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Video Game / Dandy Dungeon

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Does this remind you of anything?
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Meet Yamada-kun. He's the typical Japanese salaryman: a 36-year-old loner who hates his job for a video game company and would rather stay at home to program his own game. When he gets fired by the chairman of the MegaCorp that owns the society he works for, he at least can pursue his dream of becoming a game designer, but life still looks pretty bad. His only ray of light is Maria-chan, the sweet, innocent schoolgirl who just moved next door... But what do we do with all this? Simple: Yamada will ask us to debug his own game, that is, play it. It starts off as pretty basic, but every time Yamada will implement new functions and items, mostly inspired by his own experiences and the wacky people around him.

Dandy Dungeon — Legend of Brave Yamada (that is both the name of the game itself and Yamada's own game) is a humorous, self-referential title by Onion Games, available for free for both iOS and Android. At its core, it is a puzzle game masquerading as an old-school RPG, where you still can find tons of weapons, armor and various items. This game grows more complex the more Yamada (and others) work on it, including a crafting system, randomly generating dungeons, an item shop and much more.

The add-on sequel, Dandy Dungeon II — The Phantom Bride, came out on June 29, 2017. This time the setting is modern-day Tokyo: Yamada will board the Yamanote line to reach several dungeons based on Tokyo's stations, in order to get information on Maria-chan's whereabouts. The new enemy is a bunch of bizarre freaks known as "Duperhumans". Also, collaborations with several big names also appear. Nobuo Uematsu, famed composer for Final Fantasy games, Zun of Touhou Project, the Thelonious Monkeys, composers for Moon: Remix RPG Adventure's soundtrack, and Memori Basic'n of MSX Basic'n fame.

The game ended service on December 20, 2018, with one last update that removed the online capability, thus making the item shop, several dungeons and features unavailable, but keeping the core game intact as long as it is still available on online stores. A Switch version has also been released on June 25, 2019 and a PC version was released on Steam on November 29 of the same year.

Has no relation to an Atari 8-bit dungeon crawler of the same title released in 1983.

