Mobile gaming may have a zillion titles to enjoy, but I swear I’ve never seen one like Dandy Dungeon before. This game really shows off the power of the medium on smartphones – and does it with inimitable flair. Now sit back, relax, and let me tell you the legend of the brave Yamada.
Yamada-kun is a uncoupled 36-year-old who works in a joyless gray job as an office employee. Tired of his life, he decides to put all his internal fire into his true passion: developing video games. This inventive premise yields something different from anything you’ve ever tried on Android before. The first thing Yamada asks you to do is tap him several times so he gets experiences, making you think that you’re about to play just another clicker. This is actually an inside joke, as Dandy Dungeon is actually a top-notch roguelike full of details that won’t bore you for even a second.
Your mission is to test out the game Yamada is developing – a dungeon-delving roguelike where you’ll beat the different phases with a peculiar system: you lay out the route Yamada must take from the start of the dungeon to the end, making each level a sort of puzzle. The maps are 5×5 grids and you’ll have obstacles along the way that force you to think hard of how to put together the best route, since each box you leave unvisited turns into damage you’ll receive at the end. Meanwhile, enemies and treasures of all kinds await you along the way. The fighting is automatic and the only interventions you can make are using items from your dungeon inventory, which is limited to five articles. You’ll level up in the dungeons as you win battles, though the level gets reset once you leave the “video game.”
Once you beat each dungeon with its different levels, you’ll return to Yamada’s room where you can level up your character (once you’ve got enough experience) and where you’ll view Yamada’s day-to-day life in ridiculous detail, with his run-ins with a cast of absurd characters and situations. But the best bit is that Yamada’s lived experiences enrich the game he’s developing: if his boss fires him, Yamada adds him to the game as a final boss; if he meets his new 18-year-old neighbour, he daydreams about falling in love with her and adds her as a princess to be rescued. Plus, you’ve got endless items (armor, helmets, potions, spells…) that can also be evolved if you get all the needed materials together. This means you have to revisit your past dungeons, but it won’t be that hard since they change as you go. The sole thing that will hold you up is your energy bar, which you’ll deplete with each visit to a dungeon and can only refill with time. If you don’t fancy waiting, though, you can always shell out real money and fling yourself into endless vice.
Dandy Dungeon is the best game I’ve ever played on a mobile device. An ode to game development that also parodies all the tropes of Japanese stereotypes – not just from gaming but from other arts like manga and film, too. It moves continually between self-parody and breaking the fourth wall. I have literally played this game every single day since I installed it and it continues to surprise me every time it starts. And I haven’t even mentioned its brilliant pixel-arty style. A genius project that showcases all the love developers feel for their medium and want you to feel too. I’m already playing it – why the heck aren’t you, too?
Dandy Dungeon for Android on Uptodown [APK] | Download