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Hands-on: Shiren the Wanderer (Wii)


We read Atlus's late night press release announcing plans to localize Sega's Shiren the Wanderer 3 with utter shock. We had long since resigned ourselves to never seeing the console 3D version of Chunsoft's roguelike, and we were afraid that we had merely dreamed that Atlus had picked it up with plans to release it in 2010. But, sure enough, the game was available for play in Atlus's booth, and we were pleased to have the opportunity to check it out. Full disclosure: we didn't die in our play session, which should give fans of Shiren on the DS a rough idea of how long we were able to play.

Project lead Clayton Chan, outfitted in a Shiren-style hat, walked us through a brief demo through the Japanese release of the game. It's basically Shiren or any other roguelike, which means that it's a totally turn-based experience: monsters move or perform actions only as you do, attacking after you attack, and if you freeze, nothing will happen. Other signature elements are here:huge, multi-level dungeons, random item drops, items that require identification (which could reveal them as super-powerful or even cursed), near-total loss of progress upon death, and, uh, extraordinarily frequent death.

The most noticeable difference between this game and Shiren on DS: nice 3D graphics. Chan described the new "Dragon Orb" system to us, as well: random areas of the dungeon will feature orbs on the ground with the ability to imbue items with status bonuses. Shiren can place the item in front of it as an offering, activate a protection spell, and wait a few turns in order to receive the boosted weapon. If the time elapses without monsters attacking, you'll have a new item.

Our demo, unfortunately, didn't include a Dragon Orb -- we suppose it can be difficult to show off game features at E3 when the appearance of those features is random. Instead, we traversed two floors of a dungeon, killed a few weak monsters, and leveled up a few times. We equipped a wand, unable to read its Japanese description, and inadvertently polymorphed a monster into a much cuter one.

Chan confirmed to us that Atlus planned to keep the original Japanese art for the game, which is a great relief to those afflicted with American copies of Shiren the Wanderer on DS. The new name is expected to stick as well -- just Shiren the Wanderer, no numbers or Mystery Dungeon series name. People interested in Shiren know it's a Mystery Dungeon game anyway. What wasn't known for sure was the state of Shiren 3's online rescue feature and leaderboards, since, as Chan explained, Atlus has limited experience with online games.

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