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The Haunted Ruins

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Rating: 4.4/5 (109 votes)
Comments (33) | Views (9,290)

DoraThe Haunted RuinsFrom Taro Ito of Game Design.jp comes The Haunted Ruins, a retro rpg dungeon crawling experience so old school you need to be wearing pink leg warmers and remember the New Kids on the Block just to play it. Seems an evil witch (yes, this time it was some evil witches, or at least one) has caused a lot of trouble for the Tiny Fantasy Village du jour, and it's up to you to delve into the local ruins and sort it all out before the nasty creatures inside become too much of a problem. The game is played entirely with the mouse, which lets you interact with your surroundings and select various options. In the ruins, just click on the walls to turn and navigate, and move into monsters to attack with turn-based combat. As you defeat enemies, you'll gain experience and levels, and of course the almighty coin, which will let you purchase items back at the village. If you're lucky and thorough in your explorations, you could encounter a helpful mouse who'll give you some useful items, or a wizard who'll bestow a new spell upon you. Just keep an eye on your hit points; if you die, you'll lose half your cash and be warped back to town, but whenever you enter the ruins you'll pick right off at the second-to-last floor you explored.

I won't lie to you; The Haunted Ruins is retro. Like, really retro, and it's important you understand that before you play. This game thinks Shining Force and Ogre Battle are high-falutin'. The story is fairly straightforward RPG stuff, though it has a few surprises that get revealed as you play, so make sure you visit the town from time to time the as you progress. The biggest strike against the game, however, winds up being repetition, since you can go a long time without seeing much variation to your environment, and the deeper you go, the harder it can be to navigate on larger floors with the lack of a map. If you make it a point to fully explore each floor of the ruins and deal with every enemy, you'll probably be in good shape to deal with nearly everything that comes your way for a while, but past the 15th floor it feels like the brute force of the monsters spikes significantly, which might necessitate a bit too much backtracking and grinding for some players.

The Haunted RuinsIt's interesting that most of what we modern fancy-pants gamers see as issues were just par for the course back in the early baby-steps of RPGs the game is an homage to. While today it might be unthinkable to create a game where the player can't spend skill points upon leveling up, or have a story that doesn't have dialogue options between Y/N and fourteen love interests,, back in "The Day" that was just how things were done. Does this make The Haunted Ruins good or bad? Well... that's entirely dependent on you and whether you think a game made in 2011 needs to look and play like it was made within the last decade.

The Haunted Ruins is a lovingly crafted throwback to gaming as it used to be and is actually fairly addictive if you're just looking for something lighthearted. If dungeon crawling doesn't mean something dirty to you and the plinky-plunk of MIDI tracks are music to your ears, you'll want to spend some time in The Haunted Ruins, even if it does miss an opportunity for a "But thou must!" joke. Besides, if you're under twenty years old, this is practically a history lesson for you, so it's educational to boot!

Play The Haunted Ruins


cinder calhoun July 6, 2011 3:32 PM

This game would really benefit from keyboard input.


BIG hint to anyone playing

There's a link to a map at the bottom of the page.

Evergreen July 6, 2011 4:47 PM

I think this is just about perfect. I love the little monster sprites! The fireball wearing a helmet! The vase that walks! And the twists in the story are simple but interesting.

It doesn't even feel like much of a grind, since it's so short, and the balance seems just about right to me. The mummies felt slightly overpowered, but everything else could be taken down with the right combination of spells.

I did teleport back to town before a couple of bosses, just to be safe, but otherwise it was smooth sailing.

Love the music, through and through.

Anonymous July 6, 2011 4:56 PM

I'm stuck at floor 20 and there is no hint what I must do:

There's a dead end with a obvious crack on it, I tried clicking it but nothing happens.


This is a nice game; not too original but very well done in every respect.

Here's a complete monster list (provided by the credits), for anyone who wants to create a bestiary.

I've split up the list a bit, so that it doesn't spoil too much.

Evil Mouse
Ancient Bee
Magic Bat


Black Golem
Red Hattercrab


Dead Hatter


Ghost Knight
Paradise Crab



Anonymous July 6, 2011 5:21 PM

i'm stuck on the 15th level. both ladders go up. i assume i'm missing something, but i've gone through there many times looking for whatever i'm missing...

can someone give me a clue?

monkey22 July 6, 2011 5:45 PM

Really enjoyed this game.

Made me think of Azure Dreams, which was amazing

Only down point was the lack of metal, making the Blacksmith quite pointless.

Anonymous July 6, 2011 5:46 PM

heh. ok figured out 15... now 20 is giving me fits.

Anonymous July 6, 2011 5:50 PM

For level 15, the ladder you didn't go down from leads to another section of the upper level, then down into another section, just use it.

monkey22 July 6, 2011 5:52 PM

For 1st guest

Use a Bomb when in front of the crack

For 2nd Guest

You have to go back up to then continue further. Click on the Wizard under the tips and it'll show you the maps for all the levels

Really Enjoyed this game, reminded me of Azure Dreams on the PS1 which was an amazing game :D

Not much metal though making the Blacksmith pretty pointless

Anonymous July 6, 2011 7:06 PM

Wow, these guys put so much love and polish into this little game. Loved the music, and thought the ending was a wonderful touch. Just the right length to provide a modest challenge without getting too dull.

It really warms a cynical old game dev's heart to see fun little projects like this. Makes me want to dig out Wizardry and relive some memories.

Guthlaf July 6, 2011 7:58 PM

This reminds me so much of 'Dungeon Master' on the Commodore 64! (When was that? 25 years ago?)

Though Dungeon Master had grey walls (exactly like these ones) - and worse monster animation!

Loved that game....

