Nightmare of Druaga: Fushigino Dungeon - Review  

Knight in Shining Armor
by Derek 'Roku' Cavin

20-50 hours


Rating definitions 

   After defeating the feared master of the Tower of Druaga, the hero Gil prepares to marry his love, Lady Ki. Unfortunately for him, a mysterious sorceress appears and whisks Lady Ki away. Nightmare of Druaga: Fushigino Dungeon is an oldschool RPG based on the classic Tower of Druaga. The game is a simple dungeon crawler consisting of several dungeons and a small town that Gil can use as a base of operations. Though he has quite a bit of assistance in town, Gil has only his shining armor and Ishtar's protection to aid his quest in dungeons.

   Gil gives off a faint light as he travels through dungeons that allows him to see traps, items, and enemies. As time passes, this light grows dim and he is forced to either feel his way around in the darkness or offer one of his items to Ishtar in order to renew the protective light. Dungeons are treated as one large battlefield, and every move Gil makes counts as a turn. Each floor of the dungeon is broken up into a grid where tactical battles take place. While this setup could be interesting, Gil has only a very limited supply of weapon types, spells, and skills at his disposal. As the average enemy can be defeated with a mere strike or two from Gil's blade, most of the adventure involves mindlessly killing anything that gets in his way as he searches for keys and doorways, with little need for actual tactics. Boss battles, on the other hand, are all fairly interesting, but they are too few and very far between.

   Though battles themselves may be somewhat dull, players can customize Gil to a small degree to keep themselves entertained. Most pieces of equipment have slots in them that can be filled with the gems the hero needs to use magic. The effects of these gems vary only slightly, but they can be used to fit Gil's statistics to the player's liking. Most equipment also comes with one or more inherent skills that can be transferred if the donor item is of a high enough level. Though this is expensive, players can imbue their favorite equipment with hand-picked skills.

Fighting a weak monster Fighting a weak monster

   It is surprisingly expensive to add skills or even a +1 to a piece of equipment, but most normal enemies can still be defeated with little damage to the player. Most bosses can also be defeated quite easily if Gil has a few healing potions left in his inventory. The only time players are likely to encounter any real difficulty is when they bump into a rare overpowered or invincible monster that wanders the dark halls. Though the overpowered monsters can be defeated, some of them border on the final boss's level of power and should be avoided unless the player is extremely confident. These rare encounters elevate the difficulty of an otherwise easy game.

   Though the number of skills the player can have at one time is rather limited, the designers were kind enough to include a shortcut menu for both skills and items. It takes little effort to sort Gil's inventory or expand a piece of equipment to see which gems are equipped. The interface does have its problems though. There is a button that can be pressed to speed through turns. While this could have been a very useful tool, turns fly by far too quickly when it is pressed. Holding it down for a second or two will generally result in an enemy sneaking up and getting a free hit or two in. If the button is even lightly tapped by accident in the middle of battle, players will likely receive excessive damage. Though the game spends a lot of time auto-saving after every room Gil walks into, the game will have a fit if the player turns the game off without saving in a very specific way. Upon loading the save file again, players will be forced to sit through a ridiculous amount of lecturing and yes/no questions to discourage a repeat of the offense. The localization, like the interface, is also fairly average. There is little dialogue and nothing particularly good or bad really stands out.

   Aside from the punishment players receive if they accidently turn the game off incorrectly, there isn't anything remotely original about Nightmare of Druaga. It is an oldschool dungeon crawler and makes no attempt to be anything else.

   Despite the fact that most of the characters come directly out of the original, few of them are developed further even though the story is a continuation of Tower of Druaga's. The plot itself is also fairly weak and advances very slowly. Despite its shortcomings, the story is still better than nothing and a welcome addition to dungeons that would be otherwise meaningless.

It's as exciting as it looks It's as exciting as it looks

   Though there is little story, the game is still surprisingly long due to the lengthy dungeons. Players will journey through over one hundred floors throughout the game. Doing the bare minimum will take roughly twenty hours, but there are a number of randomly generated bonus rooms, several quests, and even an entire bonus dungeon, should the player wish to complete them. All of these extras can keep players busy for at least another thirty or so hours.

   There are several dungeon tracks to keep the player company during the lengthy playtime, but they become repetitive after a few dozen floors. A second set of tracks and some new sound effects thankfully appear approximately halfway through the game, but they too become stale by the end. As none of the background music was especially impressive to begin with, the music as a whole is below average. The few sound effects found throughout the games also become slightly annoying by the end.

   Like the background music, the visuals aren't particularly impressive. Character and enemy models are detailed, but don't particularly stand out when compared to other games that came out at the same time. Enemies receive several palette swaps throughout the game as well. This isn't to say that the visuals have been neglected, as every piece of equipment Gil equips changes his outward appearance and there is even an FMV. As a result of these extra gestures, visuals as a whole are average.

   Nightmare of Druaga isn't original, but it isn't attempting to be. It is very forward with its classification and doesn't try to impress players with fancy graphics or music. Sadly, it doesn't throw in an interesting battle system or story to keep things very entertaining, either. As a result, this is the kind of game that essentially only oldschool dungeon crawler fans are likely to enjoy, but there are better dungeon crawlers out there to choose from.

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