The Nightmare of Druaga: Fushigino Dungeon
With so many games out there trying to innovate or revolutionize the industry, it's rare to see a game that's perfectly content with where it is. However, that's exactly what The Nightmare of Druaga: Fushigino Dungeon does: instead of looking forward for inspiration, it looks backwards, into a simpler time where a damsel in distress was all that was really needed to have you set forth into a quest to save the world.
The Nightmare of Druaga: Fushigino Dungeon is a rarity among rarities: an old school dungeon crawler. While most RPGs and dungeon hacks utilize turn based action or a hack 'n' slash approach towards combat, The Nightmare of Druaga: Fushigino Dungeon uses a system that seamlessly blends the two. For example, while Druaga looks like it plays out in real time, it actually uses a simple turn-based system. Simply put, for every move you take through a dungeon (which is laid out in a series of grids), your enemy also takes a move. Because there are few menus you need to work through, Druaga has the ease of play that a traditional dungeon hack offers while still offering up a healthy dose of strategy, especially since you can wait as long as you want in between turns.
Everything else is standard RPG faire: plunder dungeons, kill enemies, level up, gain new abilities, hoard up loot, and save the world. Rinse and repeat as necessary. However, a lot Druaga's charm lies in its old school simplicity. It's oddly engaging, and even addicting despite its archaic and somewhat flawed gameplay.
A lot of the core mechanics in The Nightmare of Druaga: Fushigino Dungeon harkens back to yesteryear, and the difficulty level, likewise, seems to take a note from a time when games were a bit harder - well, maybe that was a lot harder. If, for instance you die, you can't simply reload from a past save point. Oh no, that's way too easy. Instead, all of your equipment is taken away and your money is halved. If you think you'll be a bit ingenious and just reload from the last save point or turn off your PS2, well the developers were two steps ahead of you: the game automatically saves over your file when you die, and you must save properly before turning off your PS2 or you'll receive a penalty from the game. Needless to say, dieing is completely devastating, and that one aspect alone makes Druaga a pretty unfriendly game.
However, The Nightmare of Druaga: Fushigino Dungeon seems to try and counter that underlying unfriendly demeanor with some mildly inviting visuals and audio. Nothing here is breathtaking by any means, but it does boast some fancy smaller effects like a hazy fog layer, if it is at the cost of everything else looking somewhat simplistic.
The Nightmare of Druaga: Fushigino Dungeon , in all honesty, has one main failing: it's a fantastic title, but for a very narrow audience. It's not a game for everyone, as both the antiquated gameplay and the high difficulty curve can be definite turn-offs. However, if you can take it for what it is, a solid old school dungeon crawler, then it definitely deserves a look from RPG fans and nostalgia buffs alike.