, who is accompanied by his mouthy weasel Koppa. The two are on a quest to the Lair of the Golden Condor. This is all a good excuse to explore randomly generated dungeons, fight monsters, and snatch items. Players will explore caverns (that look like dungeons), forests (that look like dungeons), and mountain ranges (that look like…wait for it…dungeons).
The action and movement in this game are completely turn based, which makes for a slow game. The deliberate pace is somewhat necessary, since players have to be mindful about every step they take - a zig in the wrong direction can make the difference between escaping a dungeon and being devoured by a monster that's way too powerful to defeat.
On the plus side, the dungeon generation can be very clever, there are loads of cool power-ups, and the monsters are pretty neat. On the downside, the dungeon generation can be moronic and if Shiren dies, he loses everything - all the items, money, and powers he attained through hours of questing are gone. Games, in general, have gotten easier since this title was originally released on the SNES and this unforgiving style simply won't fly with players raised on newer games. That said, this style will surely appeal to old-school gamers. And also to sadists.
One curious addition in this update is its Wi-Fi feature. If a player dies, they have the option (which can be exercised thrice) to have another player rescue them via Wi-Fi. The reward for the rescuer is a powerful item. However, the rescuer has no idea how deep in a dungeon the downed player might be - this could mean a five-minute rescue or a one-hour ordeal. It's one thing to have friends that are willing to bail you out, but we can't imagine too many people randomly looking for players to save.
Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer offers a lot of quality gameplay to a very small audience. What it does, it does very well. We're sure there's a small audience that will adore the game. We're also sure the majority of today's gamers will find it nasty, plodding, and archaic.
Mar 11, 2008