DUNGEON MAKER: HUNTING GROUND - PSP - Preview
Step one: Buy tools. Step two: Build dungeon ...
Well, that what you are up to in the newest take on RPGing, Dungeon Maker: Hunting Ground. I digress, it's really not that simple of a formula. Instead, the preview copy that I received worked a bit more like this. You play a young enterprising do-gooder who has come to town in order to fill a niche. It seems that this peaceful little town is constantly being attacked by the monsters that roam the land. In an effort to quash the problem, you (again, enterprising young man) decide to build a dungeon on the outskirts of town. The thought is, if a dungeon is built, it will attract all of the nasties roaming the countryside instead of them going into town. Once in the dungeon, you get to go in after them and pretty much lay waste to everything that gets lost or decides to take up residence in your little cave.
But oh no, that's not it, you see there is another ulterior motive (your key to quality gaming) our enterprising young man hopes to build a dungeon so awesome, and attract all the right monsters that the king of the monsters - the Wandering Demon - will eventually show up so he can kill it.
Now the title has just the right amount of appeal at this stage to really get my excitement up. The back story is that there have apparently been other dungeon makers who have tried and failed or left due to getting their collective butts whupped up on by the very monsters they tried to trap and kill. But in my copy (and please remember that preview copies don't always contain end-copy information) after luring in some minor annoyance monsters, and your plan begins working, the townspeople begin getting behind you. The various shops provide you with magic and weapons/tools while the local architect will sell you floorplans and blueprint-style designs so you can really start beefing up your dungeon.
As your dungeon becomes more complex and well thought out, tougher monsters show up. By destroying these monsters, the treasure value also increases. Soon you will be dungeon crawling like a pro, and because you designed the dungeon, there shouldn't be any real surprises (yet). What's more, once you clean out your dungeon, you can rebuild rooms you don't like or even whole sections. Then you go back into town, sell off your newly acquired treasure, get a good night's sleep and head back in the morning. Amazingly, new monsters have moved in for you to mow down. Your character pretty much levels up like any other RPG you have played. You do use both weapons and magic in this one, and I really liked that about the game.
From what I saw of the graphics I really liked the almost-warm and inviting way things looked. The town itself totally reminded me of those early Sega Saturn PS1 RPGs with the stubby little castle and perfect houses. And while I wouldn't say the game is the best I have seen in a PSP title, it does look quite good. The dungeon making/exploring is set in a third person perspective with dynamic camera chasing behind. Plus, if you get to a point where you can afford it, you can really start doing some creative things within your dungeon. Improved wall structure, floors and even water fountains to attract baddies.
Right now, I would say this is shaping up to be a decent title. It has a new fresh take on the RPG genre and allows players to try something different without it being overly complex. Let's hope the final product is everything I think it can be.