Action! Romance! Passion! - maybe not the last two
Shiren the Wanderer 3 for Wii was announced TODAY by Atlus. Surprise! They had it on the floor, though no localization work was demonstrated on the title. I'm not a big fan of rogue-likes (and disliked both Izuna games) so I approached this with some trepidation, but as the guide was wearing Shiren's silly straw hat I couldn't resist taking a peek. I'm not really sold on the game myself but I expect it will appeal to those that enjoyed Baroque and Chocobo's Dungeon.
Thankfully my guide could read Japanese, so he led me to a dungeon and I began exploring. He didn't tell me before I left town that my inventory was full, so I wasn't able to pick up many goodies. He mentioned that enemies who did really mean things to your inventory were set much later in the game compared to the Izuna titles, though at death you still lose all inventoried items. You will, however, retain experience — though this seems to have become a rogue-like standard, so no surprises there. You can store items in-town, and rarely you can find an item that will teleport back to base something in your inventory, just in case you think you will die in the upcoming floors. I didn't see a way to escape out, but that could just be a lack of familiarity with Kanji.
Looks like a Western, but no Clint Eastwood sightings
What did surprise me was my partner. My guide explained I can have up to three people in my party — Shiren and two friends — with the firm warning that the death of any of the three would spell a big game over. It certainly made me think twice about regularly padding my party, yikes! Also surprising was the degree of control that you can gain over your partner. There are menus which specify what precisely they can use itemwise (scrolls, healing items, etc) as well as what items to equip, how aggressive they should be, as well as what skills or magic should be used. Alternatively, during really tense moments the player can actually take control of each character individually and play very similar to a tactical RPG, advancing and attacking with each character — a very handy tool when I was surrounded by a large flock of enemies.
I managed to trek down to the 8th floor and even gained a level on Shiren before the show ended for the evening and Atlus finally shooed me out of its booth. I'm not entirely sold on the game, but for a genre that I rarely play and am not terribly fond of, I still had a fair amount of fun...perhaps stemming from the fact I didn't walk three steps and die. For those that don't mind Shiren has a hungry tummy you must continue to feed as he explores, this game might be for you.