Blame Shiren the Wanderer's old-school presentation and difficulty for its inconsistent scores -- some critics were able to overlook Shiren's frustrations in favor of its refined mechanics while others found the roguelike remake much too challenging and full of anachronistic elements.
1UP -- 83% (B+): Though Jeremy Parish saw Shiren as a humbling experience, he praised its rewarding depth: "The secret of victory in Shiren isn't brute force but rather a deep understanding of the game's possibilities ... The amount of depth to be extracted from the interaction possible among tools, foes, and random factors makes for one of the deepest portable RPGs you'll ever play."
IGN -- 65%: IGN seems to miss the point of the game's randomized dungeons among other features: "Far too often the dungeon's exit would appear in the same room we started, thus negating any need to explore that floor, unless we wanted some items that may or may not be there. It doesn't seem like it'd be hard to program the exit to not be in the room Shiren starts in ..." This is intentional, forcing adventurers to choose whether advancing to the next floor without risk is worth skipping potential treasures and experience points.
GameSpy -- 70%: GameSpy recognizes the roguelike's appeal while simultaneously noting the harsh limit of that appeal: "Shiren the Wanderer offers a lot of quality gameplay to a very small audience. What it does, it does very well. We're sure there's a small audience that will adore the game. We're also sure the majority of today's gamers will find it nasty, plodding, and archaic."
Our opinion of Shiren the Wanderer? Let's just say that we've barely put any hours into Super Smash Bros Brawl because of our quest to reach the Lair of the Golden Condor.