I will channel these tropes into my video game:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The third game dungeon is this, combined with enemies and scenery inspired by Ancient Japan. The in-universe reason is that Yamada read on the 'net that several artifacts dating to the Tokugawa period were found underground near where he lives.
  • Aliens Steal Cattle: Seen in the "Maestro Nobiyo's Farm" dungeon. Destroying the cow carcasses will make an UFO appear.
  • Allegedly Free Game: A much better example than most. There are no ads and among the in-app purchases (when they were still available, of course) there's an item (the duck) that, when bought, basically gives unlimited energy to retry the game dungeons whenever you want.
  • Always Night: The window in Yamada's apartment always shows the moon outside. Perhaps he sleeps during the day and works on the game only at night?
  • Art Shift: Combined with Retraux. The 8-bit dungeon that can only be accessed by using a Rurarara Scroll, and even then you need either an Ice-All Scroll or a Momoze Scroll to traverse the sea and enter the proper dungeon. Being from the 8-bit era, the enemies there are all quite tough.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: The fourth dungeon. Yamada is inspired to make it after reading stories of a haunted house with possessed dolls and whatnot.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • and Ahoo! Japan.
    • The last dungeon features models of Empire Games' latest console: the Sego Friendesis.
  • Build Like an Egyptian: The Golden Pyramid, an optional super-hard dungeon implemented by Aja, full of very tough enemies but also great loot. To enter it Golden Keys are needed, which in turn are made of Golden Fragments.
  • But Thou Must!: You can't not accept Aja's suggestions to improve Yamada's game. He's a Super Programmer, after all.
  • Butt-Monkey: Yamada is a lonely salaryman who gets fired and humiliated by his boss at the start of the game, gets harassed by said boss' sons, is pestered by his wacky neighbors and generally is treated with no respect by everyone. When Maria gets kidnapped, however, he finally grows a pair and manages to stand for himself, rescue and marry her... until she gets kidnapped again.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Yamada's are "Bokyuun!" and "Arabesque!" (the latter is a term related to ballet)
    • Baibai's is "Bye-bye!"
  • Chest Monster: The game parts have both the usual treasure box mimics and a slime masquerading as a rice ball, a very important (actual) game item.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Yamada is well aware that pursuing someone half his age is bound to raise eyebrows at the very least, so he doesn't try and engage Maria-chan. Directly at least.
  • Dominatrix:
    • Komebitsu, one of Chairman Amanokiji's sons, is this. She works as a door-to-door saleslady of suspicious health-related products, but she loves whipping others into submission more than anything, as poor Yamada finds out. She also has a typical Noblewoman's Laugh. After meeting her, he puts her as a boss in the game.
    • Dandy Dungeon II introduces Amanokiji's wife. She's a S&M mistress with an army of bondage pigs. She's a tough boss, but with a friendly attitude and even congratulates Yamada when you beat her. After all she works for the pleasure of her love hotel's guests.
  • Dracula: The public domain Prince of darkness (as the in-game description puts it) is an uncommon enemy that is almost a Boss in Mook Clothing. He's fast, can warp, heal himself and other enemies and use ice magic; thankfully his health is low. Dracula's hat, suit and cape is also one of the sets Yamada can wear.
  • Evolving Title Screen: The title screen features Yamada and his buddy Yasu drunkenly stumbling in front of their apartment doors, with Maria-chan looking at them from her window. Every time you defeat a boss, each of them will join Yamada and Yasu with their alcoholic drink of choice. And when Amanokiji kidnaps Maria, the black hole he creates will always be visible in the sky until you beat him.
  • Foreshadowing: Komebitsu's description says she is the eldest daughter. Ayanokiji has a younger daughter: Maria.
  • Funny Foreigner: Aja the "Super Programmer" is an Indian man who embodies both the "snake charmer" and the "computer wizard" stereotypes of Indians.
  • Gag Nose: It might be the pixelated graphics of the game, but Maria has quite the long, pointy nose.
  • The Ghost: Yamada's mother. She sends him dungeon spells from abroad, and that's it. Humorously, the description of the game's official Twitter account says that she is in charge of it.
  • Harder Than Hard: Every dungeon has a sign before the entrance that says if it's Easy, Normal or Hard. The one before some of the rarer ones, like Golden Pyramid, just says "Scream".
  • Here We Go Again!: Yamada beats Amanokiji, frees Maria, marries her and is about to consummate the relationship, when the goons of a rival foreign corporation that just bought out Empire Games kidnap her. See you in Dandy Dungeon 2!
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: The battle against Ayanakoji at Chairman's Tower. You defeat one of his decoys, and then the real Ayanakoji shows up to freeze you repeatedly with ice magic until your HP run out.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Yamada thinks that, by putting in the game an expy of Maria and repeatedly having her saved by his own in-game avatar, she will fall for him in real life. However, given that several things in the game affect his real life and vice versa, he may be on to something...
  • Intentional Engrish for Funny: SKILL GET! FRAGMENT GET! etc. Most likely done to reference the infamous SHINE GET! from Super Mario Sunshine.
  • In the Hood: Every single enemy in the "Mage" class. Also the mysterious Man In Black who appears suddenly in Yamada's apartment when he's asleep and hacks his computer.
  • Japanese Delinquents: Pompadoblins (goblins with a pompadour) are based upon these, they are tough and attack by throwing empty cans. The additional dungeon "Heck Yeah High School", based on the stories of crime-filled Japanese high schools, is full of these and of other kinds of goblins, including nerds and bruisers. Not to mention the hot-blooded, fearsome principal.
  • King Mook: Several, for example Mimiqueen for mimics and Ghost Cat Boss for ghost cats.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Several of Yamada's costume sets are based upon characters from (mostly) Japanese popular culture, for example there's Sailor Yamada, Godzalla, Magical Girl Mechacha and so on.
  • Lethal Joke Item: The Flyswatter (and its evolution) may seem stupid and weak, but it has extremely high accuracy, meaning that it's very useful to defeat those enemies that only have a few HPs but insane defense or dodging stats, including the Gold enemies listed below.
