Shiren The Wanderer

Game review by
Harold Goldberg, Common Sense Media
Shiren The Wanderer Game Poster Image
An engrossing RPG that's not quite different enough.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

This game presents some moral choices. For instance, in the first hour of play, you're asked to buy a rotting rice ball from some starving kids. You can choose to ignore them and act badly or to buy it and give them a few coins so they can eat. Truly, though, for most of the game, you, your ferret, and the Sensei are the heroes, saving the village from the horrors and the dragon within the local castle.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The Sensei is kind of cranky and he drinks too much. However, he is generally trying to do good. More moral is Shiren, the Wanderer, who, as a wanderer, has rules to live by, which are presented early in the game. For instance, wanderers are always supposed to help those who are weak. Shiren's ferret, while not that integral, is always ready to help, too. And so are many of the townspeople, who are freaked out by the goings on in the local castle.

Ease of Play

You can play this game fairly easily with either the Wii remote and Nunchuk or the old school controller attachment. RPGs are generally the most complex of the games to learn. That's because you have to choose the weapons with which you want to arm yourself, and the food you want to eat, and the herbs to help you heal, and the magic you want to wield. It's best to learn the controls before you proceed in the game. Look at the booklet which details the many controls.


In Shiren, the violence is never presented with blood. Rather, most of the turn-based swordplay is against not-so-scary monsters and smaller, annoying beasts, like mice. Killing is presented more in a flash of color, often yellow, than anything else. In death, there's no moaning, just the disappearing of the character.


There are suggestive themes and big-breasted anime characters. Sometimes, the cut scenes, full motion videos without gameplay, will focus in on covered parts of the female anatomy, like the butt or breasts. Some of the townspeople seem to want to marry you to their daughters. 


Within the few minutes of play, you'll hear a thug yell "bastard" and "ass." You'll also read "damn" in the dialogue. These are rarely presented as audio: mostly as text you have to read.  

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Many RPG's have references to boozing, and Shiren is no exception. In the first minute of play, your master, the Sensei, goes off to have a drink in a bar. Within the first 15 minutes, you're in that bar, too, and small fight breaks out when Sensei is interrupted from his drinking.  Sake is the drink of choice in the game. There are no references to smoking or to drugs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Shiren The Wanderer is generally a sweet role-playing game in which you are out to do good, not evil. There are some moral choices to be made, as when you choose whether or not help out the hungry. As cute as the anime characters are, they do spew some foul language. And there's some drinking involved, too, although it's not especially integral to gameplay or to the story.

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What's it about?

What was it like to live the adventurous life of a Wanderer in ancient Japan? In SHIREN THE WANDERER, you'll you'll travel through small villages, lush forests, and to a castle called Karakuri Mansion that's full of mystery and monsters. At the outset, you're given a strange carved stone key by Sensei, your uncle and master, which will help you out at the castle. As you speak to the townspeople, you'll see that some are frightened by what seems to be a curse emanated from Karakuri Mansion. One says you'll find gold there, while another says it has a headless ghosts. A grizzled old man says you'll find something far more valuable that gold -- if you dare to go there.

Is it any good?

In general, Shiren The Wanderer is a creditable game with lurid graphics and anime-style characters. Even its non-playable characters are rife with personality and have interesting things to tell you, not just about the game, but about the philosophy of life. However, you'll encounter language like 'bastard' and, as is often the case in RPGs, drinking and drunkenness. You can play the game with both the Wii remote and the old-fashioned controller attachments. And if you haven't played RPGs before, you'll do a lot of reading of text, healing yourself, and arming yourself with various weapons like swords and shields as you progress through the castle. As you make your a way, you can assemble a party of up to three characters, all of which you can control during battle.

While there's a delight in seeing this Japanese series brought to these shores, those who have a history of playing RPGs will see that there's not enough that's new and different here to warrant endless excitement. Still, when you meet the ghosts and characters like the cheeky Asuka, the girl warrior/wanderer, you'll definitely be compelled to continue. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Which of the three characters would you like to be, Shiren, Sensei, or the helpful ferret, Koppa? Why?

  • If you were immersed in this ancient Japanese fantasy world, where would you live, in the village or in the castle? Why?

  • Which of the controllers would you use, the old school pad or the Wii remote and nunchuk?

Game details

  • Platforms: Nintendo Wii
  • Price: $39.99
  • Available online? Not available online
  • Developer: Atlus
  • Release date: February 9, 2010
  • Genre: Role-Playing
  • ESRB rating: T for Alcohol Reference, Mild Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes
  • Last updated: August 31, 2016

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