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Double Dungeons
Platform: Wii Virtual Console (originally TurboGrafX)
Publisher: NCS
Developer: NCS
Genre: Traditional RPG
Format: Download
Released: US 03/12/07
Japan 03/06/07



Scorecard
Graphics: 70%
Sound: 70%
Gameplay: 40%
Control: 90%
Story: 20%
Overall: 50%
Reviews Grading Scale
 
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The opening screen looks like this.
 
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The rest of the game looks like this.
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Dennis Rubinshteyn
Double Dungeons
12/10/07
Dennis Rubinshteyn

It has not been long since the Nintendo Wii was released along with its Virtual Console service. For a while, VC thrived in bringing games for certain genres such as space shooters and platformers. On the other hand, there was a lack of other genres such as RPGs. The RPGs we first got were weak choices, though the situation has begun to improve. Double Dungeons for the TurboGrafX is an example of a poor RPG we got early on in the VC's lifespan.

The objective is to go through a complex maze (a.k.a. "the dungeon") in order to get to the end and fight the boss. The only way to enter the boss room is to find a special key somewhere in the dungeon. There are 22 dungeons in the game, and all but one dungeon is accessible at any time. The dungeons are categorized by colors to indicate difficulty with the only changes between difficulties is the size of a dungeon and number and types of enemies present. In order to unlock the final dungeon, you have to beat 21 other dungeons to receive a letter or number to input a 21-code password.

The gameplay is very simple, but completely lacks depth: especially with fights. Never before had I played an RPG with such shallow combat. Fights occur in a turn-based style where you confront an enemy and press a button until you or the enemy dies. That's it. There is absolutely no strategy in fights, even in boss fights, unless you count using items when appropriate as strategic. You can move backwards to escape a fight, and you will never be chased since enemies are in a fixed position. Defeated enemies can randomly respawn in the exact spot. Along with getting exp, you also get gold. Within the dungeon, there is a shop you can buy equipment and items from and an inn to fully recover.

The game is tough, but I felt its difficulty exists for the wrong reasons. With no strategy during fights, you have to grind and get the best gear available to have any chance of success. While I generally tend to go through "the grind" in other RPGs, I usually don't have to if I play smart against an enemy or boss. Not so in Double Dungeons.

The placement of enemies can lead to annoyance. Weak enemies can be close to tough ones, and you have no way of knowing before fighting them. You may end up fighting a monster that can kill you in one hit, resulting in you starting from the beginning and losing all gold. There is no in-game map present, and it is annoying because everything looks the same, and the dungeons get increasingly larger. You can get lost extremely easy, even if you draw your own map or use a walkthrough. Getting lost in a dungeon could be considered an immersive part of the experience, if only there was some variety in design or things to discover aside from a few chests. Again, this potential for redemptive qualities is not met in Double Dungeons.

It is also annoying how password heavy the game gets; it makes me thankful that the Wii has a suspend feature. Aside from the password to unlock the final dungeon, if you want to resume where you left off, you have to input a 24-code password which is not only long, but scrolling through the letters and numbers is slow. To add further annoyance, the passwords are case sensitive. The TG16 is capable of saving so it is unnecessary to have passwords in the first place. At least you don't have to go through this in the Virtual Console port.

There is a two player co-op mode (hence the name of the game). Basically, you and your friend start off at different parts of the dungeon, enabling you two to cover more ground. It can be nice not having to be alone when going through a massive dungeon, but it does not change the fact that the game is shallow.

This will come as no surprise: there isn't really a plot. Since you can go to a dungeon in any order, they're all mini stories. Each dungeon has a story told in a "prologue." These prologues tell you the reason for going through a dungeon such as doing an errand for your king or to defeat a foe. The only other dialogue that occurs is in the "epilogue," reflecting briefly on your accomplishment. It's a good way of telling you why you go to these dungeons, but they have zero entertainment value.

The graphics and music are the game's best features, but that's not saying much. The graphics are crisp and colorful, and while they're not animated, there are a lot of monster designs to see. There are also the NPCs in the shop and inn, but they're the same in every dungeon. As mentioned earlier, all dungeons look exactly the same, which I believe to be the game's greatest graphical flaw. Staring at nothing but gray walls and red floors for hours gets old. The music is pretty good, but there are only four songs total, and they get old after a while. It doesn't help that the songs loop frequently, especially the opening title.

It is not the worst RPG I've ever played, but it's a lame game. It may be fun for those who like to get lost in a dungeon for hours, and there is a challenge factor (albeit a misguided construct), but there are much better RPGs to play. The dungeons are all the same, the combat is shallow, and it lacked satisfaction when completing a dungeon. It may be only 600 points, but I recommend you spend your points on a more worthy game.



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