Dandy Dungeon: Legend of Brave Yamada (Switch) Review
Streamlined, easy-to-grasp mechanics
Art style a tad overdone at this point
A Legend Well Told
Pixel art indie titles are at an all-time high. It’s doubtful that comes as a surprise to you, avid gamer that you are, but I find myself getting pixel fatigue scrolling through the eshop, looking for something new to play. It comes as a delight, then, when a title couples this trite presentation with refreshing originality and more importantly, personality. Enter the dungeon, the dandiest dungeon you’re likely to traverse, in the aptly titled Dandy Dungeon: Legend of Brave Yamada, brought to us by publisher and developer Onion Games.
Billed as a rougelite RPG, the majority of the gameplay follows a simple formula. In each floor of the current dungeon, which is laid out in a grid, there is an exit that leads to the next floor. The goal is to draw a line from our hero Yamada’s current position to the exit, though one can expect a variety of enemies and obstacles to stand in our hero’s way. After the line is drawn, it’s an automatic process that occurs as Yamada follows the path and fights the enemies, leaving the player to utilize some items and equipment to keep Yamada alive and kicking. If all the squares in the grid are cleared, there is a bonus given, and if not, Yamada will take some damage. After all the floors are cleared, usually preceded by a boss fight, the dungeon is completed.
One of the big draws is the loot system, which will see Yamada collecting materials he can use to upgrade equipment. With upgrade costs rising with each successive upgrade, as is RPG law, one can spend many hours trying to find just the right ingredient to power up equipment just a bit more. This rarely got tedious for me, as the gameplay loop is one that is simple enough to be accessible, but engaging enough to not be a slog.
The setup to this dungeon crawling is a fun one. Yamada is a game tester in the real world, who has just been fired from his job. Despite his bad break, he seems titillated to have the opportunity to focus solely on his game development, which he has been working on in his spare time. The game has many self-aware moments, where the tutorials are done as Yamada decides to add a new game element, and it’s quite fun to see Yamada’s real life affect how is game is coming along, such as his love interest in the real world becoming his damsel in distress in the game.
Overall, the game, and the game within a game, are oozing personality. From the affectionate way that Yamada-kun talks about his lady crush, to the consistently funny way that his clothes fly off of him when he is ready to start working on his game, there was a lot of charm captured in not a lot of pixels. Masterful stuff. The music was catchy too, and I thought it did well to compliment the pixilated aesthetic. That humming was definitely unique. I’m really just glad that a pixel art game was able to coax any sort of affection out of my jaded heart, and if nothing else, it proves that this genre of indie title has some fight in it yet.
While the Switch has become something of a dumping ground for indie titles of all shapes, sizes, and dispositions, it takes something truly unique to catch my eye and win me over. It seems that Yamada and his dandy dungeons were up to the task however, and I found myself enamored during my trek into his game. If you’re interested in a lite RPG with enough strategy to hold your attention, but without overbearing fighting mechanics or overly complex loot systems, I implore you to try Dandy Dungeon: Legend of Brave Yamada. Don’t let those pixilated screenshots fool you, there’s a lot of game to love here. You can pick it up on Switch starting June 27th, for $24.99.