I’m not really much of a computer gamer, but the online PC game company Nexon has a lineup of titles that I’d be really into if I was. They’ve got 2-D cuteness in Maple Story, old school side scrolling beat ‘em up sensibilities with Dungeon Fighter, Tales-like vibes with Mabinogi, and console style hack and slash with Vindictus. So as a mostly console-only gamer, I was overjoyed when I learned that Dungeon Fighter LIVE was headed to Xbox 360 as a download title!
I’ll get this out of the way right at the start. A lot of people may scoff at the idea of a version of Dungeon Fighter that you have to pay for on the 360, when you can play it for free on the PC. And I can understand why folks may think that. But for me, I work at a computer all day, and then I come home and write game reviews on a computer as well. So when it comes to my game time, I kind of like to be away from that. Sitting on a couch with a game controller just feels different to me, and it’s how I prefer playing games. Surely there must be other people out there like that as well. So if you’re like me and also enjoy old school side scrolling beat ‘em ups, then Dungeon Fighter LIVE is for you!
Anyway, you first pick from three classes. Again, the PC version has more, but for now, three is enough for me on the console. You have the sword wielding Slayer class, the long distance shooting Gunner class, and the fists and feet as weapons Brawler class. You’ll accept missions in towns like defeating certain baddies or gathering certain items, then venture forth into dungeons and forests and other areas to fight monsters and collect goodies. Gameplay is similar to old school side scrolling beat ‘em ups like Double Dragon, Final Fight, or Streets of Rage. But with a medieval fantasy theme here. When you defeat all the enemies in a room, you can exit to the next and you’ll leave the dungeon when you beat the boss. Along the way you can pick up lots of items and weapons from defeated foes, or inside barrels or chests.
Back in town, completed missions net you experience points and important items. You can do lots of things with the booty you get on missions. Weapons and armor can be equipped, just make sure you’re at a high enough experience level to use them. Or you can sell them, reinforce and strengthen them, disassemble the goods for scrap parts, combine parts to make new items, and much more. The game places a high emphasis on item management and synthesis, and most of the time it’s pretty easy to figure out. You can really tell the difference in speed and strength when you equip better armor and weapons. Only problem I had with the game is that they don’t explain some aspects of item usage very well. It took me forever to figure out that you can only open lucky pots and use item recipes by pressing the X button on the menu and only in dungeons.
Play control is easy to learn, though. One button attacks, one jumps, and one is for special skills. Some special moves require simultaneous stick movements like a fighting game, but you can also assign skills and items to hotkeys accessible by holding the shoulder and trigger buttons. I love the artwork and character design in all Nexon’s games, and Dungeon Fighter is no exception. This is one game in need of an art book! In-game graphics are equally as clean and vibrant. You can also conquer dungeons and trade items online. As with most simple online PC games, Dungeon Fighter LIVE is very addicting and fun, and one of the best Xbox LIVE games I’ve played this year so far.
Dungeon Fighter LIVE is rated T for Teen with ESRB descriptors of Suggestive Themes, Violence, Blood and Gore, and Use of Tobacco. You do punch and kick all manner of goblins, demons, and other monsters, and they do explode into pixelly bits when defeated. But it’s not really that gory. In some of the comic book style story sections, you can see blood on the ground and on injured people. And one person in the comics smokes a cigarette in a panel. The anime styled female townsfolk aren’t ashamed to show a little cleavage, and the female brawler’s outfit is a bit revealing. But I would be OK with maybe older preteens playing this because I grew up with arcade games similar to this one, and I think I turned out just fine. Reading skill is a must, and some parental supervision is recommended for going online. But the complexity of the item management in the game is the best reason why Dungeon Fighter is better for older players. It’s still a fun game to play together, though.