Shiren the Wanderer: Never Wander Alone

By Spencer . January 22, 2010 . 11:07pm


At the start of the game Shiren has a companion. Make that a powerful, dual sword carrying elite swordsman. Shiren meets Sensei, his sake loving master, in the capital before setting foot in the first dungeon. The dungeons, if you never played a roguelike before, are sort of like a giant strategy RPG map. You act by moving one space, playing with items or attacking. Then the monsters on the floor take a turn. Players go back and forth until someone dies or Shiren finds a staircase to the next floor.


Sensei gives Shiren an advantage. Instead of one move you have two, three when fighting since Sensei strikes twice. The computer controls him by default and does so with a fair amount of “intelligence”. Sensei automatically throws rocks or shoots arrows at monsters far away and uses scrolls when necessary. Maybe too liberally for a packrat like me, but if you never played a game like Shiren the Wanderer before Sensei’s default setting is probably a lifesaver. Veterans will probably opt for to manually control Shiren’s partners, which you can select in the AI menu.




Speaking of “life saving”, Shiren has revive herbs, items that resurrect Shiren if he dies in a dungeon. Don’t have one of those? Don’t worry too much. You retain your experience and most of your progress. Shiren the Wanderer has a world map with paths leading to dungeons. Beat one dungeon and you can move to the next or walk all the way back to town without revisiting the same mountain pass you just beat. Just guide Shiren on the map and skip past all of the old areas. Since walking to town is painless it’s easy to store and (more importantly) protect your precious loot. Oh, you can avoid equipment loss too if you play in easy mode. What makes Shiren the Wanderer even more friendly is you can grind your way to victory. Levels stay with you even after you die and you can replay dungeons you beat at your own pace.


Atlus has been touting accessibility as a key point and they’re right. Shiren the Wanderer won’t drive you mad with frustration. The game feels “fair” since you can always replay dungeons to farm equipment and power Shiren up.




Because of this change, Chunsoft made Shiren the Wanderer’s boss battles grander. In the first major fight, Shiren and Sensei battle a giant centipede gripping swords in each of its arms. This boss is so big it takes up multiple squares. And you can use this to your advantage. Since the centipede is large, it’s easy to get both characters in striking range. After taking a few hits, the centipede burrows underground. You can see where it moves by watching its shadow. Now might be a good time to heal with all of those recovery herbs you stocked up. Repeat until the centipede crashes into the ground and you win!


One guardian down. Three to go. One of them is giant, floating catfish.

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  • malek86

    Ahah. In Shiren DS, there were allies too, except they actually became a liability in the later dungeons (they’ll be killed by stronger monsters, who will then go up in level to get too dangerous even for Shiren).

  • Jaxx-Leviathan

    Huh, more accessible… this might actually make me interested in this game. Most rogue-likes are just too punishing for my style so this might be interesting.

  • mFrog

    Not losing experience upon death? That alone makes the game accessible by tenfolds!

  • hsiao

    This is probably the only way to go in this market.

    An easy story mode where you can grind, completely defeating the purpose of the Shiren games in the first place (which is reaching the end using strategy, avoiding fights and using the items you find at your advantage, with levels bearing little to no importance), so every kind of player can buy the game and complete the story mode.

    And then post game dungeons with the standard Shiren rules, for everyone who loved and still loves the past games.

    This will work for one or two games – until the audience will get bored of a pseudo Rpg that feels like an action game with small pauses, which is what easy roguelikes basically feel like.

    I for one can’t understand the appeal of playing an easy roguelike, like PMD and Izuna games. If I wanted to play a roguelike like an Rpg, I would buy a much more polished Rpg in the first place.

    • malek86

      This. Roguelikes should have permadeath as their number one rule. It’s already enough that console roguelikes give us the chance to store some items so that we can “grind” them (personally, I always go for no-warehouse runs in Shiren).

      If not, we could just play a RPG, which is probably going to be better at what it does anyway.

      • hsiao

        Me too. Nothing better than finishing the game with a Hide Shield + 2 avoiding every single encounter in Table Mountain using the staves, and then sleep scroll + mamul meat from the village + wind scroll to kill the last boss ^_^.

  • ECM

    Please clarify: this is an optional mode, correct? Cause I’m a little hazy based on your wording…

    (Losing the online mode was bad enough–if this is ‘always on’ I’m going to board the train to Hateatlusville in short order.)

    • How about: blame it on Chunsoft it you don’t like it. Or vote with your wallet, either way.

      • ECM

        Blame it on Chunsoft? Because they’re the ones making the localization decisions? Oh, they aren’t? Oh, OK, I’ll just ignore you, then.

    • hsiao

      I know that there are multiple difficulty levels, but I don’t know the differences between them.

      I also have to point out that Lord Gek, probably the most skilled western player of the Shiren games together with gabikun, really liked this game, and this is obviously a good sign.

  • Ereek

    Oh, I don’t know, part of being inaccessable is why I like Roguelikes. There’s always a moment when everything clicks together for you that is intensely satisfying.

    Of course, from a marketing standpoint I completely understand why the developers would want the game to have a wider audience.

  • StealthKnight

    Ever since I played Chocobo dugeon for the wii, I have been interested in Rouge likes. I do feel adding an easy mode is good as it makes the game more accesable for those who are not familiar with the genre. As for leveling up, I don’t care as long as i don’t have to grind.

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