With the popularity of ‘rogue-lite’ roguelike games on smartphone platforms, it’s not surprising to see that some of them are making their way to the similarly-portable Nintendo Switch. Dandy Dungeon: Legend of Brave Yamada is one of them, but this one in particular won me over quickly thanks to its charm and witty localization.
In Dandy Dungeon, you play as Yamada, a down-in-the-dumps, 36-year old game programmer who only wants to make his own RPG at home (and only wearing boxers). However, dedication to his craft gets him fired from his former job at Empire Games, who personally sends hit-programmers after Yamada out of petty spite to turn his game into a proper mess, only restorable if Yamada is able to clear it. And thus begins… the Legend of Brave Yamada.
Gameplay is two-fold, with the real-life section seeing Yamada earn programming EXP to level up and program in more features, and progress the story. Here, you are able to change and upgrade Brave Yamada’s equipment, and there’s also a leaderboard functionality where you can compare scores with other players.
Meanwhile, the gameplay takes place in a top-down dungeon, bringing to mind games like Tower of Druaga. Using the D-pad, you must draw a line from the entrance to the exit, with Perfect Clears constituting completely going through every tile on the map. There are enemies to defeat, and while you start at Lv. 1 each time, Brave Yamada is able to unlock various items and spells that run on a turn timer, which helps get through the dungeons unscathed.
While the controls are workable, you can tell that the game was originally made for mobile, with the item swapping using the shoulder buttons being a bit clunky as clutter increases. However, the gameplay itself provides some lighthearted puzzle-solving fun with an RPG aesthetic, and watching Brave Yamada take down enemies just the way you wanted to play out is quite satisfying.
However, where Dandy Dungeon shines is in its tongue-in-cheek story, presentation and localization. The game is the brainchild of Yoshiro Kimura, who’s known for his weird games like Little King’s Story, a charming game about a king who conquers the world, and it definitely shines through here. It’s also very Japanese, featuring a gibberish language that ends with ‘-nanoda’, and also things like the frequently-memed hawk pose you see above.
At the same time, the English localization has also added a ton of charm, from Yamada’s speech patterns, to references that only Western players will get. The composer for Dandy Dungeon created English tracks specifically for the Western version, which only makes the game more lovable. Even without the knowledge of the cultural context, I was able to have fun watching the unlikely protagonist manifest his destiny, saving princesses and defeating bad (company) bosses along the way.
Finally, there’s also a deluge of RPG references, especially Dragon Quest and Tower of Druaga. And I can always appreciate some more love for Tower of Druaga.
Dandy Dungeon: Legend of Brave Yamada is currently open for pre-load, and releases on the Nintendo Switch eShop on June 27, 2019. You can visit the official game page here.