Mystery Dungeon Shiren the Wanderer DS 2: Demon Castle in the Desert begins with a weary Shiren wandering in the desert. After Shiren collapses he is dragged away by guards and chained to the wall in a dungeon. Koppa is bound too so it looks like there isn’t any hope of escaping until a mysterious princess climbs up a hidden staircase and unshackles them. Shiren’s first goal is to escape the desert fortress by making his way through six floors.
With no items in his inventory Shiren is helpless against the chain of guards chasing him. Instead of opening with a tutorial level the first stages of Shiren have players navigate through a winding dungeon littered with mines. The only way to get through safely is to use the R button to clear corners that the guards snake around. If the guards catch up to Shiren they whack him and deal one point of damage.
You don’t get armed with weapons, shields, and bracelets, which are now common items in Shiren DS 2, until you enter the first real dungeon. Pekeji, Shiren’s “brother”, introduces it to you claiming there is treasure to be found. At night Shiren follows Pekeji in and the dimwitted Pekiji falls right into a trap. Now Shiren has to save him.
For the most part Mystery Dungeon Shiren the Wanderer DS 2: Demon Castle in the Desert feels like Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer. However, instead of making the sequel tougher Sega made Shiren DS 2 more friendly. In general, important items are much more common. You aren’t going to walk through five floors unarmed. Shiren easily finds swords on the ground. Also unlike the previous Nintendo DS Shiren game you can teleport out of dungeons. Shiren DS 2 has a single town that acts like a hub and central resting place. If you think Shiren is in trouble you can escape a dungeon and retain all of your equipment by using a teleport scroll. Since teleport scrolls are common to you won’t die in Shiren DS 2 nearly as much if you’re careful. Once you’re in town you can pawn your precious items in the town store or store them in a warehouse. However, if Shiren returns to town he starts at level one and has to start the dungeon from scratch. I know this might sound frustrating, but it sure beats the alternative – returning to the beginning of the game with empty pockets.
Shiren DS 2 doesn’t feel like an endless journey either. Progress in Shiren DS 2 is tangible partially because Shiren DS 2 has a story to follow and multiple dungeons to complete. Compare this to a subtle system of powering up a single sword and shield over the course of replaying the same areas that eventually make Shiren a killing machine. My initial impression is Mystery Dungeon Shiren the Wanderer DS 2: Demon Castle in the Desert much more accessible than the previous game. Unfortunately, Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer got off to such a slow start in North America it’s hard to imagine Sega USA publishing the sequel here.
So what’s do veteran Shiren fans have to look forward to? More mamels and new monsters. One of them in the first dungeons is an evasive monkey that moves diagonally backwards to dodge your attacks. I also beat a boar that rammed Shiren and knocked him back a few steps. Of course you don’t need to know Japanese to figure these things out, but you will need to have some grasp of the language to figure out how to use your items and understand the story in Mystery Dungeon Shiren the Wanderer DS 2: Demon Castle in the Desert.
Images courtesy of Sega.