Well, Shiren the Wanderer 5 just got an English release for the Vita on the US (bless my US PSN account).
This is a Shiren 1 quality game, and given that Shiren 1 was my favorite roguelike (along with ADOM) it makes me happy.
Basically, these are very discrete, pure, Japanese roguelikes-.
Discrete in that interactions are easily predictable and discrete (you mostly know what’s going to happen if you have faced the same situation before. So moment to moment tactics feel very puzzly, while still retaining a surprising strategic depth with resource management, item identification, hunger and other classic roguelike staples.
Pure, because it’s a very classic roguelike (with interface improvements, of course). And I mean it. This stuff is closer to rogue than to any other mainstream roguelike out there. Also, systems are incredible transparent and coherent (again, once you learn them). I beat Shiren’s 1 main dungeon by using an item that would transform any enemy into food on the final boss. It worked and I ate it. It is unusual to find roguelikes that stick so close to system purity without compensating with resistances and other stuff (all this not really present here. Resistances are also discrete and not that huge).
And Japanese because, well, it’s a japanese game. But the aesthetic are rooted in 1995 (it could be reusing SNES sprites for all I know -well, not really but almost-) and there’s none hyper cute or hyper sexualized stuff.
So far (beaten the first, easy dungeon) it feels like Shiren 1 but with more pseudo persistent stuff to do between runs (did I mention Shiren 1’s progression system might be the best progression system in any roguelike, keeping the hard reset on death but allowing you to store certain items for a future run -but you might lose the in that run, so it’s really high reward). So basically expanding on the previous systems, plus a more divided structure, with (I think not that far yet) 4 main dungeons progressively more difficult, plus many challenge and extra dungeons (the real end-game in Shiren game’s being a 100% reset 100 floors optional dungeon).
This is really good stuff. Shiren 3 got the series closer to the Pokemon MD games, but this is (so far) a step back into form (and greatness). I think this might be the best roguelike (imho) to come to the market in years.
Edit: It’s also out on the EU (they didn’t announce release dates, I think, but I was keeping track of the Us version mostly, so maybe it’s lack of attention)
Weeee! I’ll be grabbing this for the old PSTV.
Seems they don’t want me to buy it as I keep getting transaction failures with ‘Missed Charges’ when I try to checkout.
I’ve tried using Visa card and Paypal.
Opus 5 could be my favorite in the series, but unlike you I didn’t enjoy the progression that much, as I felt it was overpowered, but that totally get adressed once you are done with the story/persistent stuff.
Out of curiosity, on the DS, the game didn’t save each turn as it used to in the early cartridge game because of the hardware limitations. Does the Vita have a way around that (after all, if smartphone games found ways to save their progress at all times, why shouldn’t console games be able to!)?
Can you expand on the progression thing? My first run on the first dungeon was a successful one, And I didn’t bring anything into the second dungeon. So I’m liking what I´m seeing but there might be something too powerful down the road.
So far progression seems very similar to Shiren 1, but with more options (and I guess more ways to break the game?), in the sense that it seems it’s purely item based (and thus can be ignored if you so desire). Shiren’t 1 unlocking of the Chef staff was gamechanging, though.
This is a bit fuzzy, as I played the game quite a few years ago, but I remember about half-way through, I was owning multiple crazily upgraded swords (which could be labelled basically as W.M.D.s at that point) and shields, and death was pretty much a non-concern - and even should I lose one, I had already prepped a substitute. I don’t recall precisely the structure of Shiren or Asuka - maybe I was not paying enough attention - but I remember distinctly being crushed, in both of those games, when I was meeting my demise and losing my most potent gear.
I remember now (a bit late!) I was lucky enough to play with another person, and we were rescuing each other when we died - which might have turned the game into easy mode, now that I think about it! It was really fun though, and I have the distinct memory of what might have been my only death in the late story-game, by being asked to rescue my mate who fell on a pretty much inescapable death floor.
Anyway the easy feel of the base game as I experienced it didn’t detract from it, in my opinion, as the “start from nothing” dungeons were where I found my thrill-fix (the Japanese game designers indeed are smart, and they know how to appeal to both crowds - the classical RPG ascension to power fans, and the masochistic lot - and even the unnamed one sitting in the middle of both!).
Ah, I see.
Yes, for me death is death, I’m having none of that multiplayer nonsense :P. i can see how that can bring down a delicate balance into easy territory.
I played a little bit more. First death I had since I bought was on the second dungeon. Next try I cleared in one go the second and third dungeons, and I was certainly thinking everything might be too easy, until I realized the real story dungeons start with the fourth one (or at least that’s when the game starts to get into Shiren -let me reach the stairs and I will ignore the monsters as much as I can- territory). I died in floor 9 (which I’m guessing might be near the top).
Overall I’m loving all the new mechanics. Feels like a very solid game so far!!!
I don’t know how I feel about the main story being an escort quest, though. Certainly makes it even more challenging. But also frustrating when you are out of health items to revive the sucker.
So, I got a little bit further along. I killed the first boss and I am very close to the ending of the main story (I think).
Now I’ve realized it is very different to Shiren 1 in terms of progression. You are indeed forced to use the persistent systems here in order to progress. There’s no way your level can keep up with the enemy levelling in the same dungeon, so getting really good equipment is a must, yet it doesn’t really spawn, but needs to be honed through several playthroughs (and, magically, you are always at risk of losing it if you are not very conservative with tagging your main gear).
