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Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer

不思議のダンジョン2 風来のシレン

Developer / Publisher: Chunsoft
01 December 1995
Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer [不思議のダンジョン2 風来のシレン] - cover art
Glitchwave rating
3.63 / 5.0
0.5
5.0
 
 
22 Ratings / 1 Reviews
#3,736 All-time
#39 for 1995
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Releases 4
1995 Chunsoft  
Cartridge
JP 4 932345 952040 SHVC-AAXJ-JPN
2008 Chunsoft Sega  
Game card
GB 5 060138 437098 NTR-AFUP-UKV
Show all 4 releases
2008 Chunsoft Sega  
Game card
XNA 0 10086 67016 5 NTR-AFUE-USA
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Title
Before critics and internet sleuths attempted to define the terms of WRPG, JRPG and Roguelike, Shiren the Wanderer blurred the lines between all three in '95.

Although recent indie hits The Binding of Isaac and Spelunky give a more familiar comparison for Shiren's unique structure, they also may dissuade a potential audience who are not fans of those games' lack of story and world-building. Shiren the Wanderer embraces traits of WRPGs and JRPGs equally: It's as much about choosing your approach to combat as it is about exploring a linear path into an unforgivably brutal and addictive, albeit randomly generated, dungeon.

At the outset, it's hard to tell what elements of the game are randomly generated and which are made consistent by Chunsoft (developer of Dragon Quest [ドラゴンクエスト] I - V). You may wonder if the woman who blinds you with a kiss in the woods will always be there or if you will always be given a sword and shield within the first floor. Discovering which elements are consistent between playthroughs and which build upon previous playthroughs gives Shiren an element of surprise and mystery. It's random in the places where it matters (loot, enemies, level layouts), while giving enough room to experience the epic journey you want from a JRPG -- it's in this respect that a direct comparison to Isaac and Spelunky is unfitting and explains why I love Shiren even though I'm not a big fan of the other two.

I never thought I'd give a Mystery Dungeon game a try because I've never played JRPGs for combat alone, but I never knew one could be as fast, frantic and fun as Shiren. The ingenious decision to make combat rely on direct button presses, beyond the use of items, makes Shiren feel like an action game. This is vital since the game is closer to action games in its structure of starting anew, with no items and progress, after losing. Even though I was going through the same themed levels, I always enjoyed playing the game: conserving items I knew would serve me well later, hoping for good luck, and intelligently clearing areas.

While the DS port -- the only US release of the title -- added more enemies, this is just one of many reasons it is inferior to the Super Famicom original. Shiren is almost on the level of Doom in terms of genius balance and monster design. Every monster is unique and changes the situation of a room entirely. Soldiers will spawn a specter upon defeat who can possess and level-up another enemy on the map. This can be good if you want XP or it can lead to inevitable death if they had previously leveled-up; now so strong they can one-shot you and end a run. Some enemies will destroy items on the map, others will attack you from afar, and many will give you nasty status ailments. Learning how to intelligently deal with these enemies and how to plan ahead for every foreseeable outcome is where the skill and addiction of Shiren lies.

Comparing Shiren to Dark Souls is hard for me to ignore as a fan of both and nowhere is the comparison more true than aesthetics and design philosophy. Like Dark Souls, Shiren relies on sound and visuals to create a foreboding atmosphere that builds and settles, only to build again even worse until you are in constant dread of every new room and enemy. When I reached the village above the woods, I wanted to stay there forever and enjoy its calming atmosphere. When I was in the swamp, the ambiance of the monsters and insects made the experience of avoiding deadly creatures all the more unsettling. Few Super Famicom games feature atmosphere as convincing and confident as Shiren the Wanderer. Unlike Dark Souls, the interactions with the townspeople provide some big and much-needed laughs.

