Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer (#3)

I finished the main dungeon in Shiren on Monday night, and it was a fun, satisfying experience.

Many games just don't give much of a payoff when you win, but Shiren gives a nice reward in terms of narrative. And what I said earlier this week about thinking being more important than gear is true--I finished the dungeon with a Katana +5 and an Armor Ward +1, which is pretty weak in terms of gear.

In terms of your item inventory, here a few things to remember if you're a new player.
--dragon herb is incredibly powerful early in the game, but it's much less effective in the last ten floors of the dungeon.
--if have a jar of change, remember to collect the weeds that field bandits create before you get to Mountaintop Village. Turning weeds into possibly valuable items never gets old.
--the "happy" armband is incredibly valuable early in the game. Wearing it gives you experience points as you walk, and instead of being L9 when you get to Mountaintop Village, for example, you'll probably be around L15. Like dragon herb, this is much less effective as you continue, so what I do is wear the armband until Mountaintop Village, then leave it in the warehouse. Sometimes you'll get lucky and a courier will ask if you have anything for Canyon Hamlet, which means you can just send it back with him and it will be waiting for you on your next playthrough.
--monster meat is one of the most powerful items in the game. For instance, if you see mamel (those weak little blue and white creatures on the first two levels) meat in Bamboo Village, it will only cost 300 gitans. That's the best bargain imaginable, because if you throw that meat at a monster, it will turn into a mamel. That's saved my hide more times than I can remember. Now if you have the meat of a powerful monster, eat it and you will turn into that monster, but I prefer to weaken enemies instead of changing myself.
--staffs, staffs, staffs. Almost any staff is going to be more powerful than a single item (with the exception of the Scroll of Confusion, which is essential for surviving Monster Houses), so put as many in your inventory as possible. Particularly useful are Knockback Staffs, which get monsters away from you for a few turns (unless they're next to a wall).

In terms of combat, here are two techniques that I found very useful. The first is when you come upon a Monster House. There are risks to doing this, but I always use a Scroll of Confusion if I have one. That makes monsters attack each other for several turns, and by the time their heads clear (after I've taken advantage and killed a few myself), 2/3 of them may be gone.

Here's the risk. Those remaining monsters have leveled up each time they've killed, so what's left will probably be very strong. That's when I head to a corridor, so that I only have to face one at a time, and I'll start shooting arrows as early as possible. In conjunction with Knockback Staffs, Staffs of Sloth, or Staffs of Paralysis, you can buy enough time to shoot plenty of arrows. And if monsters are lined up in a corridor, one swing of the Doppelganger Staff will turn the lead monster into a copy of you, and he'll be the one who gets attacked.

In general, Knockback Staffs are outstanding, particularly in the Ravine of Illusions. Believe me, you don't want anyone near you on that level, and Knockback Staffs and arrows can get you through with almost no damage.

There's a Wiki (and I can't remember if someone sent me the link, so if you did, I apologize) for Shiren which has quite a bit of information, and you can read it here.

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