Deep Dungeon was developed by Hummingbird Soft and published through DOG. DOG, as best I understand it, was a group of Famicom Disk System programmers that banded together to publish Disk System games as a group. Square (of the Final Fantasy fame) was involved with DOG. Deep Dungeon is a Wizardry clone that came out in 1986, and it never came out in the US. However, King Mike translated it into English.
As games go, Deep Dungeon does not want to be an easy game. Early on, the only real way to gain levels is to go to the east, and head to a trash room to search for gold. There’s also weak enemies there, which allows you to level up. Unfortunately, the weak enemies may include a poisonous spider, which can quickly cut your run short. From King Mike’s comments, the other Deep Dungeon games included moves like unequipping your weapons after battle and things of that sort.
There’s basically two levels of difficulty in a Wizardry style game. There’s sort of “assume the game hates you and wants to trip you up” style combative difficulty where you have to understand how the game programmer wants to trip up the player, and there’s simply a high difficulty curve in progressing in the game. In Deep Dungeon, you can talk to explorers in the maze. The cursor when confronting them defaults to fight instead of speak. This is a sort of “tripping up the player” difficulty. A high difficulty curve can be seen in the fact that you need to spend a fair amount of time fighting slugs and spiders before you can do more than barely explore the dungeon. The town area in Deep Dungeon is actually unusually fair for a Wizardry clone. Your starting cash is enough to get a shield / sword / armor combo, and you can earn enough for a nap at the inn from just about any expedition into the dungeon.
As for the actual game when you play it, it’s tolerable. You could move more smoothly through the maze, but you can reverse directions fairly easily. You have a compass, and the maze in the first level is tolerable if you did not want to map it out. Battling is a fairly basic system, and if you ignore the “you really wanted to punch that explorer” fustration, it’s no worse than any number of other FDS games.
Most negatives about the game are due to the unfriendliness that pops up in Wizardry clones. The 3D system requires mapping or a good sense of space, but most clones have that problem. The game is difficult, but most of the clones are difficult. It doesn’t have much plot, and most of the clones have very little plot. The music is shrill and the graphics are simplistic. This is very common on the FDS.
I suppose the final conclusion on the game is that it doesn’t stand out from any number of Wizardry like games from that era. Since half of my love for Wizardry is in the music and the art, Deep Dungeon suffers in comparison to other clones.