Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate (Nintendo Switch) Review

By James Grech 30.11.2020 3

Review for Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate on Nintendo Switch

Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate, though a mouthful to say, has a simple premise. Silent protagonist Shiren and his exposition heavy sidekick, Koppa the talking ferret, walk into town and stumble upon a dying girl and her friend desperate to save her. Shiren and Koppa agree to help the boy, and the trio journey to collect the Dice of Fate and conquer the Tower of Fortune in hopes to alter destiny. Thin plot aside, developer and publisher Spike Chunsoft has ported this ten-year-old game cleanly onto the Nintendo Switch. As delightful as that may be for series fans, newcomers need to know that this port feels like a ten-year-old game.

This title in the Shiren the Wanderer series first launched on the Nintendo DS as a Japan exclusive
way back in 2010. The dungeon crawler roguelike was later westernised and released on the PlayStation Vita in 2016. Cubed3's Eric Ace had this to say when he reviewed this first port.

"Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate sticks to the roots of the
roguelike genre completely. It is no-nonsense, and gets to the action right away, and, from managing
the depleting health, the random floors, and ever present death wipe-out, fans will feel right at home."

This is still all true for the 2020 port as the core game hasn't changed at all from the 2016 release. Players still explore randomly generated dungeons while trying to avoid getting knocked out and losing all their hard-earned gear. The same 16-bit art style, the same mystery dungeon gameplay, the same 'one wrong move and it's all over' difficulty.

Screenshot for Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate on Nintendo Switch

That's not to say that this port hasn't received additional content. Fans can listen through the soundtrack at their leisure through the 'Music Collection' library. The 'Wanderer Rescue' system has been upgraded to connect online and now includes global leaderboards. A new 'Live Display' setting implements optional UI displays designed specifically for streamers. Finally, Spike Chunsoft has included bonus post game dungeons that are incredibly challenging for even the most seasoned of wanderers. Anyone who is a fan of this series will be happy to know that this port is the best way to play this title.

If however, there is no nostalgia for this series, new players of Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate may find it to be an outdated dungeon crawler that is tedious, unrewarding and ugly. After finishing a long and dull tutorial dungeon and receiving text box after text box of exposition, the game just starts with no direction. Sure, there are NPC's to talk to, but most are repetitive and speak with little substance due to the games poor writing and choppy localisation. When Shiren finally gets into a dungeon, players may recognise the turn-based mystery dungeon gameplay from the very similar Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series. Where those games are charming, well written and rewarding, Shiren the Wanderer opts to make its players struggle to get through even the earliest of levels.

Screenshot for Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate on Nintendo Switch

In true roguelike fashion, Shiren loses all equipment, money, and experience when he is knocked out. Shiren does have opportunities to store money and gear for later use, but whenever Shiren loses, which is often, there is nothing gained. No upgrades, no unlockables, nothing. Players must instead take on the 'learn from your mistakes' approach rather than a 'get stronger as you go' playstyle. That's to be expected from a true roguelike such as this one, but the fact that each dungeon is randomly generated, and difficulty spikes are unpredictable, it can become heartbreakingly difficult to progress forward. All this is not to say that this game isn't good, but rather it is clearly designed for a very niche player base.

Climbing though towers and diving through dungeons has some great gameplay elements. Enemies are creatively designed, spells and loot are plentiful and it's always cool to see new weapons actually show up on Shiren when they are equipped. Occasionally Shiren runs into a shopkeeper or blacksmith that can get Shiren new or upgraded equipment. These touches are all great for moment to moment action but getting to the end of a dungeon rarely does anything impactful to move the story or its characters into an interesting direction.

Screenshot for Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate on Nintendo Switch

Luckily for players that do not care at all for the story, the gameplay is still fun… until it becomes
unfair. Even when Shiren is as prepared as possible with his limited inventory slots, the game may
just decide to spawn a trap that launches Shiren into a room where he is completely surrounded by
overpowered monsters. It can be really deflating.

Masochists that enjoy losing everything and starting from scratch whenever they get knocked out
have a lot to love. Unless this is enough to get new players onboard for Shiren's adventures, there
isn't anything else worthwhile here. Incredibly mediocre localisation, outdated and sometimes ugly
character art, side quests that are poorly designed and a UI display that screams afterthought all
hold this game back from it reaching a modern audience.

Screenshot for Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate does an incredible job at showing where the roguelike genre started. Fans of this series and its 'all or nothing' gameplay will adore this port and all its new content. However, players new to this genre or this series will find very little good here. There has been no effort to reach out to a wider audience or bring this game forward to a level of modern quality. Although it is still the Shiren the Wanderer that fans know and
love, it is more than obvious that this is a game stuck in time.

Developer

Spike Chunsoft

Publisher

Spike Chunsoft

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date 02.12.2020   North America release date 02.12.2020   Japan release date 02.12.2020   Australian release date 02.12.2020   

Comments

Wow, such a shame! I thought more might have been done to update things, whilst keeping true to the original. I'm sure the long-term faithful will, as you say, love it to bits... but the wider Switch audience might find it hard to stomach.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses
Luke (guest) 04.12.2020#2

Next time please don't have someone who isn't good at roguelikes review a roguelike.

The game is never "unfair" and being dropped in a monster room is nothing to an experienced player. Escape scroll, revive grass, undo grass, confusion scroll, vacuum slash, fear scroll, slumber scroll, fixer scroll, clone staff... there are tons of ways to get out of a sticky situation.

You have to learn the mechanics to appreciate just how deep this game is.

I don't want to make a Souls-like comment of "git gud" but seriously giving a game with this beautiful a depth of mechanics a 5/10 is absolutely shameful.

Complaining it doesn't have the narrative or difficulty of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon is like complaining that New Super Mario Bros doesn't have the narrative or difficulty of Yoshi's Crafted World.

This isn't where "Roguelike" started. It's one of the best Roguelikes in existence when compared to other Roguelikes, not RogueLITEs like Hades and Binding of Isaac and Spelunky.

I rate your review 2/10 for low effort.

Mojo (guest) 02.03.2021#3

I am good at Roguelikes, I have yet to die in this game, but I still mostly agree with this review.

As a huge fan of Shiren on DS I was very disappointed with this title. It is just absolutely butt ugly and the criticisms of the UI are spot on. The world design has also lost the wonderful sense of progression and adventured that Shiren on DS had. You no longer feel like you're going on a journey across a world, instead you walk through a few screens of forest and then land in some of the most garish and ugly towers I've ever seen. Get used to abstract purple rooms of... stuff? What even is this crap?

There's still the core gameplay there so if that's enough to carry you great, but as someone who loved the more holistic experience of Shiren The Wanderer on DS this game landed with a big wet thud. 

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