Shiren the Wanderer
Platform: Wii
Publisher: Atlus
Developer: ChunSoft
Genre: Action RPG
Format: Wii Optical Disc
Release: US 02/09/10
Japan 06/05/08

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Asuka knows how to take care of business.
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Wait, are you sure this takes place in Japan? Sounds like Greek mythology to me...
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Well, Mr. Centipede, you apparently didn't take your old age into account before choosing to fight me.
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We're convinced that the ferret is the true hero of this tale.
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Patrick Gann
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Patrick Gann

Atlus has pumped out some serious Rogue-like RPGs in the past few years; two Izuna titles and Baroque, to be exact. For these games, and potentially for Shiren the Wanderer, many gamers have expressed themselves as follows: "Well, that looks like a cool game, but I don't like Rogue-like RPGs. They're all the same."

With that in mind, let me introduce you to ChunSoft's very first "Rogue-lite."

Shiren the Wanderer for Wii, technically Shiren the Wanderer 3 for those following the series, is the latest and greatest from ChunSoft's original IP. It garnered an impressive 35 out of 40 from Famitsu magazine and was praised by the Japanese community for making significant strides of progress compared to older Shiren titles.

To date, only one Shiren title has made it to America: a remake of the original SNES title, released on the DS as "Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer" via Sega. Though I personally enjoyed the DS game, there's no question that people who are fundamentally opposed to Rogue-like RPGs would never be able to enjoy such a "hardcore" title as the original Shiren.

Shiren the Wanderer 3, however, is a new take on a tried-and-true subgenre. So before you write it off as "not your thing," check out the details to this upcoming title.

First and foremost, because I know this is on your mind, "What happens when you die?" Yes, you will lose the items you're carrying with you; anything you keep in a storehouse is safe though. As for leveling, your level penalty cannot lead to a "de-level." Compare that to the full start-over experience with Shiren DS (level 1 restart for every death), and what you get here is true RPG progress. With higher levels comes higher base strength and HP, so you can handle larger and more challenging dungeons.

Speaking of which, the dungeons in Shiren the Wanderer are now accessible via a world map. It is not fully linear; you choose where you want to go, and when you want to go back to town. Also, though the movement and action in dungeons is 1-to-1 grid-based, movement in towns and any non-combative zones is free.

Perhaps most intriguing aspect of Shiren the Wanderer is the AI. There are a variety of automatic settings you can give to Shiren and his partners. Typically, you will want to control one character (usually Shiren, but you have the option to control his teammates and allow Shiren himself to be AI-controlled). During certain areas, such as a tight dungeon room or a boss fight, you'll want to take advantage of the "full control" option. Here, you control everyone in the party (up to three members). They'll each get a turn, and then the enemies on screen will take a turn. Sometimes movement is fast and it feels like real-time action, even though everything is strictly calculated. At other times, you'll feel like you're entrenched in a turn-based strategy RPG. This level of flexibility should appeal to RPG fans of all stripes.

Aesthetically, the game looks and sounds to be one of the best Wii RPGs to date. The traditional Asian influence left a strong impression on me. Whether it's the fantastic score, co-composed by Koichi Sugiyama (Dragon Quest) and Hayato Matsuo, or the beautiful 3D animation is unsurpassed by pretty much any other JRPG for the Wii, I would say that thoughtful and observant gamers are in for quite the audio-visual treat when playing Shiren the Wanderer.

Atlus has Shiren the Wanderer scheduled for a February 9th, 2010 release. We'll follow up with a full review around that time. Until then, know that in place of getting the usual "Atlus spoils" (artbooks, soundtracks, etc.), Atlus is "passing on the savings" by setting this game at an MSRP of $39.99.


© 2008-2010 Atlus, ChunSoft. All rights reserved.

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