Shiren the Wanderer - WII - Review
In a distinct way, Shiren the Wanderer is a blessing in disguise. Normally, the Mystery Dungeon series doesn’t see much limelight outside of Japan. They are often labeled as “hardcore” and too niche for the U.S. audiences, but if Shiren the Wanderer proves anything, it’s that the genre has room for growth in terms of popularity.
If you’ve never played a title from the Mystery Dungeon lineup, then be prepared for a sense of traditionalism. Players are tasked to explore a dungeon that is randomly generated. Upon exploring, players encounter enemies that they’ll fight within a turn-based system and are only allowed to escape the dungeons if they find the exit, or through use of a particular item.
These ruffians ain’t got nothing on Koppa!
Usually, the Mystery Dungeon series employs a feature that if players or any of their comrades die in battle, they’ll either A: lose all of their money plus half their items or B: lose everything. What Shiren the Wanderer puts forth for its Easy Mode is a friendly concept that the player loses nothing and is sent back to the top menu. On Normal Mode, the player loses all items but remains that the same level when they return to the dungeon. This may turn off a few fans of the series, but for the most part, it wasn’t anything worthy to gripe about as the title is flat out delightful.
Wanderers follow a strict code and we’ll be judging the game on this code:
One – A Wanderer should roam free.
Two – A Wanderer should have pride.
Three – Wanderers should be able to stand on their own.
Four – A Wanderer should follow their dreams.
Five – A Wanderer should always help the weak.
First off, how much free roaming does Shiren the Wanderer permit? The answer: quite a bit. Players are able to talk to every citizen found within villages and towns to extract as much information as they can on the whereabouts of Karakuri Mansion, among other things. Shiren and his band of merry followers are looking for the mansion and the treasures it beholds. Along the way, players are able to freely change out and buy new weapons. When in combat, players are allowed to change control of their characters. Open to developing tactics on the field and within the dungeons, Shiren the Wanderer passes its first mark with flying colors.
Don’t let the innocent eyes of Koppa fool you; he’s a wise-cracking ferret that holds nothing back.
Secondly, ChunSoft, the developer behind Shiren the Wanderer, should have a lot of pride with the amount of humor they were able to implement into the story and dialogue. Koppa, Shiren’s ferret pal, is an absolute gem as the joker character. Delivering lines such as: “Didn’t your mother raise you with any compassion?” and “What? You want trouble? We take out punks like you with the trash!” Koppa is one of the highlights of Shiren the Wanderer.
To stand on its own, Shiren the Wanderer must be able to differentiate itself from similar titles on the Nintendo Wii. Luckily for Atlus, Shiren the Wanderer only has to contend with Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon and Pokemon Mystery Dungeon on the WiiWare. When compared to other Mystery Dungeon titles on the Wii, Shiren the Wanderer is a godsend – the boss fights are entertaining, the dungeons are full of surprises, and the characters are downright fascinating.
It’s not quantity that matters, it’s the quality.
If we were to judge Shiren the Wanderer on if it was able to follow “its dreams” it would have to revolve around the graphical output and unique enemy variants. From the first boss, the Sword Tiger, which is a combination of a lion, tiger and a bear, to any one of the Four Guardians of Hourai Mountain, Shiren the Wanderer has diversity in droves. Fighting a giant catfish, a stoic eagle, a cocky centipede and mixing it up with the legendary Tengu, Shiren continued to deliver memorable moments from the narrative perspective.
Lastly, Shiren the Wanderer gives novice players the chance to grasp a hold of the concepts of the series with simple 1 Action = 1 Turn combat system. If players are overwhelmed, they are able to regain their HP by walking away from the action, although it increases the hunger of the team. Players must eat riceballs, meat or herbs to keep their hunger low so they can continue forth through the dungeons. On top of that, players constantly receive new items to equip their characters with and are able to fuse them by using a Melding Jar, which provides stronger items to use. In the end, newcomers should have an easy time picking up and understanding the general basics of Shiren the Wanderer.
Passing its own code to live by, Shiren the Wanderer is a joy to play.
There replay value of Shiren the Wanderer is sky high. Having spent more than 30+ hours already, there’s so much left to be done to satisfy my tastes.
While the artwork is stunningly beautiful, the graphics leave a lot to be desired.
The soundtrack and effects do their job at accurately portraying the setting.
For a genre that doesn’t see many releases, Shiren the Wanderer certainly fills a void.
With its wit and charm, there’s nothing else like Shiren the Wanderer. It’s one-of-a-kind and praiseworthy.