A roguish chocobo

So apparently 2008 is destined to be the year of the roguelike; just as the shine is starting to fade around the edges of Shiren the Wanderer (buy it if you haven’t already, kids — it’s supoib, as they say in Stoogeland) and the tykes gear up for Pokémon Mystery Dungeon 2, the most recent entry in Chunsoft’s ongoing mission to make everything all hardcore and turn-based is announced for U.S. release: namely, Chocobo’s Mysterious Dungeon 3. (Or “Chocobo’s Mysterious Dung,” as the front page of 1UP once called it quite by mistake.) I suspect this Chocobo outing will receive more informed and forgiving reviews than its predecessor enjoyed nearly a decade ago.

I’m happy to see the game get a chance in the U.S. — it apparently tanked in Japan — but I’d much rather hear news of Shiren 3 or, dare we dream, Dragon Quest IV for DS. Even so, I won’t complain; especially as this is the first game in ages to forego the usual Square Enix Tax that I’ve been lamenting since playing Dragon Quest Swords and realizing that it was better suited to the $20 price range than $50. Maybe the company is finally realizing that pricing niche games as if they were blockbusters isn’t doing any favors to under-the-radar titles like The World Ends With You! Or, more likely, this was supposed to be a $30 game and they applied the Square Enix Tax to make it $40.

Yeah, that sounds more like it.

Price quibbles aside, it is always a pleasure to see roguelikes make their way over here. Now Atlus just needs to pick up Izuna Ni. And maybe someone can grab Dramatic Dungeon: Sakura Taisen and Dungeon of Windaria. (Or not, given how banal they look.) In the meantime, I’m trying to compile a list of console- and handheld-based roguelikes. Please let me know if I’ve missed any! And don’t bother telling me about PC-based entries; that is an epic undertaking that could easily be someone’s full-time job.

30 thoughts on “A roguish chocobo

  1. I have a horrible confession: I’ve never played Rogue or any Roguelike game, to my knowledge. Unless you count Dark Cloud. I mean, it was quasi-random, but I don’t suppose it was random enough…

    …the point is, I probably shouldn’t be a card-carrying member of any gaming group until I complete one.

  2. Dragon Crystal, which was a pretty simple (though insanely hard) one for the Game Gear. Apparently it was also released for the Master System. I played it for an uncountable number of hours, yet never could beat it. Certain enemies on later floors would just drop your level back down to one… But I still came back, time and time again.

  3. Thanks for the Dragon Crystal heads-up. I’ve never heard of it, but I’ll check it out.

    …but not at the $60 eBay wants for it. Frickin’ EU-only SMS releases!

  4. Did you ever get a chance to return to Super Potato to pick up Shiren 64? (Or anywhere else, for that matter). I saw it and thought about picking it up for ya, but my better judgment took hold and didn’t let go. I’m pretty sure a package from some traveler wouldn’t be received with anything less than incredulity.

  5. Speaking of @play, John Harris wrote up a nice piece looking at ToeJam & Earl as “The Roguelike That’s Not An RPG”. Worth a look. http://xrl.us/bio3t

    I remember playing TJ&E when it first came out and enjoyed it while everyone else hated it. Guess my rougelike tendencies were showing back then too.

  6. Yeah, I picked up Shiren 2. And the Dreamcast spinoff as well. Let me know if you ever find any of the GBA Fushigi No Dungeon games, though.

  7. Playing Shiren reminds me of how I used to stay up well past my bedtime to play Fatal Labyrinth for hours and hours when I was a kid. I don’t even think I liked it very much. I just couldn’t stop.

  8. Yeah, I came across that wiki a while back, and it’s a great resource for PC info. But its lack of comprehensive info about the console iterations is what prompted me to start compiling my own list.

    As for the VC release, I’m just counting that as the SFC game.

  9. I feel like there is an insane amount of games you’ve missed, espically if you are willing to include japan only releases.

