Have you ever played an RPG and wondered where all those random dungeons came from or how those monsters got in there? And how in the world did those monsters learn to put treasure into tiny boxes? Sometimes it would seem that everything was magically placed there with no real purpose or answer as to how things came to be. And sometimes, that little lack of explanation or lack of meaning is enough to kill the atmosphere of any good game. However, there is one game that will answer this great RPG mystery; albeit, it's a unique and strange one. The game is Dungeon Maker: Hunting Ground, and the answer is that special architects called Dungeon Makers build them. Now who would've thought of that, huh?
"Besides, if there isn't enough exploring or RPGness in this game, consider the fact that you're also getting an Interior Design sim, too."
In this title, you play as a novice Dungeon Maker who comes to a small town that is overrun by vicious fiends. To save the town, the hero undertakes the task to build a grand dungeon. For you see, these dungeons are meant to lure monsters away from human civilization, provide a space for these troubled misfits to run amok, and yes, make it easy for you to slaughter their kind collectively. The bigger and better your dungeon is, the stronger the monsters will get. Your primary goal is to capture the legendary Wandering Demon who is responsible for all the monsters in the area.
So, how does one go about building dungeons, you might ask? It's simple, you get a little help from the Home Depot...er, actually, from the Building Shop Master and his lovely assistant. Basically, you buy corridors and rooms of different shapes. You can then buy wallpaper which will change the appearance of corridors or rooms. Wallpaper can make bland areas into lovely treasure rooms, regal castles, or ominous rock caverns. Building certain kinds of rooms will attract different monsters or will have particular functions. For example, building a treasure room will obviously garner treasure, but the kind of treasure room will determine what monsters appear to stash away their loot. Building the dungeon is literally done as you move through it; you walk up to the wall you want to build at and you can connect a new structure with the pieces you've bought. The dungeon can grow to massive levels and up to 20 floors.
The game basically plays on two interfaces: the town map and your dungeon. On the town map, you can move around to different locales. You can shop for magic and potions from the sultry Magic Shop sisters, visit the Museum Curator who keeps a compendium of monsters you've lured into your dungeon, or just grab a meal and sleep at home.
Battles on the other hand, all take place in the one dungeon you are constructing or in random pre-made dungeons. These dungeons can be discovered, then connected to your own. Be warned though, monsters in these areas are tougher than usual but the loot they guard is well worth it. Battles are all in real-time. There is no class system, so you can have full access to tomes of spells and racks of melee and ranged weapons all at the same time. A compass and a floor indicator are located on the upper-left corner of the screen. A semi-translucent map of the entire dungeon is kept to the right side of the screen; it should keep you from getting lost. If it gets in your way, you can always toggle it off or leave it to display adjacent areas only. To make monsters appear, you need to build first, leave, then rest at home. The next day, your dungeon should be crawling with vermin. Defeating monsters will give you loot and food ingredients. When you're done fighting in or modifying the dungeon, you can return to town and have a meal at home. Eating food is how you grow stronger, as there is no leveling up. Certain kinds of food will upgrade your HP, MP, and other stats. You need to prepare food by going to the Market Girl and she'll help you in putting those ingredients, which you got from slaying monsters, to good use.
Switching between the town and dungeon can get a little repetitive, especially since there is only one dungeon and one town. However, the developers knew this would happen, so they've added a little something extra: the ability to swap dungeons with friends via PSP ad hoc. So if you get bored with your own dungeon, you can try out your friend's work on your PSP. Besides, if there isn't enough exploring or RPGness in this game, consider the fact that you're also getting an Interior Design sim, too. If you're still in need of more information on this game, you can check out the staff impression here.
So, start planning for your dungeon designs now, because Dungeon Maker: Hunting Ground will hit store shelves this June 19, 2007 in North America. Dungeon Maker: Hunting Ground is only for the PSP.