Dungeon Fighter Live: Fall of Hendon Myre Xbox 360 Review

I have always liked the idea behind Dungeon Fighter Online. The thought of Streets of Rage or Golden Axe mixed with the blend of RPG and dungeon crawling with online multiplayer is something I could immediately embrace. The problem is Nexon will not let me play the game since I live in the UK and Dungeon Fighter Online is not available to play in this country. I was happy to hear that the series was getting an Xbox Live Arcade spin-off in the name of Dungeon Fighter Live: Fall of Hendon Myre, which would finally allow me the chance to play it for myself. Sadly, this game does not offer a comparable experience to its PC counterpart; in fact, a feeling comes across that the team only put out minimal effort in order to make some quick cash.

A nasty disease called Phantasmalia is ravaging through the land of Hendon Myre (the game’s title tells you it is going to fall, so you know this place is going to suffer). This disease is spread by monsters, just like how the Black Death was passed around by rats. Strangely, this disease seems to affect only children or the elderly, and these poor infected people go mental before they end up dying from the illness. To combat the increased monster activity three heroes known as Dungeon Fighters decide to offer their help to solve this problem. It is not often a beat-em-up or an online MMO ends up having a great story, and that is the same here. Dungeon Fighter Live’s story is very forgettable. It gets lost in the baggage of side quests to the point you have no idea what has happened so far when you try to remember.

The game offers you a choice of three specific classes. The female Fighter is the brawler, the Slayer is the dude that carries big swords and loves to chop up opponents, and lastly, the Gunner, is a tall dude that likes to shoot bullets with his (take a guess) guns. Each one plays differently, so if you like brawling close and personal then the Fighter class is the one to go for. If you like to stand away and shoot, well you are going to want to play the Gunner.  Either way, make sure you like the class because you are going to be doing a lot of grinding in Dungeon Fighter Live.

Characters in the game’s central hub give out quests. However, this area is done in 2D stills, like fancy menus with art and graphics representing the location and characters rather than fully explorable. After receiving your quest, you then have to move to the dungeons to begin. Dungeons are made up of small grids with doorways (you can see this on the map on the screen) that require you to beat all the enemies in that area before the doors open up allowing passage to continue. Getting to the end of the dungeon brings a boss fight that needs to be defeated to finish the dungeon. That does not sound bad, but the problem lies with after you have first experienced a new dungeon.

Every dungeon has three difficulties. Once you beat the normal setting then expert opens up; once you beat the expert level, the final option, master, will become available. Sometimes you have to beat a quest to get the next difficulty, but mostly it just opens up after completing the difficulty before it. All that the difficulty does is make the enemies harder. The dungeon has the same layout, with the same monsters in the same places. I wish there was random generation, especially with a grid based system as that seems like it would be a perfect opportunity to create some random pathways and remove some of the repetition. This isn’t the case though, and replaying the dungeons becomes a huge chore as more often than not you’re revisiting the same places multiple times to complete pointless fetch quests for town folk.

Combat at the beginning of Dungeon Fighter Live is incredibly limited. Tapping the X button allows you to string together a combo – four hits for the Fighter class I used – that is the basic attack for any class. Combo animations play out even if you do not hit anyone, unlike Streets of Rage, where in that game you are constantly doing the same punch until you hit someone and then the combo animation plays.

I know 2D beat-em-ups are simple when it comes to their fighting mechanics, but at least the best ones have different move sets. Let’s take Streets of Rage 2, for example. In that game, you have the basic attack, but you could stop that and do other moves and grabs. The start of Dungeon Fighter Live has you begin with the standard combo and a special move that uses a magic metre to execute. It is not until you level up that you start to begin to get new special moves that you can use along with your standard combo, but to be able to keep pulling them off you are going to need a carry a bag full of magic refills to allow the character to keep using specials. It is a shame that it takes so long to get to the point where you have all your moves because as I was beginning to have some fun with the combat towards the end of the game, even if it was not as good as the classic beat-em-ups from the 16-bit era.

Loot is the last big feature that this game is not afraid to throw at you. Every enemy you kill will regularly drop some sort of loot, be it weapons, armour, items or materials to create new equipment. All the standard item loot mechanics from every loot game are here, including rare, common and magical items. The menus that deal with items are slow and messy because you need to look through your list of items and press Y on each one to see if it is better than the one you have equipped. This is simply bad UI design that slows down equipment swapping. I hated it to the point where I would wait until I leveled up before I decided to check my equipment for better items.

Online is available for up to four players. At the start of entering a dungeon, you can create a party and wait for people to join. The game is always open unless you lock the slots, so people can drop in and out of your game while in the heat of punching goblins in the face. Lag was not a factor, which is always good in my opinion. Speaking of goblins, there is a lack of monster types and designs, with too many been goblins for most part of the game. Even later on, the typical colour pallet swap comes into play to change the enemies, leaving me a desire to wish that Dungeon Fighter Live would have more enemy designs.

Faults aside, Dungeon Fighter Live can be entertaining in short bursts, but its biggest downfall is the content size of this small Xbox Live Arcade version in comparison to its PC counterpart. Let’s just throw some stats out there to see. Dungeon Fighter Online is free to play while this title is 800MSP. The PC game lets you get to level 70 and the characters can learn a sub class. What does this Xbox Live Arcade version have? Max level of 20 and no sub classes, AND you only get three classes (Want to know something funny? This is a four player game, so someone will undoubtedly play the same character as you) while the PC version has double this. All I can say is that the Xbox 360 version of Dungeon Fighter is a shadow of its former self.

When the game is not moving then the art looks decent and crisp on the TV. Once you start to move then you see how shoddy the animation is. It looks like one of those flash games you see around the Internet. Characters move very stiff and lack fluid motions that you have come to expect in this modern age of video games. Again, the PC one looks better in this department too.

Call me disappointed in the end for Dungeon Fighter Live. I was hoping to have a nice smoothie of fun, beat-em-up gameplay, RPG elements and loot blended into one, but I came away saddened and frustrated. As I mentioned at the start, Dungeon Fighter Live feels like a last-minute project assembled by someone who did not care. As a person who is unable to play the better game on the PC, I was hoping they would take care in bringing this to the Xbox 360. Instead, we have a limited version of a game that is highly repetitive and in some ways offensive to console gamers – I am sure that those gamers would have preferred the complete package. With already some great beat-em-ups on Xbox Live Arcade, Nexon had to do their best to make Dungeon Fighter Live a hit, and releasing a gimped version is unacceptable. Next time, do not cut corners, Nexon!

 4  out of 10