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CONSOLE: Wonderswan DEVELOPER: PlatineDispositif PUBLISHER: Qute
RELEASE DATE (JP): May 31, 2004 GENRE: Action RPG
// review by SoyBomb

Makes mediocre julienne fries.

This is going to be an unusual review to write because I've never come across a game that ends in a period until now. So whenever I mention Dicing Knight., people may assume I'm finishing a sentence when, in fact, I'm just saying the game's name. Plus, if it IS the end of the sentence, it will look very odd when I mention Dicing Knight.. See these two periods? This is punctuation gone awry. I could always add an extra period to make an ellipsis so that it looks aesthetically pleasing. Well, actually, I'd have to add TWO periods.

Dicing Knight. came as the result of a WonderSwan programming contest held in 2004 whereby individual programmers could use the WonderWitch development kit to create their own games. The WonderWitch project was overseen by Qute, a video game company in Japan still active today. This particular entry, submitted by "PlatineDispositif" (what?), must have won over more than a few cute — er, I mean, Qute employees because they opted to publish it, despite the WonderSwan uttering its final WonderSwansong around this time. It's too bad they didn't do any bug testing or tweaking, as this game is far from a winner.

Where do I begin? How about the lack of an introductory sequence or story? With a title like "Dicing Knight.", I need more information! Who is this knight? Why is she dicing? Is she preparing a goulash? Will there be a test of my julienning skills? We really get nothing to work off of here, and in 2004, there's no excuse for simply throwing us into a game without any knowledge or motivation. Well, it turns out that this "dicing" has nothing to do with choppery and instead refers to the art of tossing die. As in, "DIE, KNIGHT, DIE!!" Okay, not really.

Dicing Knight. focuses on nothing but its combat, and that mechanic is a combination of quirky and wonky. Yes. it's "qwonky". As the great Fast Eddie once rapped in 1988, "It's time to get qwonky to this cut so scream..." And scream we do. Inside a randomly generated dungeon, you must fight your way through a Zelda-style maze full of crusty cuddly baddies by swinging your large sword a full 270° around. More often than not, you'll probably take a bit of damage yourself because the combat is so close-quarters and the hit detection was co-developed with ..... Luckily, you've also got a nice shield to hold up, courtesy of the B button. Use it to deflect magic thrown your way and there's a chance you will survive. Well, maybe.

So where does the "dicing" come in? Well, here's the scoop: whenever you hit an enemy, some dice will fly out, and whatever is rolled, that's the damage dealt. The same is true if you get injured; fallen dice will determine your fate. Dicing Knight. is a game of chance, and every swipe of the sword is a gamble. And gambling is wrong. It tears apart marriages, ruins families, and bankrupts perfectly well-off individuals. But it DOES kill fire-horking monsters, and for that, we can accept it.


Fighting in the name of consistent injury.

Our heroic heroine also gets to pick up and eventually use items dropped by enemies using the second directional pad on the WonderSwan. Health potions (probably my personal favourite drop), invincibility potions, a dice drop preview item (what will come next?), and even the key to get to the next floor all can take a place in your inventory. The problem is, you only have space for four items. And you can't stack up the same type of item, either, so three potions will take up 75% of the space. Each item is allocated to an arrow button, and by picking up a new item, you use the old one you had in that space. Your quest becomes an effort in frugality, and it really feels limiting.

Add to that a constantly decreasing hunger meter, fillable only with onigiri that are dropped so rarely you'd think there's a rice famine. When the hunger meter reaches zero, your health meter begins to drop in place of that. Everything is working against you, and this is especially apparent during boss battles that are excruciatingly difficult. Even the first one pits you against three forms of a boss that is practically impossible without gaining some divine powers prior to entering the room. At least you can restart your game on the last floor you visited. There's mercy in that PlatineDispositif.

Oh, and did I mention that there's a severe programming flaw in this game? If you even THINK about pausing for a pee break, think again. The "resume" screen has a nasty programming bug that essentially amps up the framerate of the game. Subsequent pauses will further increase the framerate until the game becomes unplayable. Yeah, that's a bit of a problem.

If it's any consolation, the game is cute with all the little characters running around, reminiscent of a visually upgraded Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. It's too bad the audio isn't anything particularly exciting — repetitive is probably the more apt descriptor. I suppose that's what you get when this is basically a homebrew title... developed by just one person... who is likely more of a programmer than a composer...

Dicing Knight. is a bit of a bold concept, but the risks didn't quite pay off due to a few flaws in design and execution. Also, putting a period at the end of your game title doesn't make you cool, period.


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