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2008's Biggest Blips: Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer

Developer: Chunsoft
Publisher: Sega
Release: March 4

If you're going to check out a roguelike, you might as well try the best dungeon crawl Japan has to offer -- Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer. Unfortunately, most will find themselves turned off by its intense difficulty, SNES-level graphics, and turn-based battles/movement. It's a game with a very special appeal -- you won't survive Shiren the Wanderer's monsters and hazards by grinding or mashing an attack button; you'll have to rely on your wits and use your limited equipment to their best advantage. It's a rewarding experience, to say the least.

Oh, and did we mention that the game is insanely hard? What's worse, unless you've got an online buddy to revive you, every time you die (and you'll die very often), you lose all of your items and equipment, starting over at the beginning town at Level 1. Beginners usually die dozens of times before picking up the rudimentary skills needed to survive the dungeons. To help you in your journey, we've cleared up four mysteries for you, so you won't have to sacrifice a playthrough to figure them out yourself!

Mystery #1: How do I approach arrow-shooting enemies without having my face rocked off?

Don't attack arrow shooters head-on! You'll want to creep up to them with zig-zag movements, keeping yourself out of their direct line of sight. Unfortunately, this strategy won't work against other ranged attackers like rock throwers and magic users.

Mystery #2: What the hell is this dancing polygon monster?

That affable-looking polygon figure might not look so dangerous, but he has the power to reduce your Hunger meter by 30% (Hunger meter decreases 1% for every 10 moves), just by dancing his jig right next to you! Once that meter hits 0%, you'll lose 1 HP every turn until you find something to fill your belly with. Don't let yourself get served by this guy!

Mystery #3: Why are sleep scrolls so dangerous?

While having a Sleep scroll might come in handy when you've got monsters surrounding you, what that piece of parchment doesn't tell you is that once your enemies wake up from their nap, they'll move around with double speed. Make sure you don't dally around!

Mystery #4: Why should I let a monster puke on me?

We're not sure yet if they've been renamed in this remake, but the original Shiren the Wanderer had Nigiri beasts that would throw up on you, somehow transforming items in your inventory into rice balls. Very useful in case you run into some Polygon Jives later on! Just make sure you don't have anything you'd rather not lose in your inventory.

Really, one of the greatest features of Shiren the Wanderer is its unique monsters! Far from generic characters, every one of them seems to have an interesting special ability or idiosyncrasy. Like puking on you.

Jake Hunter Back You spoony bard!

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