August 22, 2012

Double Dungeons - Ranking

Story & World

A maximum of two whole sentences before each level amazes the player by showing how many different ways the game can con the character into entering the dungeons.  They don't even refer to Shen by his name; they just call him WARRIOR and toss his ass into the depths to fetch another princess or kill some dude.  Sometimes there's not even that much of a reason.  For example, the prologue to level six is "The legend of the mighty warrior causes the warrior to go into the dungeon."  The main villian, "Vandess", is mentioned multiple times as the game progresses but with such limited text it amounts to no more than name-dropping.  2/20

Character Development

Standard experience-based progression.  Offense and defense stats are not visible from the character or from any equipment.  There are rings that boost these stats but, again, who knows by how much (or even if it's permanent).  All the joys of levelling up a level one wusscake is repeated 22 times.  That's a unique approach to a game and it's also a terrible one.  Especially when every character build is exactly the same.  1/20

Combat & Monsters

There's nothing beyond button mashing for combat here.  Fights can be aborted by any time simply doing any movement other than forward (no worries, the monsters won't give chase).  This allows the main character to gauge the difficulty of a foe before fulling committing to the battle.  Often there will be encounters where both the monster and the character rarely do more than one point of damage when they hit (which isn't frequent).  By the mid-game, everyone has hundreds of hit points so these fights take forever.  So it's either go back and grind in the areas already fully explored or sit there for ten minutes developing carpel tunnel syndrome in the thumb.  At least the monster roster is quite large (although they all act the same way so I guess that's not really all that impressive).  2/20

Graphics & Sound

The visuals are very disappointing considering this is the TurboGrafx.  Even if these graphics were on the NES, it'd still just get a pass.  The music lacks in variety and for the 99% of the game spent in the dungeons there is but a single track.  Luckily, that one track is quite good although my judgement might be skewed somewhat since it's now permanently burnt into my ROM.  11/20

Gameplay

The challenge mostly comes from having enough willpower to endure spending the time necessary to get through the whole game.  I didn't have a choice in the matter; if I did, I probably wouldn't have made it past level 10.  The thrill of exploring new areas in the bigger levels is quickly dampened as dead end after dead end is reached.  It's so much fun to get to the end of a long corridor after fighting piles of monsters to just have to turn around and fight the ones that respawned all again.  I could see replaying (or even initially playing) this only if a second player was available and even then, just a few levels would do.   

I feel kinda weird saying this but I think the controls are the best part of the game.  Super-fluid scrolling combined with a brisk pace save this game from being any more tedious than it already is.  Jeez, how bad do you have to suck as a turn-based RPG when the controls are the outstanding element?  4/20

Final Ranking:  20/100