I’m really liking it, though. There’s more than enough optional dungeons here to fill a couple hundred hours (and those extra dungeons are all pure roguelike deals with no persistence).
I’d even forgotten about the tagging! I think this was introduced in this game to counter what was considered to be overpowered in Shiren 4: those thieving monsters (which was a sensible decision, since “4” had the focus on training your weapon “5” has, while retaining a lot of Shiren 1, like the monster balance and the smaller scale - which makes sense as I think Shiren 4 was actually only the remake of one of the 2 Gameboy games. Getting your overall game progression ruined by a single dubious monster, probably of monkey pedigree, wasn’t really nice).
I think this is why Shiren 5 is my favorite: it brings together the lighter side - especially with that semi-coop aspect -of what is known now as a “roguelite”, and the darker side of real roguelikes in end-game and post-game contents - and those no-persistence dungeons are all really unique, besides the standard massive one, if memory serves right.
The biggest problem with Shiren 5 so far after a couple of hours - it has a minesweeper mini-game! Not sure I’ll ever make it to playing the proper game! ;)
Lol, yeah, the amount of content seems a little bit too much. The sokoban and minesweeper mini-games are by themselves several hours long. And apparently there are several 99 floors full roguelike dungeons in there.
One great thing about this game is that it’s a really big, deep roguelike (despite the individual system simplicity, there are enough variations, systems and interactions to make it really deep). But instead of focusing on giving us one game with those mechanics, they have thrown in several different game-long dungeons that use the same systems in different permutations and mixes to create really different experiences.
I guess that’s what you get with a non-indie sized team and several designers on board (plus 4 prior games in the series).
Hey, where the heck is Below!?
This is a digital download? Might be a reason to pull my vita out of mothballs.
The shiren that got US release on DS…which one is that in the series? Loved that game
That was a remake of the very first Shiren game from the Super Famicom.
And yeah, I’m excited to pick this up as soon as I have a chance.
Yep, it is…
Got to what I think is the final boss of the main dungeon. Very tense fight, but overall I was unprepared and bit the dust. I need much more long range stuff next time.
My weapons are getting good enough so I can get there consistently, I think (although a monster detection bracelet HELPS. It’s good that they can’t be tagged, or this could be powergamed). However, I need much more than just weapons to face it (I think it’s mostly knockback staffs, hilarious pots and some form of long range attack).
Also, I am supposed to keep my partner alive, which I really don’t see happening any time soon
Yeah, I really did love that game, though I didn’t do all the optional stuff once the campaign ended. I know for many, that’s when the game actually begins, for me, it was fulfilling and a natural stopping point.
Well, this is similar, but longer (the main dungeon, that is). My guess is that you’ll love it too.
Also it has an interesting “night” mechanic that really mixes things up mid-late game.
Juan, thanks for mentioning Shiren. I wasn’t aware that it was out. I immediately bought it on reading your initial post and I am enjoying being back in that world!
I worked on Shiren 1’s English DS release circa 2007 which was my introduction to the series. I was hoping there would be a language option in the settings so I could play in Japanese, but no such luck. :(
So far I’ve been about five levels deep in the first major dungeon, the Dungeon of the Past.
I was doing well until level 5 at which I had a couple scary sequences of events. (You may not want to read until you complete the first dungeon.)
[details=Summary]1) In a room with two creatures, I melee hit one creature I hadn’t seen before, and was immediately put to sleep. That creature and his buddy automatically beat down my main character while I watched in horror unable to respond. Luckily I had revival grass in my inventory so was revived and healed to full.
- I was walking across a large room towards two sleeping creatures and tripped over a “rage” trap which woke up the creatures and sent them towards my team buffed up and angry. I was able to kill one of them as they approached with the panda girl’s boomerang and my own missile weapons, but once the second creature reached my character, he smacked me for about 50 hp of damage, immediately putting me in danger of death. Looking through my inventory I only had warp grass that could really save me. I used that and of course teleported nearly adjacent to another creature without my companions. I then see a message that the enraged creature had leveled up (from killing my one of my companions) and a turn or two later as I’m running away to heal from the new creature, I see he has leveled up again. Things weren’t looking good so I used the escape grass.[/details]
I learned a hard lesson a couple of days ago.
I went through the 7 or so levels of the Tower of the Future, then 7-8 levels of the dungeon after that (where the night mechanic is introduced) in a single adventure, finally using escape grass when I got in over my head. Basically my shield wasn’t cutting it.
After such a long trek my inventory was packed, including 4+ new Preservation Pots, at least two Synthesis Pots to start working on my shield and I was hanging around town feeling good about my chances in the next adventure.
A friend who is also playing logged into PSN and I decided to compare trophies. Whenever my Vita auto powers down for a long while, I was able to resume the game with no issues. This time, because I guess it had to launch a completely different application to compare trophies, when I went back to Shiren it put me at the main menu. I had a sinking feeling, and as I suspected I was fucked.
Because my inventory was cleared out, I took the opportunity to work on the expert level of the Minesweeper minigame (which requires you to have nothing on you). Expert was really hard and it took me a day and a half to beat it. I had to go back to studying Minesweeper strategy I had read in the mid-90s. 1-1-1 patterns, 1-2-2-1 patterns, etc.