A few weeks ago, I noticed that a game called Dandy Dungeon: Legend of Brave Yamada would be coming to the Nintendo eShop soon. Intrigued by its retro aesthetic, I decided to try it out for myself. What I experienced next I was not prepared for, and had no idea just how much I would end up playing this game.
In this Onion Games published and developed title, you play as the titular character Yamada, a 36 year old Japanese programmer who gets fired from a big company, giving him more time to work on his own game. which involves saving a princess from various dungeons. As he creates and tests new levels, he makes sure to translate his life experiences into the game as well, including having a new next door neighbor take the role of the princess and other more troublesome people in his life serving as bosses in each dungeon.
When playing through a dungeon with Yamada’s self insert character Brave Yamada, you must create a path from the starting point to the exit for each floor, running into enemies, traps, and items along the way. As soon as you start making a path, a time limit appears, and if you don’t make it through within that time limit, fireballs will start to drain Brave Yamada’s health by 1 hit point each. Additionally, if the path made doesn’t clear all empty squares in a floor, then fire will damage Yamada for every empty square left untouched. Leveling up from defeating enemies — which resets on each run — will fully heal Yamada, so fire isn’t too much of a problem unless you’re still figuring out the mechanics. On the flip side of that, making a path through every square possible including the empty ones will grant players with a perfect rating and extra gold.
There are four different types of treasure chests found in dungeons: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Shiny . Bronze chests contain common items, while silver chests contain uncommon items, and gold chests hold rare items. Shiny chests have the rarest items in them and as such don’t appear often, so if you need the item in the shiny chest of a dungeon, it may take awhile before you get it.
Color coded somewhat similar to treasure chests, trophies are rewarded depending on how well players do in a dungeon. Bronze trophies are rewarded for just completing a dungeon and silver trophies are obtained through perfectly clearing every floor. Gold trophies are the most difficult to obtain since it seems you can only get them if you’ve perfectly cleared each floor and obtained the shiny chest. Gold trophies also grant players with a rare item as a bonus reward
Various weapons, armor, and other items found in treasure chests and throughout dungeons can be equipped to Brave Yamada to assist with dungeon traversal. Both weapons and armor can be upgraded to increase attack or defense, respectively, by using any material found in dungeons or purchased through the shop. Different items granting a different amount of experience depending on their rarity, so sometimes up to five different materials have to be stacked for weapons and armor to upgrade.
Once a weapon has been maxed out, it can only be upgraded with specific materials that will turn it into a new stronger weapon, which sometimes grant new skills. As Brave Yamada levels up through debugging, some themed special dungeons will unlock which usually are the best to grind through when specific materials are needed. Completing special dungeons will also unlock more special dungeons, which are great for grinding and upgrades when stuck on one of the main dungeons. Additionally, “Broke Quester” characters, will collect more materials for you if you give them gold. As they level up, your chances of getting better or rarer materials increase, a great option for when you need extra upgrade materials and don’t want to put in the work of going through a dungeon again.
Some items found in dungeons as well as the shop, such as healing potions and spell scrolls, can be used either prior to making a path or during traversal. This can be useful when on a floor with more enemies than items. In later dungeons there are hidden traps and other obstacles which must be circumvented through use of specific items, Items can’t be used indefinitely though, and have a cool down time after being used. Once they’ve been used enough, items break and have to be replaced with new ones.
At the shop, more common items are purchased with gold and the rarest items are purchased with Happy Clovers. Happy Clovers aren’t found often, so all items bought with them use a relatively low number. The biggest problem with this is that the main revival item, Rice Balls, cost three Happy Clovers and seemingly can’t be purchased with gold, so you have to rely on strengthening your equipment prior to going through more difficult dungeons unless you want to try your luck at getting gold trophies from dungeons that give clovers as a bonus reward.
As the story progresses, even more characters are introduced, in turn adding more features. These features include in-dungeon shops, a boss revenge system where previously defeated bosses come back stronger and drop rare items, a Golden Pyramid for extra challenge, more. While personally I think the boss revenge system is the best feature I’ve unlocked so far, I’m excited to see what other features I unlock as I continue.
With quick levels and few setbacks, Dandy Dungeon has really managed to surprise me. I’ve found myself playing it often whether it’s after I get up, during my commute, or before I go to bed. The largest problem I’ve found can be easily overlooked by how fast grinding becomese after knowing what exactly to expect from a specific dungeon. Dandy Dungeon: Legend of Brave Yamada may not look like much at first, but it’s definitely worth a shot if the mechanics, gameplay swiftness, and an abundance of content interests you.
Code provided by the publisher.