For as much anguish and stress Shiren can make me feel at times, it's always a joy to play. Its remarkable balance (I never felt I lost entirely to bad luck, beyond the first floor which can be a crap shoot) and addictive combat sparked an obsession in both this game and its series. Though none I played compare to the original Shiren the Wanderer (including its direct sequels), they are all fine games that standout from other role-playing games. There are more accessible and more complex games inspired by Rogue, but none charming, compelling and enjoyable as Shiren the Wanderer.
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SUPER_Lonely_Panda 2016-04-04T00:01:37Z
2016-04-04T00:01:37Z
4.5
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A note on ports: I recommend the SFC original over the DS update for many reasons, including the aforementioned additional enemies that are either redundant or annoying.

Though the UI and controls are improved in subtle ways, the balancing of the entire game makes it a far inferior port. Chunsoft made an odd design decision in allowing players to revisit previous dungeon floors, making grinding possible -- something that was neither encouraged nor possible for long in the original due to the hunger meter draining. This would be fine and ignorable if it weren't for the lack of enemies on dungeons floors. Where I would be Level 3 on Floor 2 in the original, I would be Level 2 in the DS port. This problem exponentially grows as you continue, thus requiring backtracking previous areas for necessary levels. This decision throws away the masterful balance of the original and increases the frustration of the hunger meter and grinding that was only minor in the original. It's not an awful port, but it fails to match the quality of the original, despite having its own unique improvements.

If you have access to an emulator, the SFC original has an excellent fan translation. I recommend going with that and purchasing the DS version to show support and experience any changes you are curious about at a later date
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Title
Before critics and internet sleuths attempted to define the terms of WRPG, JRPG and Roguelike, Shiren the Wanderer blurred the lines between all three in '95.

Although recent indie hits The Binding of Isaac and Spelunky give a more familiar comparison for Shiren's unique structure, they also may dissuade a potential audience who are not fans of those games' lack of story and world-building. Shiren the Wanderer embraces traits of WRPGs and JRPGs equally: It's as much about choosing your approach to combat as it is about exploring a linear path into an unforgivably brutal and addictive, albeit randomly generated, dungeon.

At the outset, it's hard to tell what elements of the game are randomly generated and which are made consistent by Chunsoft (developer of Dragon Quest [ドラゴンクエスト] I - V). You may wonder if the woman who blinds you with a kiss in the woods will always be there or if you will always be given a sword and shield within the first floor. Discovering which elements are consistent between playthroughs and which build upon previous playthroughs gives Shiren an element of surprise and mystery. It's random in the places where it matters (loot, enemies, level layouts), while giving enough room to experience the epic journey you want from a JRPG -- it's in this respect that a direct comparison to Isaac and Spelunky is unfitting and explains why I love Shiren even though I'm not a big fan of the other two.

I never thought I'd give a Mystery Dungeon game a try because I've never played JRPGs for combat alone, but I never knew one could be as fast, frantic and fun as Shiren. The ingenious decision to make combat rely on direct button presses, beyond the use of items, makes Shiren feel like an action game. This is vital since the game is closer to action games in its structure of starting anew, with no items and progress, after losing. Even though I was going through the same themed levels, I always enjoyed playing the game: conserving items I knew would serve me well later, hoping for good luck, and intelligently clearing areas.

While the DS port -- the only US release of the title -- added more enemies, this is just one of many reasons it is inferior to the Super Famicom original. Shiren is almost on the level of Doom in terms of genius balance and monster design. Every monster is unique and changes the situation of a room entirely. Soldiers will spawn a specter upon defeat who can possess and level-up another enemy on the map. This can be good if you want XP or it can lead to inevitable death if they had previously leveled-up; now so strong they can one-shot you and end a run. Some enemies will destroy items on the map, others will attack you from afar, and many will give you nasty status ailments. Learning how to intelligently deal with these enemies and how to plan ahead for every foreseeable outcome is where the skill and addiction of Shiren lies.

