Dungeon Fighter Review

Dungeon Fighter game in play

Since I regularly try out as many dexterity games as I can, it should come as no surprise that I finally got my hands on a copy of Dungeon Fighter.

In Dungeon Fighter, the players take on a party of heroes that are attempting to navigate their way through a dungeon in order to defeat the ultimate (final) boss!  However, to do so, they will be throwing dice onto a target - often with strange stipulations included.  Throughout the game, the players will go through various rooms.  In each room, they will encounter a monster.  In order to defeat the monster, the players have to deal an amount of damage equal to the monster's health.  How?  By throwing dice onto the bullseye (hopefully).  Specifically, the players have three standard dice (and potential bonus dice).  Each time that they throw a die, it must bounce once before landing on the target, and then (assuming it actually stays on the target) it will deal damage equal to the area on which it lands.  If the die rolls off the target, doesn't bounce before hitting the target, was not thrown legally, or in any other way was a "miss", then the player throwing the die is "hit" by the monster.  After the players have thrown their three standard dice, if they have no bonus dice (or choose not to use any), then they are all hit by the monster again (but they get their standard dice back).  Play continues like this until the monster has been defeated (or all of the players have been).  Then, the players advance to the next level and repeat the cycle of die-bouncing dexterity.  If they manage to bounce their dice all the way to the final boss and defeat him, then they win!  When (yes, when - not if) that doesn't happen, the players lose!

The primary pro for Dungeon Fighter is that it can be highly amusing.  The designers have taken a very simple concept (bouncing dice onto a target) and have forced players to perform this "simple" task in a plethora of quirky ways.  For example, you might have to flick the die off the back of your hand instead of throwing it.  Or you may have to throw the die with your back to the target.  Or throw it under your leg.  Or, you might have to (or choose to) do all three!  Really, this is where the amusement of the game can be found - in being forced to do insane combinations of movements while trying to get the die to land on the right place.  (I think that my most difficult combination was having to flick it off the back of one hand, hit it with my head somehow, and also blow the die while it was in the air.  Or something like that - regardless, it was not a simple matter.)  Doing all of these goofy movements will definitely attract an audience - which may not be the thing you're looking for if you prefer not to be the center of attention!

Dungeon Fighter bullseye target for dice
Throw your dice here.  Easy, right?
The next pro for Dungeon Fighter is that, if you enjoy the game, then there is quite a bit of replayability.  There are several different heroes (9), a lot of monsters (53), and even a few different final monsters (4).  Add in the different pieces of armor and weapons, and you should wind up with different combinations of ways that you are forced to throw the die between any two games that you play.  (Granted, this is all assuming that you are good enough to get very far in the game.  If you die very quickly, then you might wind up just encountering the same green (easy) level monsters repeatedly - and may not even get far enough to buy any gear.)

Though the game has some fun elements to it, I found a few cons as well.  First, the game is incredibly hard - even on easy mode.  (At least to me.  Admittedly, this will differ between any two players.)  I have played this game a handful of times, and I have never beaten it.  Or gotten very close to defeating the final boss.  Or even fought the final boss.  And I have only played it on "easy!"  And I play a lot of dexterity games.  Granted, after the first play or so, I realized that one of the important things in Dungeon Fighter is to be almost on top of the board when you are playing.  Forget all of the things you've learned in other dexterity games about being a "respectable distance" away from the playing surface and such.  If you want to have any chance whatsoever in Dungeon Fighter, you will be throwing the dice from as close as humanly possible.  (I think that this is also why they added the rule about the die having to bounce before hitting the target - they were expecting people to be insanely close to the board.)

Dungeon Fighter hero cards
Some of the different heroes
The next con that I have for Dungeon Fighter is that there seems to be something "off" about the number of players.  The game really has a party game feel, where you want to have as many people involved as possible.  After all, a group will probably gather around you to watch you make a fool of yourself.  And, in fact, the game supports a respectable six players.  Yet, there are only three standard dice that you can use each round.  So, if you are playing with a lot of players, on any given monster several players will be completely at the mercy of the rest of their party when it comes to whether they will receive damage or not.  I felt like there should be some way of keeping more people involved throughout the game.

The third con that I had for Dungeon Fighter was that the iconography was not very intuitive, and so you often find yourself looking up what various things mean (more so on powers than on different die throwing requirements).  Whereas this isn't really a big deal in most games, one of Dungeon Fighter's appeals is that it is a game that is very quick to teach and to learn - thus you can get people involved very quickly.  Yet, with the iconography causing confusion, it impedes that ability to learn it quickly.

The final con that I will found when playing Dungeon Fighter is that the game grows stale fairly quickly.  This will depend highly on your group, but in the different groups I have played with, there was not much desire to play it repeatedly.  Yes, there was some initial excitement when the game came out, and different people wanted to try throwing the dice (because, naturally, they assumed that they would be amazing at it).  However, pretty quickly people's interest waned - sometimes even before they had finished their first game!  I think that Dungeon Fighter is a very interesting concept, but it feels a bit more like a gimmick than anything else.

Overall, I give Dungeon Fighter a 7.0/10 (I debated giving it anywhere from an 6.0-8.0).  Whereas I don't really mind the gameplay, I felt like the game didn't keep me as actively engaged as I would have liked, and I was very disappointed by how quickly the game felt stale.

If you like dexterity games, you should also check out Toc Toc Woodman, Tumblin Dice, and Micro Mutants Evolution.

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