Game Center CX Season 12 – Back to Contents
The Kacho’s Ordeal!? "Furai no Shiren"
(Fun Fact: "Shiren" is another word for "ordeal")
If you know your old games, then you know that there are some that probably wouldn’t be good for Game Center CX; Arino would likely have too much trouble with them. This… is one of them, believe it or not. Fushigi no Dungeon 2: Furai no Shiren (Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer) is an extremely oppressive "roguelike" dungeon crawler, where death is swift and frequent. But it’s also a fun game of grinding and learning the ins and outs of an action RPG that lasts longer than its 30 floors would have you believe. Can Arino even reach the double-digit floors before dusk falls?
When he reads the back of the game’s box, Arino sees that the game takes pride in calling itself a "1,000-play RPG," as in, the average amount of times you’ll be attempting to beat it. Arino thinks he must have played Quest of Ki 50,000 times, so how bad can it be? And since this is the sequel to Torneko’s Big Adventure, Arino goes ahead and names Shiren "Torneko."
The game starts slowly, with Arino (as Shiren as Torneko) arriving at the quiet Canyon Hamlet before setting off on the adventure. First thing Arino does is visit Fay’s house to try out the weird old man’s puzzles, and after finishing one, he gets an upgraded sword! Not a bad start. Soon, he heads to the first "floor" in Old Cedar Road.
And then, it takes about 20 seconds for him to be killed by a pair of enemies. The turn-based movement and battle system can be tricky if you don’t think ahead a little, and unfortunately Arino used brawn over brains. After restarting, Arino gets farther than two steps, but soon triggers an enemy alarm trap, though he’s safe for the time being. He continues to search for the exit, and a few minutes later, heads to 2F.
On 2F, Arino meets a strange woman who asks him to close his eyes. After pausing to think about, Arino agrees, and then the screen goes dim. He just met Oryu, the devilish woman with the power to inflict blindness. Seconds later, Arino is attacked by enemies he cannot see, and is dangerously close to dying. He tries to save himself with an item, but it’s too late. He’s killed once more.
When he’s taken back to the Hamlet, Arino learns about another harsh element of Shiren: His stats are bumped back to level 1 after dying. Back again into the forest, and this time Arino happens upon a Katana, which is a nicely handy, powerful blade to have this early on.
Arino pushes on, getting to level 4 and then going up to 3F. On 3F he meets the annoying little arrow-shooting Bowboy enemies, but other than that, its a calm trip to the exit. Arino also learns of the "hunger" system, where Shiren must stay fed in order to keep his health from depleting too fast. After that, though, he dies again on 4F thanks to a stronger-than-expected Haboon enemy.
Fast-forward back to 4F, where he dies the exact same way. The deaths pile up on 4F, making things seem grim for Arino. After playing around in the inventory, though, he manages to upgrade his sword to +6, which surely should be a help.
After 4F, he reaches the Bamboo Village, where a blacksmith lives that will upgrade weapons fr a price — Arino uses him ASAP of course, and then continues to 5F. Here, he’s immediately ganged-up on, but the newly-enhanced sword makes quick work of them. And then, an intense duel turns out well when Arino not only wins with 2 HP left, but also upgrades to level 8. Lookin’ good!
Arino gets to level 10 and passes 7F, then reaches the Mountaintop Village. Here lives the jar master Gaibara, whose discerning taste causes him to throw pottery at the wall, but then throws out Arino as well. Instead, he upgrades his sword at the blacksmith again, and heads to 8F, where the envinorment shifts to a creepy dark mine. Unfortunately, it’s there that Arino is finally killed by a rogue reaper that guns right for him. And so, back to the bottom we go. Unsurprisingly, those first several floors continue to be a problem. By now, it’s been six hours since the start of the day.
When he gets back to 6F, Arino lucks into an item that boosts his sword to +11! It’s practically smooth sailing from there. On 8F, Arino drops down a trap door that leads to 9F, but it’s only good news on paper. It’s another archer, a Baby Tank, that kills him; its powerful arrows taking off big chunks of health. He gets back to 8F, but isn’t necessarily better prepared — he encounters another archer, but has a hell of time trying to get close enough to it to attack. Eventually, he uses an item to freeze the enemy, and then kills it. But then, later on, he’s killed again by an arrow while fighting a reaper at the same time. Those long-range little bastards!
Once again, Arino restarts, and once more we jump ahead to 8F. There, he happens upon a train of enemies coming from the bottom, and he quickly leads them into a corridor to fight them one-by-one (a basic Mystery Dungeon technique). But it’s a second wave of enemies that kills him for the umpteenth time.
