- Developer: Chunsoft
- Publisher: Spike Chunsoft US
- Release Date: 02/12/2020
- Price: $19.99 / £17.99
- Review code provided by Spike Chunsoft
Introducing Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate Review
As I’ve mentioned in other reviews, Roguelikes are one of my favourite genres. Recently, I’ve got the opportunity to play one of the progenitors of the console roguelike – Shiren the Wanderer. This is actually a remaster of the 5th Shiren the Wanderer game originally released way back in 2010 for the Nintendo DS. We in the US wouldn’t get a chance to play it until the Vita release in 2016. With 16 bit graphics and tough as nails gameplay, lets discuss what makes Shiren the Wanderer great – but also not so great.
This is the Beginning of a Strange and MYSTERIOUS Journey
Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate begins as Shiren, along with his ferret buddy Koppa, wander aimlessly before happening upon a small village. It’s here that begins their journey towards the Tower of Fortune. It’s said they may be able to meet a Goddess that can change their fate on the top. They also meet other characters that are trying to change their own fate and as such, you can partner up before entering dungeons. Before you can meet said Goddess however, you’ll need to find the titular Dice of Fate to summon her. So in order to help a sick villager, Shiren and Koppa embark on their quest.
Gear Up or Get Taken Down
With Shiren being one of the first console roguelikes, it sets up a lot of mechanics used within the genre – even to this day. For example, one thing that may throw off newcomers is while you gain levels traversing a dungeon, you‘re set back to level 1 anytime you‘re killed. With that being said, it’s incredibly important to make sure your gear is top notch. Due to the nature of the game loop, it’s incredibly important to know when to store weapons and money for future use. This is because upon death, you‘ll lose everything if it hasn’t been stored. That’s right, this is one of the OGs of roguelikes so deaths are incredibly punishing.
Along with all the death punishments, there’s a hunger meter, as well as hit points and status ailments to keep track of. There’s also traps within the dungeon that can do many things to your character such as force you to unequip all your weapons/armour, or others that force you to stay in one place. Even with all these dangers in place, the game still manages to be incredibly fun. The hunger meter doesn’t deplete too fast, and there are plenty of items to help you along the way. Not to mention you can find traveling merchants that can upgrade your gear or sell you items within the dungeon itself.
Welcome to Town!
Speaking of the gear, you can upgrade that and it’s definitely recommended to do so as much as humanly possible. That’s what keeps you alive in this crazy mystery dungeon world. Also, if you equip the same type of weapon/shield (such as Tin Sword/Tin Shield) then you get a bonus and can equip an additional bracelet. Apparently there are a bunch of different types of weapon and armor combos to discover, but I only managed to find a handful through general experimentation. As far as the bracelets go, they can do things like prevent you from sleeping if you get hit with a sleep spell or increasing your strength, among other effects.
Fortunately, there’s a hub town with various amenities to help keep you alive and your gear going. There’s an item vault and a money vault to keep your more precious items safe as well as your gold stash. There’s a shop that lets you put in an item and get a random more powerful item back. However, it takes some time so you’ll probably go through the dungeon a few times to get that item. On top of all of that, you can hire temporary help within the dungeons so that you have that much more of a chance to survive. While those are the bigger amenities in the game, there are also things like points card to get unique items and even monster taming in the game so you can have monster helpers. It’s a pretty solid offering from one of the OGs.
Old School Feel, New School Package
One thing that I found charming was the art style. It has a pleasing 16 bit aesthetic that would have felt completely at home as a late SNES title or early PS1 title. Not to say the graphics/framerate are terrible on the Switch or anything as this version is the best looking version since you get a nice viewing size that the Vita and DS version lacked. The sound effects are adequate and I enjoyed the music presented in the game even if it got mildly monotonous at times.
The Only Bugs I’m Fightin’ are Bees
During my gameplay – I didn’t really find any issues. My experience within both Handheld and Docked were comparable, however there was a patch released recently that fixes an issue with text overflow and freezes regarding when BGM changes between areas. I however never experienced these issues.
Are You Ready to Roll the Dice of Fate?
To sum up, this is a pretty great port of a game that originally released on the DS/Vita. It’s one I found to be great fun despite the fact it’s difficulty was off the chart at times. However, there’s tons of gear and items to find, along with a ton of in-town amenities and partners to help you through the various dungeons. I also found the graphics to be quite charming and hold up very well, especially with the resurgence of retro games. Thankfully, there wasn’t a ton of bugs during my playthrough. All in all – for $19.99! on the US eShop, you can’t really go wrong with this game especially since they’ve added three additional dungeons for the Nintendo Switch release. There’s a lot to love if you want to see how roguelikes started on consoles.
- Awesome 16 bit art
- Lots of things to collect and do
- Three Additional Dungeons!
- May be difficult for new roguelike players
- Music isn’t anything to write home about