Help a middle-aged programmer to a wonderful life in this quirky game.
Black Bird was an incredible game that people need to play. It was so utterly bizarre and yet so wonderful. Onion Games mixed side-scrolling shooter with a bonkers story and even crazier mechanics. I couldn’t stop smiling all the way through. So when I heard that these people were making another Nintendo Switch game, I couldn’t be more thrilled. Dandy Dungeon is equally strange, but pivots it in such a different fashion altogether.
Dandy Dungeon is all about a middle-aged programmer called Yamada-kun. He works for a big video game company, but utterly hates the job. After being thrown out of the company, he starts out on a journey of his own, a quest if you will. He sets out to make an RPG with him as the main character. As the story in the real world moves on, he starts to implement things he sees in the game. Is there a neighbour he really likes? Throw it into the game. An angry person that couldn’t stop shouting at him? Turn them into a boss encounter. It is a genuinely funny concept that I hope keeps developing over time.
As far as gameplay goes, you will use the stick or your finger to create a path and make Yamada walk across a floor. Every obstacle that he meets will be interacted with. Yamada and enemies will have a back and forth battle, items will be picked up, and special points will be used. The key to winning at Yamada’s game is to walk across every space on the floor. This isn’t easy, particularly with a strict time limit to create a path.
This makes Dandy Dungeon much more of a strategic puzzler. You have to plan first before it plays out. Once he starts running, the only real influence you have are the items you’ve collected. Yamada only heals when the character levels up, or when you use an item. These can vary from strengthening attacks to protecting you from harm. I found myself using them solely in critical situations. For your convenience, the game will pause and ask you to confirm, so no accidental presses disrupt your journey.
Every new game part that Yamada-kun makes will have multiple floors to get through. You can replay sections for a higher score, and boost your ranking on online leaderboards. The ultimate goal is to know how to approach a floor, climb the towers, and explore new aspects of this 36 year old’s life. It is wonderfully weird on so many levels.
As we have come to expect from Onion Games, the sprite work is quite cute. The characters have a certain weight and appearance to them, which makes them stand out rather well. Yamada’s figure in particular is well suited for the part he plays in the general story. Add to that, a fantastic soundtrack that is on a similar level to Black Bird. The battle theme brings back the singing voice, plus some chiptune sounds to boot.
We are about a month away from Dandy Dungeon’s release, and I’m flipping pumped. There is something addicting about clearing the floors, and making sense of Yamada-kun’s life. Onion Games have crafted a mold in which all of their games are formed. At this point, they can make the dumbest thing in the world and I’d be okay with that. Dandy Dungeon might be the best in that sense.