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Published on March 24th, 2024 | by Boouya

Shiren the Wanderer: The Mystery Dungeon of Serpentcoil Island Review (Switch)

Shiren the Wanderer: The Mystery Dungeon of Serpentcoil Island Review (Switch) Boouya
Gameplay
Graphics
Audio
Value

Summary: For fans of Rogue-likes Shiren the Wanderer is a perfect game to play for people who have not played this genre before. I would still suggest giving this game a go. The overall gameplay loop is easy to grasp, but it takes time and patience to Master. Some may be put off by the repetitiveness and overall difficulty level which is understandable but I would implore people to keep going.

4

Rogue-like Fun!


Brief History of The series

The Mystery Dungeon games have been a popular franchise in Japan since 1993 with the release of Torneko’s Great Adventure: Mystery Dungeon, which was actually a spinoff of Dragon Quest IV. The character Shiren would appear in the Sequel Mystery Dungeon 2: Shiren the Wanderer in 1995 both releasing on the Super Famicom in Japan. It would not be until 2008 that the West would get its first taste of the series with the rerelease of Mystery Dungeon 2 for Nintendo DS. The West would then have to wait until 2022 and the Nintendo Switch to get that next fix of Shiren. That being said Western fans have been able to enjoy the Crossover Series Pokemon Mystery Dungeon with releases covering the Gameboy Advance all the way through to the Nintendo Switch.

Story

Shiren the Wanderer: Mystery Dungeon of Serpentcoil Island starts with both of the main characters Shiren and his partner Koppa the weasel who can talk of course. Whilst they stop to rest they both have a dream about a secret treasure hidden inside of the Monster on Serpentcoil Island, as they awake the next day they both agree they must go and see if this treasure is real.

The game cuts to Shiren in the final dungeon fighting against the monster, unfortunately he is defeated and blacks out. He awakens in the village with no knowledge of where he is or what happened. Koppa fills him and they are determined to retrace their steps and finally get that treasure.

Gameplay

Shiren the Wanderer follows the style of all Mystery Dungeon games, you enter a series of randomly generated “dungeons” and must acquire equipment, food and weapons to survive whilst you find the exit or the stairs to the next floor. Movement is turn based on a grid which you are able to traverse in all eight directions. You move one square per move as well as you perform an action, be it movement or swinging a weapon or using an item like food the enemies on the map move one square. You are able to press Y and it will make your character face whichever direction the enemy is facing as long as you are in connecting squares, doing this also does not count towards an action so you can face the enemy and attack all before they can do anything to you.
Choosing your next moves are an important part of staying alive and being able to advance to the next floor, if enemies coming at you were hard enough to contend with, hidden throughout the dungeons are traps each with insidious actions. Some hold the ability to keep you stuck whilst also allowing the enemies to advance closer. One that seems to really screw me over was a trap that made all your food rotten making the later levels even more impossible as you know you have a chance of starving and losing your health.

It is not all doom and gloom inside of the dungeons as there are others inside the dungeons who can help, be it traders with items to sell or a wanderer who you can give an item to who will then take it out of the dungeon and store it in the warehouse, so if/when you die you will be able to start your next run with a useful item. I personally handed over either a shield or sword which allowed me to make quicker more efficient progress in the early run.

The game expects you to die with this in mind all items, money and levels are lost and you start from the starter town. Each time you die and reset you have a chance of advancing the story and meeting new characters who eventually you can team up with adding value to keep retrying.

Whilst the overall gameplay loop can be classed as repetitive it does not get stale, mainly because of the nature of dungeon generation and the randomness of item placement, sometimes you can get super lucky and find weapons and a shield early on allowing you to steam a head other times you have nothing and you have to play slower and more cautious.

Graphics and Audio

Shiren the Wanderer: The Mystery Dungeon of Serpentcoil island has moved away from the sprites used in the previous game on Switch and now uses a chibi 3D style similar to Dragon Quest Builders. Whilst I am a fan of sprite based games I found the new style easier on the eyes and the animations more clear.

The Audio in this game is subtle, the music weaves gently and only ramps up when necessary giving an almost relaxing tone to the game. The use of traditional Japanese instruments really matches the overall tone and atmosphere of the game.

Final Thoughts

For fans of Rogue-likes Shiren the Wanderer is a perfect game to play for people who have not played this genre before. I would still suggest giving this game a go. The overall gameplay loop is easy to grasp, but it takes time and patience to Master. Some may be put off by the repetitiveness and overall difficulty level which is understandable but I would implore people to keep going.


About the Author

27 Year old Gamer from the UK. Love Retro gaming and Gaming History



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