  • Light Is Not Good: Angels are a low-level enemy whose description states they love "punking people" and who are part of the "Beast" category of enemies.
    • Another example would be the Holy Thelomon Castle. Nearly everything there has some kind of light theme, including the monkey enemies, the holy bananas you can find there, and The Holy Monkey God. However, those same monkeys are still monsters, and The Holy Monkey God is a boss that combines this trope with Dark Is Evil.
    • Yet another example is Arara, The Sun God, found in the Golden Pyramid. It may be doused in light, but it’s a very tough boss that will attack you on sight.
  • Mad Doctor: Baibai, Amanokiji's eldest son and the fourth boss, is a quack doctor who lives in a Western-style haunted house, wears a cape and has two tufts of hair that resemble horns. He's later revealed to make human clones and partake in organ trafficking.
  • Medium Blending: Before going to Maria's rescue, Yamada imagines what life with her would be, including having a son with her. The baby is a photograph of an actual baby.
  • Metal Slime: Gold variants of enemies (Slimes, Skeletons, Cockroaches) that are hard to hit, impervious to magic, and have the tendency to flee the battle.
  • The Muse: Maria-chan, who motivates Yamada to give his development campaign his all, just by existing.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Yamada strips down to his boxers whenever he needs to code his game, that is, always. He wears a suit and tie pretty much only in the game's beginning, when he is still an employee of Empire Games. His neighbor Bronson Kawada does the same.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Nobiyo Uematsu. He comes to Yamada's apartment to chastise him for plagiarizing his music in the "Dandy Dungeon" game, and then Yamada puts him in the game as a space-themed boss, with thinly-veiled Final Fantasy references.
    • The "Real Estate Tycoon Yamada" costume makes him look like Donald Trump.
  • One-Hit Kill: The guards in Demon Lord Palace are armed with guns that do 999 damage.
  • Otaku:
    • The apartment of one of Yamada's friends, Sato, is described as being stuffed with anime, manga and games, and smelling pretty bad. Sato at one point says he has no money for food because he needs to buy some magical girl Blu-Rays. He's also a thief.
    • Dandy Dungeon II has the otaku zombies in Akihabara. As in, literal undead otaku who attack by throwing books, CDs and computer parts at you. Don't get infected!
  • Play Every Day: Yamada cleans up his apartment every day. Not only he will find useful game items in the trash (just go with it), but he also takes note of the cleaning with Cleaning Stamps, and every few days there are milestones that will net him very rare items, including some gear that can't be found anywhere else.
  • Revive Kills Zombie: The mages will sometimes use Heal on other enemies, which destroys undead-type enemies. Yamada can do it by casting Magic Barrier and then use the Heal Scroll, which will be reflected onto the enemy.
  • Shout-Out: A good amount here and there.
    • The game's logo is based on the logo from Dragon Quest, the Japanese RPG. There are several more references to DQ, including the final boss: a wizard that turns into a dragon.
    • Yamada looks like Mario with bigger eyebrows, and the expy of Maria he puts in the game is basically Princess Peach. The familiar green pipes also make appearances.
    • The first block of dungeons, the Tower, has graphics reminiscent of the floors in The Tower of Druaga.
    • One of the first few dungeons Yamada codes for you is named Yamada The Wanderer. And it's a Roguelite.
    • Yamada at one point explains the rules behind riceballs and takes special care to clarify that they are not donuts.
    • When the life points of Yamada's avatar drop to zero, his costume will blow up leaving him dizzy and dressed only in his briefs, just like Sir Arthur when he loses hir armor. Thankfully Yamada doesn't become a skeleton. Also, the end sequence is identical to that game's intro sequence. Yamada and Maria are together at night in a grassy plain, and Yamada even has only his boxers on, just like Sir Arthur. Maria gets kidnapped by a flying monster and brought to an evil castle.
    • Asparaguster comes from Onion Games' earlier game Million Onion Hotel.
    • The "Middle King Yamada" costume set references Little King's Story.
    • At one point Yamada's monk friend asks directly the player to pray with him, in what could be a reference to EarthBound's final phase.
    • A spoiler from an early 80s video game: much like in The Portopia Serial Murder Case, "Yasu is the culprit". Yamada's friend Yasu turns out to be the mysterious Man in Black who hacks his computer and also the responsible for almost all of his misadventures. In this case Yasu is Amanokiji's illegitimate son and uses Yamada's game to make his family pay for what happened to him.
    • When you obtain the Panda Yamada outfit, the background has an image that replicates the were-bear transformation screen in Altered Beast (1988), only it's not a brown bear but black and white like a panda.
    • Another outfit is Ryu's white gi and the background image when you get it combines SFII's famous world map with its victory screens, featuring a manly, serious-looking Yamada and a bruised and bloody Bronson.
    • Principal Gobhachi from the "Heck Yeah High School" dungeon is likely a goblin parody of Principal Edajima Heihachi from Sakigake!! Otokojuku.
    • Another non-game reference is the Barrier scroll that conjures an octagonal barrier very similar to the AT Field.
  • Speaking Simlish: The characters' dialogue is made up of gibberish syllables that sound like they're speaking Japanese (or Hindi, in Aja's case).
  • Toilet Humor: Loading screens feature an image of Yamada on the toilet. Also the Turd Hat and Turd Staff item, and the Toilet Mimic.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Maria loves sweet potatoes, in all shapes and forms.
    • Yamada himself is quite fond of rice balls.
  • Underground Monkey: Pretty much parodied, with the insertion of increasingly more absurd and hilarious variants of the standard RPG enemies. For example farmer goblins, ninja skeletons, salarymen mummies, robot slimes and so on.
  • Wham Line:
    • Maria-chan is actually Amanokiji's youngest daughter and the heir to Empire Games' enormous fortune.
    • The end reveals that Yasu, Yamada's friend, is Amanokiji's illegitimate son and used Yamada's game as a means to make his father pay for what he's done. He's also the Post-Final Boss.
  • invoked Write Who You Know: The main idea of the game. Yamada puts everyone he knows as the human characters in his game: his Love Interest as the Damsel in Distress, his programmer neighbor as the exotic merchant, people who wronged him as bosses... Things take a turn for the strange when everything Yamada accomplishes in the game begins to effect the real world.

