Tower of Druaga
Based on: The erroneous notion that aimlessly searching for invisible items everywhere is inherently fun. Kinda like Milon's Secret Castle!
Nich has been plugging away at Nightmare of Druaga lately, so I decided to take another stab at the original, Tower of Druaga. God, I can't believe I actually paid money for the GameCube version of this stupid thing. (How much, you ask? No, it's too embarrassing to say.)
I dunno what it is about games like this that lure me in like the sucker that I am, but for some reason I just can't resist dungeon crawls. They're boring, shallow, pointless and stupid -- but I can't get enough of them. Not just the good ones, either, like Rogue; even games which I objectively know to be garbage (see: Falcom's Brandish) are like terrible candy to me.
Even so, I can't stand Tower of Druaga.
Maybe it's the inconsistency of the whole thing. I don't know what the arcade version is like, but the Famicom port (as seen in last year's GameCube reissue) is a flaky, unreliable mess. With something like Rogue, you have a set amount of health and the assurance that if you willingly bump into a bad guy, you'll knock off some of its hit points. Druaga is one of those one-hit-death games, and there's seemingly no way to control exactly who does the damage. You walk into enemies with your sword out, and sometimes you die. Sometimes you don't.
The dungeon appears to be randomly-generated, and is consistently aggravating. Each floor has three common elements: the door to the next level, a key with which to open the door, and a treasure chest which appears if you fulfill certain requirements. It's pretty important to collect the chests, since they contain vital power-ups. Like the ability to move at something other than a gastropod-like slog.
I keep hearing about how this game was so popular back in the early days of the Famicom, and I can only wonder why. Fami gamers must have dissolved into joyful tears once good dungeon hacks came along, like Zelda. They were probably so giddy with joy they didn't know what to do with themselves.
The arcade version of Druaga can be found on Namco Museum 3 for PlayStation, but I wouldn't bother if I were you. If you really have to subject yourself to this sort of thing, wait for Nightmare. It's a weird sort of throwback that's totally going to be lost amidst this high-profile-release-happy holiday, but what little I've seen of it makes it look a few orders of magnitude more fun than the game it's based on.