On the next restart, Arino meets Oryu again on 1F, and this time she offers to join him on the adventure. Arino agrees, and Oryu provides some much-needed support. The two of them reach the next village, and at that point, AD Emoto steps into view with an important hint.
Basically, the old potter in the Mountaintop Town, Gaibara, calms down after Arino dies several times, and eventually gives Arino the Melding Jar, which allows a few items to fuse into a new one. Using that with two swords, he can ideally get a super-powered sword that will surely make things easier. Arino affixes a cold pad and gets to it.
Gaibara isn’t quite ready to stop throwing jars, though, so Arino steps back for now and continues forward through the dungeons. There he meets another party member, Kechi. Now three strong, Arino continues to 8F. Unfortunately, Oryu is killed, but Arino and Kechi survive just fine. On 9F, Arino is whisked away to another part of the floor by an enemy’s spell, and is separated from Kechi. But they reunite soon, and soon, Arino reaches Janus Valley, the bridge that connects to 10F.
Arino almost bites the dust on 10F, but using a spell scroll clears out the flaming beasts that nearly killed him. On 11F, Arino strategically positions Kechi to do most of the fighting, but that’s an easy way to get Kechi killed. And so, that does actually happen, and Arino is soon trapped by himself. Another tense duel between a Flamepuff occurs, but it’s just too strong, and Arino loses again.
But now is another good time to gcheck in on Gaibara, and Arino does just that. Unfortunately, the old man doesn’t seem to have changed his tune, so Arino keeps going. But then he dies again, goes back to Gaibara, and he still hasn’t offered up the fusion jar.
And by now it’s almost midnight in the real world. Arino’s given one last chance, so he has to make it count. He goes back to the mountain village and meets with Gaibara once more, and this time, miraculously, the fusion jar is available! Arino wastes no time tossing in his katana and another sword. His reward is the Katana +10, the combination of his old Katana +7 and another +3 sword.
And so, Arino heads to 8F, but he’s constantly assaulted from the get go, and the realizes that the Katana isn’t even equipped! Yes, in an amazing display of mistakery, Arino is killed before he even gets a chance to use his shiny new sword.
And so, the day is done. But Arino is offered a second chance. After rubbing his eyes for a while and thinking it over, he decides to take on Shiren again another day. Part 2 awaits…
Arino is in the thick of Chiba to visit Chiba Young Bowl, a bnowling alley with a sizeable game corner behind the lanes. This one’s a personal suggestion from show sound engineer Tani.
The firt thing Arino tries is Muscle Judgment from Atlus, one of those strength-rating novelty games. Arino uses all his power to pull a plunger-shaped thing from the bottom of the machine, and the machine rates him at 109kg, exactly in the right range for his age.
When he’s done with that, Arino walks over to a crane game fille with capsule toys. Actually, those aren’t toys in there… they’re panties. Arino grabs one easily on the first try, then pops open the capsule. Oh dear, they’re holed panties! Just what kind of place is this? Nevertheless, he pockets them.
It’s no help that the next game Arino notices is Gals Panic S2, the Qix clone where you try to uncover a sexy picture of a cartoon lady. It’s also designed to steal your money, as it’s incredibly challenging to make any progress. Arino dies a few times, but eventually uncovers the upper half of the lady. Still, he keeps dying, and just keeps plugging in coins.
When he’s finally spent, Arino looks over to the lanes and sees a familiar figure — Tani, of course! He just happens to be a bowling nut, with his own ball, shoes, and glove. And so far, he’s bowling a no-miss game.
Naturally, he and Arino face off. Arino gets a strike on the first try, but unfortunately, the pressure is too much for Tani, and he gutters his ball. Everybody’s shocked, but Tani has his shock mixed with shame. Arino gets another strike, and then Tani fails to hit a spare. Oh, well, it’s still been a fun day.
A Waste of Color
The first game Arino picks out of Kibe’s bag is Qix, the classic Taito game (and a nice callback to Gals Panic S2 from the last segment!). It’s a toughie, but Arino lasts a couple of levels.
Next is Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru, Nintendo’s spiritual predecessor to The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.
Lastly, it’s Rockman World! Also known as Mega Man in Dr. Wily’s Revenge. It features bosses from Mega Man 1 and 2, and Kibe points out to Arino that the big characters makes for a small screen and hard-to-see obstacles, which Arino immediately experiences for himself.
Out of the three, Arino chooses Kaeru to turn into a drawing.
Game Collections: 1990: January / February