The sequel adds examples of:

  • All Your Powers Combined: Dark Mother.
  • Cat Girl: Mike-chin, the boss of Harajuku, is one of these. She's so obsessed with cats that she had cat ears and claws surgically implanted (that's not a cosplay!).
  • Cute Monster Girl: Several examples. The most prominent is the boss of Akihabara, the Blood Daughters: a trio of Idol Singer zombies (or vampires) with several magical powers under their poofy sleeves.
  • Dead Weight: The fat otaku zombies in Akihabara have lots of energy and a punch that lowers Yamada's attack power, making it even more difficult to defeat them.
  • Disco Dan: The boss of Takadanobaba, a wizard, is found at the last floor of an arcade and mentions that he's been playing arcade games since 1978 (the year Space Invaders came out). His most powerful attack involve several retro sprites appearing and attacking Yamada. Sure, in Japan arcades (or "game centers") never really disappeared, but this character seems to be obsessed with the "golden age" of arcade gaming.
  • Disc-One Final Dungeon: Tokyo. It's the last spot on the Yamanote map before the other members of Dark Solid's Dark Four appear, and you face Yasu as Bu Su Ya one last time.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After being dealt with so much anguish in trying to earn the love of Maria, with her being kidnapped twice, after beating Dark Aja, he finally saves Maria for good, and they can finally move on with their lives.
  • Elite Four: Dark Solid's Dark Four, consisting of Heavenly King Bu Su Ya, Doburoku, Tataribabaa, and Namazunda.
  • Evil Old Folks: Tataribabaa, of The Four. She is an old woman, and very definitely an evil one, as she kills many of the agents related to the search of Maria, scatters the Yamanote files, punishes Iwawi for losing against Yamada, and is the third Dark Solid boss Yamada fights.
  • Fusion Dance: Namazunda fuses with his own train to fight Yamada one last time.
  • Make Way for the New Villains: Dark Solid Games are leagues above Empire Games in the "evil" department, even absorbing them after the end of the first game and getting the mastermind behind the first game, Yasu, as one of their Elite Four.
  • Nonstandard Game Over: The Yamanote dungeons introduce the concept of Missions. This time to beat a level it is necessary not only to clear it, but also follow a task (e.g. don't heal, destroy all the trash, defeat enemies in a certain order...). Failing to do so gets an immediate Game Over.
  • One-Letter Name: All the characters that form the committee that investigates on Maria's disappearance, outside of Yamada and friends, have one-letter codenames, in a homage to both Men in Black and Death Note.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: 'Catastrophic Railway' is Train!Namazunda's leitmotif. It’s also an incredibly cheerful sounding song that wouldn’t be out of place in a children's show, which heavily contrasts with the downright demonic looking Train!Namazunda.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Dark Solid Tower. It's 12 floors long, The Hungry Questers and Empire Games comes to help you out on certain floors, and there are no missions hampering your progress.
    Mission: Give it your all!
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Despite beating Dark Mother and rescuing Maria, a remaining piece of it infects Aja and creates Dark Aja, who steals Maria's soul and flees into the Golden Pyramid.