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Dungeon Maker: Hunting Ground
PlayStation Portable
Reviewed: 7/29/07

Dungeon Maker: Hunting Ground is a game whose premise is immediately told within the title: a crazy bastard up and decides he wants a monster hunting ground, so he's building a dungeon. Right on.

Players get to work creating a dungeon which is sure to attract monsters and bad guys of all shapes, sizes, colors, and power levels. It all starts with a simple entrence and a few bland corridors, but eventually players will be constructing their own massive mazes and adding treasure rooms, fountains, shrubbery, various wallpapers, bedrooms, and much more. It's not quite clear who did the market research on what types of walls or furnishing attracts stuff like zombies and bats, but the townsfolk seem plenty aware that they are in fact, in an RPG, and they therefore must live by the RPG rules. Big maze equals big beasts. Duh.

Creating one's own labyrinth is cool enough, but then seeing it lure in the different monsters with the passing days, architectural modifications, and increased size is also rewarding and fun. To earn money, players will use the game's action-RPG system slaughter the monsters that wander into the dungeon (which earns some money itself) and sell the spoils they drop. This money will then be used to buy better equipment, food for daily meals (which determine stat growth), and rooms and hallway pieces for dungeon construction.

Screen Shot
I hate everyone here.

So players will do an awful lot of this: run into the dungeon, kill mobs, expand dungeon floor(s) with more hallways and/or rooms, modify said corridors and/or rooms, go back to town, sell things, buy things, eat, maybe take a request to find a certain item for a citizen, sleep, save, repeat. The process--especially the combat portion--is undeniably repetitious, which will turn some players off. Nevertheless, Dungeon Maker: Hunting Ground was made for the crowd who enjoys a good dungeon crawl and also perhaps has an interest in creating its own house of pain. And for its target audience, the game does very well.

One of few complaints about the game would be that during all that dungeon running and mob smashing, the combat can actually feel a little slow at times and control a bit awkwardly to boot. Certain attacks can be a little hard to aim, and sometimes the character moves sluggishly. It's a setback, but it doesn't do much to detract from the excellence surrounding the game's concept and how addicting it is overall. It's also fun to use network connectivity to check out a friend's creation. Settings and foes in this mode might look visually familiar, but going through a friend's mazes still feels great. Replayability here may also be a slight problem, because after upwards of 70 hours of this routine, wanting to start all over isn't an incredibly appealing idea. It is a feasible possibility for a much later time, though.

Those looking to be told a story about a guy who loses his memory and goes on a quest to find it and in doing so, ends up saving the world need look elsewhere; Dungeon Maker: Hunting Ground is about dungeon crawling, grinding, and bulding an excellent dungeon. And overall, it's a damn good game.

-Heath Hindman

Score Breakdown
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay 8.5
Story None
Graphics 5
Sound/Music 5.5
Replay Value 5
The Verdict: Very Good