E3 2008: Away Shuffle Dungeon
07.19.08 - 12:45 AM

Majesco isn't the company most people would think of when "unique action RPG" comes to mind. While the company has published such fantastic titles as Psychonauts, their focus shifted to casual and budget titles. Perhaps bolstered by the success of franchises like Cooking Mama, Majesco is once again expanding its horizons, publishing the DS Action-RPG Away Shuffle Dungeon. The game is... unique if nothing else.

Possibly what makes Away Shuffle Dungeon the most unique game we saw at the show is the fact that it's really two different RPGs mashed onto the same cartridge. They games aren't separated, though, almost as if when they hit the cartridge, the code combined. Half of Away Shuffle Dungeon is a 3D action-RPG, the other half is a Zelda-like 2D title. What separates the two? Not a whole lot. While players navigate their city, they start in a 3D perspective, but as soon as they enter a dungeon, the game shifts to its 2D perspective.

Players shouldn't expect to see the same static dungeons they'd see in a game like The Legend of Zelda, though. Dungeons span both screens and players can move freely between them. Based on the completion of certain objectives, the dungeon will shift - either the top or the bottom screen will shake, and soon afterward that screen will be replaced with a new portion of the dungeon. Should the player be on that screen when it shifts, he'll be transported back to the beginning of the dungeon. The other aspect of the shifting dungeons that players have to worry about are tiny creatures called fupong that follow the player. These function as the player's magic, and when one is used, it will turn clear. Should any of the fupong get caught in a shuffling screen, their powers will be removed for that portion of the dungeon.

Once players reach the end of the dungeon, they're faced with a boss battle... and the game once again becomes 3D. Players still have their sword and fupong for magic, but now see the battle from an entirely different perspective. When players complete a boss battle, they have successfully rescued a villager from the nearby town that's been obliterated. These villagers will return to their shops, which are placed by the player, and give the adventurer access to new weapons, armor, and the like.

While Away Shuffle Dungeon is certainly unorthodox, the Artoon-developed title shows quite a bit of promise, and we're excited to see a final build when it launches later this year.


John McCarroll