The Nightmare of Druaga: Fushigino Dungeon Review

So it seems that The Nightmare of Druaga: Fushigino Dungeon is a sequel to the 1984 Japanese arcade game called The Tower of Druaga. Who knew? But now 20 years later all of those die-hard Druaga fans can finally...uh...well...oh, who are we kidding here? There really can't be that many fans out there or this would be the 20th sequel instead of the 2nd! But nevertheless Namco has released this game on the PS2 and I kind of wish they didn't. Let's see why...

The story is a familiar one. You play the hero, Gilgamesh Prince of Babalim or just Gil to those who know him, who was the hero in the first game. You are getting prepared for your wedding to Princess Ki, who just happens to be the same princess that Gil rescued in the previous game. Looks like the rescue party went very well for our man Gil! (I have always wondered how those rescues turn out...does the hero and damsel always hook up?) But as luck would have it a hoard of monsters headed by a masked sorceress attack Babalim and snag the bride-to-be taking her to the Tower of Druaga. That will certainly put a damper on the honeymoon. Naturally it's up to Gil and his radiating golden suit of armor to save his love and hopefully get a deposit back on his tuxedo.

Oh boy! More slime!

Maybe the best way to describe the gameplay here is old-school. You roam though a dungeon, or maybe you would prefer to say crawl so we can call it a dungeon-crawler?? Anyway, you are in a dungeon a lot and you must find the key to the next level for the dungeon before you can continue. The game will be quite different to those that have come to love the free flowing style of the “modern” RPG. There is a certain amount of strategy that goes into the game as you move in more of a grid pattern. You move then the bad guys move, that kind of thing. The game features, and I'm quote the game manual here, “revolutionary 'At-Once Turn System' (ATS)”. I really have no idea what that means and I've played the game! Best I can tell this means that the monsters, weapons, and equipment all have assigned speeds and the faster ones attack first. Not real sure if I would call that “revolutionary”, but I'm not in the marketing department.

One thing I do know is that the game really takes a while to play. And not in a good way. I mean it gets to be a bit more than repetitive to go trough dungeon level after level doing the same thing. Kill the monsters. Find the key. Find and kill the boss. Rinse. Repeat. All of the action with then “main” quest happens in the same dungeon. There are side quests you can take but many times they really are not worth the hassle. For instance, you must store all of your current items before you can go on one of the side quests because you have to use specific items for the given quest. That's just a little strange to me. If i happen to have a really great sword I should be able to use it and not have to leave it behind! Oh and if you happen to find something really neat during one of these side quest, don't get too attached to it because you won't be able to keep it once the quest is finished. But you at least do get some rewards for these quests, but honestly you would do better just sticking to the main adventure as you will get better stuff that way.

I also can not say I'm a big fan of the auto-save system Druaga provides. Basically it will only save once you are finished with a level. So if you happen to get killed in the middle of a level, too bad, it's back to the beginning you go! Oh and don't even think about dying in the dungeon! You will lose all your stuff and half of your gold! There is a way to “tag” a couple of items that will not go ways after you die, but it's is expensive and you can only have a few items marked. I didn't care for the menu system either. It seems a bit cumbersome to move around in. But I'm not going to say that the whole game was a waste of time. There were some interesting weapons and the ability to customize weapons to create more powerful ones is fun.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 52%.  While maybe not quite a “Nightmare”, Druaga may at least make your sleep an uncomfortable one. I would pass this one by for a host of much better alternatives.


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