    Just some ones to get us started, I’m sure i’ll think of more soon:

    Evolution – Neo Geo Pocket Color
    Chocobo’s Dungeon – Wonder Swan

  10. Hey, I told you in the TT rogue-like thread that there aren’t GBA Shiren games, there’s a GB game and a GBC game. They’re both not ports, but the Shiren games play the same at their core, so they just seem like it. Before CC came out, I was playing a bunch of Shiren GB2, and it’s pretty cool, although whoever decided that complex kanji was okay in a portable game should be shot. :P

  11. Oh yeah, and considering the press Shiren and Baroque have been getting, I doubt Chocobo’s Dungeon will get a fair shake this time, although I imagine it’ll be a far more forgiving experience. I expect better press, but not the press it may deserve.

  12. I would’ve, if I had a) remembered it was a wiki, and b) had login access to said wiki. ;p

  13. Are Time Stalkers and Climax Landers the same game? If not, there’s one you missed.

    I’d also say Lufia 2 deserves honorable mention if nothing else. Sure, it’s a sidequest within a more vanilla RPG, but it’s still a huge random dungeon that resets your level and removes all your stuff when you enter.

  14. I’m pretty sick so forgive me if I’m just not seeing it, but there was a Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team release for the GBA.

  15. I think you need to re-update your previous definition from this article for the wiki: http://www.1up.com/do/feature?cId=3123537. Since it appears .hack is no longer considered a rogue-like(which i would have to agree with)

    Not sure if they count, but really Ehrgeiz and Tobal’s 2 rpg games inside of them were quite certainly rogue-like(if Diablo counts as a rogue-like), Ehrgeiz’s
    pretty much stood up to any of it’s Playstation rogue-like competition of the day.

    Then if you really want to get detailed, post-rogue, most of the early AD&D games were very rogue-like.

  16. That Essential 50 piece is best left to the dustbin of history. I didn’t really grok the genre at that point, and Diablo doesn’t belong to the club.

  17. Actually, looking over that article it’s not as bad as I thought — I wasn’t calling Diablo and .hack roguelikes, I was citing them as dungeon hacks. It’s not very explicit, though, so it’s still my fault for my lack of clarity.

  18. I read in an unofficial strategy guide (so it’s truth may be highly doubtable) that Diablo was originally planned to be turn-based, and got the switch to real-time somewhere in the dev process. Would have made for a very different feel, no?

  19. Actually, from the list as it stands, not everything that has been claimed is a roguelike IMO. A random dungeon game is not necessarily the same thing. Games that switch to a special combat mode eliminate the tactical nature of the gameplay, which means Climax Landers, Lufia 2, and I -think- (not having played it) Azure Dreams don’t really qualify. (Climax Landers IS the same thing as Timestalkers BTW, which was probably renamed in the U.S. to try to sell a few extra copies from the guys, like me, who fondly remember Climax’s Landstalker.)

    Now, there are people who have different opinions than myself over what constitutes roguelikeness, so folks are free to disagree with me. I tend to take a harder perspective than others, and usually require some kind of item scrambling, and Pokemon Mystery Dungeon doesn’t even have that.

    And there are roguelikes that actually limit their use of random dungeons, or don’t even use them. Fatal Labrynith, for example, doesn’t randomly generate its levels, it presents pre-made maps in random order instead. And I’ve noticed that Shiren, both the SNES and DS games, seem to use a selection of pre-made maps in their outdoor areas. Yet they still qualify, since it is more important for player placement, and monster and item generation, to be random. (For the record, I played FL back when it first came out, and wasn’t too impressed.)

  20. Yeah, a lot of this list is tentative, as I haven’t had a chance to play through some of the games listed (mainly the ones you’ve mentioned, except Azure Dreams, which I recall being pretty dang roguelike). I think a slightly liberal definition is in order for console variants in any case since their interfaces limit their depth and intricacy by nature. It’s very much a working list in progress rather than something that is in any way definitive. Like most of this site, really.

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