Natsume’s decision to make Dungeon Magic: Sword of the Elements a first-person RPG makes the game nearly unplayable. The NES can’t even begin to handle such a viewpoint and it’s frustrating when good developers think they’re going to be the ones to pull it off (see also: Pony Canyon’s port of A Bard’s Tale).
Thanks to the narrow view-master of a screen, you’ll have a difficult time discerning where you are and where you’re supposed to go next. When you do manage to get out of the initial town and into a castle, navigating the unwieldy menu system is akin to jabbing a thousand forks in your impatient eyes. Surely in 1990 a door should be able to open on its own without selecting DOOR from a menu? Even Enix eliminated such needlessness in Dragon Warrior II.
Combat amounts to mindlessly running into enemies and hoping not to die. This worked somewhat in Crystalis and Ys, not so much here. You can make your own spells with runes, which would be neat if the menu system/combat weren’t already a pain to deal with. And also, if using magic didn’t take off your health points. What kind of RPG combines hit points with magic points?
Dungeon Magic‘s ambition results in baffling design choices that overwhelm the player. Pass.
PUBLISHER: Taito DEVELOPER: Natsume GENRE: RPG
RELEASE DATE: 11/10/89 – (JP), 07/1990 – (US)