Cody “Micajah” Bye, Managing Editor
Just over a year ago, I got the notion to download NCsoft’s style="font-style: italic;">Dungeon Runners.
Advertised as “a free to play MMOG that doesn’t
Runners definitely got my attention with their
tongue-in-cheek attitude and obvious parody of the MMOG genre. After a
thorough play session, href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/8411">I deemed that style="font-style: italic;">
Dungeon Runners was a great game but a number of
elements detracted from the overall enjoyment of the title, including
the vast array of unequipable items by non-members and lackluster
Since that time, the team at NCsoft has truly embraced their free to
play MMOG and are setting a swift course for amazing success with their
dungeon-delving free to play game. Not only have they opened up a
number of the items in the title to non-members via their
in-game ad program, but they’ve also gone ahead and released
a retail box of Dungeon
Runners, which seems to be selling remarkably well.
A photo of the
Dungeon Runners retail box.
Priced at only $20, the retail box version of
style="font-style: italic;">Dungeon Runners
like an absolute steal. Yes, you heard that right - the $20 boxed
version of a free to play game is a style="font-style: italic;">steal.
With a six month
membership included with the purchase of the retail game, players
essentially get $30 worth of game time for only $20. For most gamers,
paying $5 a month isn’t an extreme investment, yet the
retail copy of Dungeon Runners drops this price point even lower. On
top of that, the retail version of
Dungeon Runners also comes complete
with the obnoxiously cute Bling Gnome, a creature that can save you
precious minutes during your dungeon questing.
But is all this worth the price of $20? To answer this question, I
jumped back into the game after nabbing a copy of the retail version of
the title. Would the game truly be a better experience post-retail? Was
the membership worth it? Would the fabled Ten Ton Hammer finally fall
into my hot little hands?
After reinstalling the game onto my recently upgraded computer, I
flipped through the DR retail instruction manual to see if there were
any secret tricks to upgrading my account to the retail version of the
game. Luckily, NCsoft didn’t feel the need to require
previous Dungeon Runners to open a brand new account to add the six
months of play time and the Bling Gnome to their account. With a smile
on my face, I plugged my NCsoft account information back into the
log-in screen and popped in the serial code. A few seconds later, my
account was upgraded – I was a premium member of Dungeon
Runners complete with my very own Bling Gnome!
In Dungeon Runners you can actually wield the Ten Ton Hammer!
But what does that mean? First, one of my major complaints in
original review of Dungeon
Runners was the inability to get many of the
“premium member” only items in the game. As a free
to play gamer, you can only equip a certain percentage of the items
within Dungeon Runners, which severely limits the overall enjoyment you
can get from the title. Dungeon
Runners is extremely item-centric and
if you don’t have access to the best of the best, it really
feels like a downer in-game.
With the $20 retail pack, the NCsoft developers have made it extremely
affordable to got a membership package and therefore get every single
item available int he game. With a monthly cost of $3.34,
almost any gamer should be able to dole out the cash they need to get
their online gaming fix. Honestly, that’s less then renting a
movie from Blockbuster or buying a gallon of gas. If the price gets any
lower, NCsoft will be paying us for their content.
On top of this great price reduction, NCsoft has made some tremendous
improvements to the graphics, sounds, and gameplay mechanics in style="font-style: italic;">Dungeon
Runners. Instead of point-and-click movement being the
has opted to use a WASD movement options with mouse-clicking to attack.
This option is much more MMORPG friendly, and the only issue
I’ve had with control options is accidentally picking up
items, which is a nuisance when you throw the Bling Gnome into the mix.
While the pricing and upgrades are great features for style="font-style: italic;">Dungeon Runners,
I wasn’t overly thrilled with the Bling Gnome. For those of
you that are unfamiliar with the Gnome, it’s important to
explain what he does in the game. Rather than forcing players to
constantly go back to town to sell their hard-earned goods (ala the
Diablo games), the DR team has opted to give retail purchasers a
“Bling Gnome” that converts their items into gold.
He also picks up random gold lying on the ground, which keeps players
focused on the gameplay portions of the title.
The Bling Gnome craps
out gold for the players.
Although his functionality works and does reduce some down time, the
Bling Gnome does have a few problems. As I was saying earlier, with the
new control system I often find myself grabbing random items that are
dropped on the ground mid-battle. Without the Bling Gnome, this
wasn’t a problem and I’d simply click again to drop
it while actively swinging my sword. However, if accidentally pick up
any items, the Bling Gnome’s gold-eating ways are negated.
Due to some construction of the game’s code, players
aren’t allowed to pick up any items that they want the Gnome
to convert into gold. Players also can’t drop items from
their inventory for quick gold conversions, which is really frustrating
for players that only want to quickly assess the stats on their new
All in all, the Dungeon
Runners retail package is a great value. In the
past, I stated that Dungeon Runners was the sleeper hit of 2007, and I
still think that’s true. However, with the retail box the
NCsoft team has a chance to really take style="font-style: italic;">Dungeon Runners to
level. If players continue to join the game in swarms through the boxed
version, I can see NCsoft employing this strategy on all of their
upcoming titles in the future. While I unfortunately still haven't come
across the fabled Ten Ton Hammer (whish is a fabled, rainbow-colored
weapon), you can read all about the in-game hammer by href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/21198" target="_blank">clicking
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