Here’s another one of those Japan-only Nintendo 64 releases that’ll have irked many an RPG fan in the west.
Launched in September 2000, Japanese developer Chunsoft was behind the romp and it’s part of the Mystery Dungeon series. Clueless? So were we!
The History of Shiren the Wanderer 2
Shiren the Wanderer 2 (不思議のダンジョン 風来のシレン2 鬼襲来!シレン城!)) translates into English as Shiren the Wanderer 2: Demon Invasion! Shiren Castle.
This was the first outing in the series to feature proper 3D graphics.
Remember, that was still pretty common around 2000. Many long-standing games were only just getting their first 3D outing around the turn of the century.
The goal of the game is to get Shiren, the protagonist, to build a castle to fend attackers away from his village.
So, yes, your aim is to build a castle. Which is pretty cool. And to do that you head out and gather resources such as stone, wood, and mud.
After you’ve built the castle, your job is to then defend the bloody thing. Kind of like that sub-quest in Final Fantasy VII when you think about it. You know the one we mean!
Here’s the thing in action. Watch for gameplay action! Kōfun!
Shiren the Wandered 2 may well be almost 20 years old now, but this appears to be one of the great lost N64 RPGs. For the west, at least.
Reviews of the title were immense! Dengeki Nintendo 64 handed over 28/30 and the legendary Famitsu magazine dished out 38/40!
This made the game one of the top scoring games of 2000 and in its launch week it became the top selling game in Japan.
IGN got to review a copy in late 2000, too, and had this to say:
“As far as RPGs go, this is likely to be Nintendo 64’s cream of the crop. Square collaborators Chun Soft have a recognizable franchise here and the 64-bit update looks to deliver in terms of adventure and beauty. The only problem is, there is no announced US release date for this one and thus, Shiren the Wanderer 2 may be a must-have for importers only.”
Thusly, and thus, the game is forever linked to Japan. And us N64 owners of the era were left instead to play rubbish such as Ocarina of Time.
Egad, there’s just no justice in the world, is there!?
Shiren The Wanderer 2’s Production
Interestingly enough, Chunsoft initially planned the title as a 64DD release.
That was Nintendo’s massively delayed (and rather flawed) N64 add-on. That also didn’t make it out of Japan.
The game eventually took three years to develop under the direction of Shin-ichiro Tomie.
And the team was proud of its castle building concept, which does sound rather innovative for an RPG of this era. We like it!
However, we’ll never get to play it. And neither will you! Unless you learn Japanese and dig up an emulator online.
In 2010 there was a moment when Chunsoft considered launching the title on the Wii’s virtual console, but nothing came from that.
The developer was responsible for some innovative (if odd) games, such as the visual novel Otogirisō (1992) on the SNES.
Chunsoft also released what appears to be the final game in the Shiren series: Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate.
This was a roguelike title launched on many systems and re-released on the Switch in 2020. Huzzah? Well, huzzah!