From 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.
It'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!