Pros: A true dungeon crawler, that gamers from the NES era will dig.
Cons: A slow pace and lack of story makes look weak in spite of "modern"
For gamers in Japan Druaga is synonymous with extremely long dungeon.
Of course Druaga doesn't mean dungeon in Japanese, but that's what
gamers expect after all of the Tower of Druaga games. Known for its
difficulty and endless mazes, the Tower of Druaga was a Japanese classic
that never made it stateside. Chunsoft's revision of the franchise as
seen in the Playstation 2 title The Nightmare of Druaga: Mysterious
Dungeon captures the spirit of the series and adds one to the number of
dimensions in the game.
Gamers looking for a deep story aren't going
to find on in the Nightmare of Druaga. You play as a prince on his quest
to save Kai, his princess. The princess was captured by the evil Druaga
and hidden within a giant labyrinth full of traps and monsters. Are you
going to have a party with the obligatory comic relief character helping
you out? Nope. Is there going to be some twist about the fate of the
universe? Not really. Does the main character suffer from some deep
psychological trauma? Guess again. All of those aspects that are common
place in what are known as "RPGs" today aren't in the Nightmare of
Druaga. It's a throwback to the days of good versus evil with a captured
girl somewhere in the middle.
Like the story the gameplay will be
defined as archaic by some and unique as others. The game places you in
control of Gill who you must navigate through a series of dungeons. In
each dungeon there is a key you must find. The key is required to open a
door so you can move to the next level. As you get deeper through the
game the key gets hidden further from the door and in better spots. You
do have a handy map that will give you an idea of the topography of the
stage. The map is also handy because it shows the location of the door,
too. One of the unique things about
the latest version of the Nightmare of Druaga is that you move on a grid
based dungeon. You can't move 360 degrees even though you're in total 3D.
Each time you make a step all of the other enemies can make a move too.
So the game plays kind of like a turn based action RPG. This unique
combination makes Namco's Nightmare of Druaga a unique mix of Diablo and
Battles become an interesting affair. You can give a
deft blow with your sword to deal melee damage. Every time you execute
an attack all enemies get a turn. They can either attack or physically
move away. Since all the other enemies get to move around you can find
yourself quickly surrounded by enemies. Besides your basic attack you
can use items like handy antidotes and potions. Recovery items are
extremely handy to carry around since ailments like poison can easily
kill you in four or five moves. You also have a supply of special
attacks that you can select from by tapping the right analog stick.
Special moves can give more damage, allow you to attack from afar or hit
enemies with status ailments. With all of these options and lots of area
to move around the battle system plays like a simplified strategy RPG.
Not unique to "Druaga", but an important part of dungeon crawling games
is finding treasure. You can find treasure through out the many treasure
chests scattered in the dungeon. There are also a number of invisible
chests that contain even better items. All together the items in the
game allow you to customize your characters armor, weapon, shield,
gauntlets and two sets of necklaces. A large portion of the game is
finding the rarest treasure and most useful items. Between obtaining
dropped treasure from monsters and scouring dungeons for chests there
are plenty of chances to get great goods.
Even though Nightmare of
Druaga sports polygon graphics they aren't the best around. You have
some nice looking frames of animation for Gil, but all the other
characters and monsters have simple animations. The never ending brick
wall background accurately represents a dungeon. Sure dungeons are
bland, but this is a game at least have some skeletons hanging from the
wall for scenery. The once nice graphical touch is that Gil has a radius
of light surrounding him. The reflective lighting effects and degrees of
different amount of light are all well done. Gil is followed not only by
his light, but by plenty of environmental sounds. Accompanying the subtle
sound effects is standard medieval fanfare.
As a package The Nightmare
of Druaga offers a spin on the RPG and action RPG genres. Druaga offers
plenty of monster slaying, treasure hunting and dungeon exploring. Gamers
who can put with some old school gameplay or looking for something both
challenging and different should give The Nightmare of Druaga a fair
Many of the important menus, status screens and the items are in
English. For the most part this make Druaga friendly to import. Although
many of the dungeons secrets are in Japanese, which will prevent gamers
from getting everything.
Namco has registered the trademark "Dungeon of Druaga: Mysterious
Dungeon" in the US so it seems like a release is inevitable even though
a release date hasn't been announced.
Even without a solid story, the Nightmare of Druaga is something that RPG
lovers and action RPG loves can enjoy.