'DungeonCore' Review - A Mess Of A Good Game


I'm not sure why I stuck with "DungeonCore" on iPhone. It's extremely sloppy, with some of the poorest localization I've seen in a long time (example: "save data exist , continue ?") to ugly menus and a clumsy interface. And yet, I can't stop playing it.

The Basics

The best way to describe "DungeonCore" is that it's "DoodleJump" in reverse. You're trying to survive for as long as you can as you fall down an endless pit, running from platform to platform to keep from dropping into the void.

Like "DoodleJump," there are enemies, but they serve a much bigger purpose than to just distract you. Running into enemies kills them, leaving money behind. Every 100 meters, you'll enter a store where you can spend that money to upgrade your character. You can buy new equipment like swords and armor to increase your survivability, or boots to help you control your movements better. New equipment is unlocked as you snag certain achievements ("Collect 1000 gold" or "Fall for 400m").

The Highs

Character Customization

For a dollar on the App Store, "DungeonCore" offers a surprising amount of character customization. All of the items you purchase in the game change the look of your character, with some particularly zany themed hats later on. When you start each game you're literally just in your boxers, ala Arthur in "Ghosts & Goblins." By the end of your adventure you might be wearing a dinosaur hat, toting a golden hammer and hiding behind a giant metal shield.

The Perfect Run

Unlike "DoodleJump," there's actually an end to "DungeonCore." To make it there, you're going to have to be perfect. Killing all the monsters in a given section will reward you with a hefty cash bonus, and subsequent perfect runs will give you even more cash. This encourages "the perfect run," where you only save the game (which you can do at any of the in-game stores, for a high price) when you're satisfied with your last performance. I've restarted a checkpoint when I didn't manage to wipe out every single monster in an area, just so I could be sure to get the most possible cash for that sequence.

The Lows

The Controls

"DungeonCore" uses tilt controls, but they're not nearly as sensitive as they should be. Staying on a single platform requires a back-and-forth shimmy of the iPhone in your hand, and that gets real old after a while. A fix would be simple: Just have a button to make your character change direction. The current control scheme is just a pain.

The Localization And The Bugs

To understand how bad the localization is in "DungeonCore," you need only read the official description in the App Store, excerpted here:

"Rescue the most beautiful princess beset by the dragon!! It's every guy's desire who is born in the Fantasy world. Slay numerous monsters and take a journey to the deeper and deeper dungeon to save the beautiful princess. Are you ready to start the big adventure?"

On top of that, there are a handful of bugs in the game. The pause button doesn't actually pause certain enemies, for example. In addition, the game will sometimes give you an impossible-to-survive sequence, which just amps up the frustration level. And then there's the menu interface, which has tiny buttons and poor navigation.

The Verdict

And yet, despite these issues which probably seem pretty large, I find myself returning to "DungeonCore" again and again. I'd love to see these issues fixed, but if they aren't, I'm confident that I got more than a dollar's worth out of this game. And you should too.