Preview: Dungeon Fighter Online (PC)

One of the biggest arcade hits we never got to see in console form in the United States was Capcom’s Dungeons & Dragons brawler series. Even though Japan received a Sega Saturn release, the titles never made it into U.S. homes, but this year Nexon America Inc. will be looking to offer a free online PC game that will bring fantasy brawling back into the spotlight.

The original Asian title Dungeon & Fighter, developed by Neople, will be receiving the domestication treatment as Nexon aims to roll-out the title on our shores under the title Dungeon Fighter Online some time in 2009. The title takes the side-scrolling beat “Ëœem up titles that swept arcades in the “Ëœ90s and injects fantasy role-playing elements and themes, similar to the vein of popular titles such as Knights of Round or D&D: Shadow Over Mystara/Tower of Doom. The title gives players a choice between five different fighting classes, each with differing strengths and styles, and allows players to beef them up through experience levels. As the characters reach certain levels, they can branch off and evolve into more powerful classes as chosen by the player. Characters are further aided by customizable armor, clothing, pets, skills and weapons that players can purchase from an in-game shop.

As with all Nexon titles, the game is free to play and players can tackle dungeons as a solo effort or link up with others online to form multiplayer parties in exclusive dungeons. For those who can’t deal with playing nice with others, a player-versus-player mode will also be implemented into the title.

From the outset, players can start out as a slayer, fighter, gunner, mage or priest. Slayers are powerful swordsmen that can power up into blade master, soul bender, berserker or asura forms. Fighters are masters of hand-to-hand combat with a set of strikes and holds and can evolve into a nen master, striker, brawler or grappler. Gunners, as the name suggests, are long-range characters with assortments of firearms and can turn into a ranger, launcher, mechanic or spitfire. Mages are offensive magic users and can eventually become an elementalist, summoner, witch or battle mage. Finally, priests exhibit decent hand-to-hand combat along with the ability to cast assist magic and can become crusaders, monks or exorcists. To evolve into more powerful characters, the player must take a class to level 18 and when players reach level 48, the character achieves an even more powerful class.

Right now players will have to remain a bit patient as no exact date or time frame being announced for the U.S. release of Dungeon Fighter Online. However, there are players who have worked their way into the overseas release and user comments are generating quite a bit of buzz over the game. Character demonstrations have also been made available and more screen shots and videos are available on the game’s official Web page.

Personally, I’ve been able to dabble a little in the downloadable “mini” version featuring the fighter taking on waves of enemies and, yes, the game has all of the workings to bring the “Ëœ90s back with a solid beat “Ëœem up title. The excellent sprite work will take your eyes back in time as the demonstration places you in an expansive tavern against various types of goblins, minotaurs and other monstrosities. If all of the music in the game matches the quality of rock track featured in downloadable, players will have quality music that drives the action forward. The mini version obviously isn’t a full taste, but players can switch out to have the fighter equipped with bare fists, tonfa or daggers and special maneuvers such as energy blasts, suplexes and uppercuts enable players to deal a lot of damage with combos and juggles that appear to award players style points in the full version. So far, Dungeon Fighter Online has the look and feel of games from that time down and all of the extra online elements can only take the genre further.

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