Anonymous July 6, 2011 8:10 PM

It was a really fun game I enjoyed it. True, the blacksmith was pretty pointless since there was only two medal. Still fun though ^_^


It's not really all that old-school... in old-school games (at least the ones I played), if you said "No" you just got the same question over and over again until you said "Yes". You certainly didn't get new dialogue.

In all seriousness, though, it's a pretty enjoyable little game. I haven't finished, but I do have to agree about the difficulty ramping up - which isn't a bad thing. It's just that I got to dungeon level 9 or so without ever needing to use an item or go back up to the town, and then soon after that I suddenly had to worry about having enough healing and so on.

Not that I think it's too hard. I think actually it should get hard a little sooner. :D

@monkey22 - Either there's some randomization involved, or you missed something.

I found some metal in a chest.


Endgame spoilers

The Dark Orb

After getting through the last few confusing levels into level 33 follow the path to pick up the dark orb. If you keep going you will see a machine but there's nothing you can do with it now. Return to the surface.

The Witch

Go to the general store. I had to do this twice (I think I hadn't already triggered the first conversation) and the witch appears. Defeat the witch to get the stopperstone (or was it sopperstone?).

The Machine

Return to the ruins and continue back to the machine with the stopperstone to end the game.


EEEEE I LOVED THAT. HEART HEART HEART. So bite-sized and enjoyable!

The shortness of it does

cut down on the number of iron ores that seem to be available, so don't count on those weapon upgrades. Manage your leveling/healing/items/MP wisely.

Take note that it is possible to get a little lost in the really deep levels. There are some level forks, not many, but enough to get you a bit disoriented. (Or you could come to JIG and click on some spoiler tags...)

eureeka July 7, 2011 12:24 AM

Concerning the metal (Unless I missed any, but I explored the map extensively):

There are 4 pieces of metal.

I put it all into my sword.

I really liked the story with the general store wench. It got really comical seeing her gradual transformation.

Icalasari July 7, 2011 1:49 AM

Level 16 is great grinding :D Already level 20 and haven't gone to floor 18 yet :D

abloker July 7, 2011 3:24 AM

Mmmm, just like "Shining in the Darkness"

I love these games :D


Seriously? Am I the only one who has trouble with the font? All the letters are backwards!

I've made this comment before, but didn't get a response, but surely my set up isn't that unusual? Mac OS Leopard, Firefox 5 (but still happens in Safari).

It happens with some (but not all) Japanese games which leads me to believe it might be a font library I need? Or something? Pleeease, can anyone help?

[Now might be a good time to upgrade to Snow Leopard. I have a similar issue with Leopard in that the font gets cut off (screenshot). When tested on Snow Leopard, the font looks similar to the screenshot in the review (though even better, cause it's a Mac ;). -Jay]


Good times. I really need to go back to The Dark Spire sometime: it's very much like this game, though much bigger (and much nastier; if this is Super Mario Bros., then The Dark Spire is more I Wanna Be The Guy).


Why oh why didn't they include keyboard controls. The game would be 4x less clunky. And why does the game have to be like 200x200 pixels? Jesus. The guys who made it must still use 640x480.

Anonymous July 7, 2011 3:56 PM

Once I reached level 28 I spent a bit of time attacking the monsters, and kept leveling up so much that I barely had to heal and became nigh-invulnerable.
Do have a question.

After getting the Dark Orb, I refused to give/show it to the Witch and sshe attacked, does ssomething different happen if you do give/show it to her?


heh super awesome game , completed it before i find out there was a map :D

but i think it needs a sequel

saccades100 July 7, 2011 8:46 PM


The dialogue is different, but she still attacks you.

anonymous July 7, 2011 11:01 PM

Any idea as to defeating the witch? she has lots of hp and removes boost :(


I've only reached level 18 so far, but I'm LOVING this game in spite of/because of its simplicity. It really seems like there's a difficulty spike after level 15; I found myself burning through most of my meat supplies while up against level 16's bosses.

I'm especially loving seeing the

gradual transformation of the shopkeeper. It foreshadows the inevitable twist from a mile away, but it's terribly amusing to see. When I'm finished with this game, I'll probably go through it a second time just to take screenshots of each stage of the transformation. XD

Although boo at

the friendly mouse turning evil. Poor little guy. :(


To the guy having trouble with the witch, i'd recommend using Recov and attacking normally. Recov is the healing spell, if you didnt come across the wizard that gives it. Beat her at level 21 this way. And you can always keep leveling up if you need to.

Grant Thurston July 8, 2011 1:08 AM


I can't remember what level I was on, but I had 33 MP, and my shield was at 4. I simply attacked her over and over, and used Recover when my health got low. I suggest just going back to the ruins and leveling up some more if you still have issues/haven't upgraded your shield.

Icalasari July 8, 2011 11:24 PM

Well, I tried to get HP for each foe

They have variable HP =/ That doesn't help at all

LarryWashington July 9, 2011 1:51 AM

4.4/5 is way to high a rating for this game out of 69 votes.
I'm giving it one star to bring it back down to Earth. and because it is repetitive, unoriginal, simple and BORING. I have played Might & Magic and that was more than a decade ago. it still sucks. I like a good classic RPG anyday though, (Earthbound, FF, Chrono Trigger) but throw this one away.


Aaaahh finally I've finished the game much thanks to the hint by BLUEMOOSE19.
Hopefully the developer makes more of this kind of game.

Anonymous July 13, 2011 5:17 PM

Got to level 27 and Firefox 5 crashed. Recovered my session and chose 'continue' on the loading screen but had to start all over again!! (I had used the spiderthread many many times, so I had saved.) I was enjoying it until that point, but redoing all of that work is like fingernails on a chalkboard. Forget it.


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