Comparing Shiren to Dark Souls is hard for me to ignore as a fan of both and nowhere is the comparison more true than aesthetics and design philosophy. Like Dark Souls, Shiren relies on sound and visuals to create a foreboding atmosphere that builds and settles, only to build again even worse until you are in constant dread of every new room and enemy. When I reached the village above the woods, I wanted to stay there forever and enjoy its calming atmosphere. When I was in the swamp, the ambiance of the monsters and insects made the experience of avoiding deadly creatures all the more unsettling. Few Super Famicom games feature atmosphere as convincing and confident as Shiren the Wanderer. Unlike Dark Souls, the interactions with the townspeople provide some big and much-needed laughs.

For as much anguish and stress Shiren can make me feel at times, it's always a joy to play. Its remarkable balance (I never felt I lost entirely to bad luck, beyond the first floor which can be a crap shoot) and addictive combat sparked an obsession in both this game and its series. Though none I played compare to the original Shiren the Wanderer (including its direct sequels), they are all fine games that standout from other role-playing games. There are more accessible and more complex games inspired by Rogue, but none charming, compelling and enjoyable as Shiren the Wanderer.
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A note on ports: I recommend the SFC original over the DS update for many reasons, including the aforementioned additional enemies that are either redundant or annoying.

Though the UI and controls are improved in subtle ways, the balancing of the entire game makes it a far inferior port. Chunsoft made an odd design decision in allowing players to revisit previous dungeon floors, making grinding possible -- something that was neither encouraged nor possible for long in the original due to the hunger meter draining. This would be fine and ignorable if it weren't for the lack of enemies on dungeons floors. Where I would be Level 3 on Floor 2 in the original, I would be Level 2 in the DS port. This problem exponentially grows as you continue, thus requiring backtracking previous areas for necessary levels. This decision throws away the masterful balance of the original and increases the frustration of the hunger meter and grinding that was only minor in the original. It's not an awful port, but it fails to match the quality of the original, despite having its own unique improvements.

If you have access to an emulator, the SFC original has an excellent fan translation. I recommend going with that and purchasing the DS version to show support and experience any changes you are curious about at a later date
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Catalog

FilletHam 不思議のダンジョン2 風来のシレン 2022-08-21T06:03:56Z
2022-08-21T06:03:56Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Margaritea 不思議のダンジョン2 風来のシレン 2022-08-09T11:19:57Z
2022-08-09T11:19:57Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
MentalMsuic 不思議のダンジョン2 風来のシレン 2022-07-06T12:42:22Z
2022-07-06T12:42:22Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
tdstr Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer 2022-07-02T11:57:25Z
DS • XNA
2022-07-02T11:57:25Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
kringelorde 不思議のダンジョン2 風来のシレン 2022-05-31T16:23:12Z
2022-05-31T16:23:12Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
i3r3r 不思議のダンジョン2 風来のシレン 2022-05-28T18:23:02Z
2022-05-28T18:23:02Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Anatomized 不思議のダンジョン2 風来のシレン 2022-05-25T19:21:15Z
2022-05-25T19:21:15Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
chumlum 不思議のダンジョン2 風来のシレン 2022-05-05T11:33:47Z
SNES • JP
2022-05-05T11:33:47Z
2.5+
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
basicneutron 不思議のダンジョン2 風来のシレン 2022-05-01T16:40:38Z
2022-05-01T16:40:38Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Sanagami 不思議のダンジョン2 風来のシレン 2022-02-01T23:34:05Z
2022-02-01T23:34:05Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
emulate
negipan 不思議のダンジョン2 風来のシレン 2022-01-23T03:49:27Z
2022-01-23T03:49:27Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
dinth Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer 2021-12-31T11:54:00Z
DS • GB
2021-12-31T11:54:00Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Player modes
Single-player
Media
1x Cartridge
Franchises
Also known as
  • Fushigi no Dungeon 2: Fūrai no Shiren
  • Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer
  • View all [2] Hide

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  • TheDavidLol 2021-06-30 06:30:51.54119+00
    This game is way too fucking hard in the later floors, there was no way in hell I was gonna beat this without heavy save stating and RNG abuse.
    reply
    • CKSkies 2021-07-10 23:26:06.88591+00
      hide Flagged by users
      Get good
      This post was flagged by users for potentially violating community rules. It will be reviewed by a community moderator soon.
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