Dungeon Explorer

Turbo Grafx

Review by Doug Jackson



Graphics: 9

Sound: 9

Gameplay: 9.5

Overall: 9


Dungeon Explorer for the TG-16 may be one of the most memorable games the console ever received in the states. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, this is an action RPG very similar to Gauntlet with doses of Secret Of Mana and Zelda. You start a quest and pick a class of character, anything from the standard array of knights, monks, bards, elves, gnomes, and more. You are given the quest by the King to destroy the evil in the land and restore peace.

dungeonexplorer1.gif (15031 bytes)You start out on your quest and have to find dungeons. There are generators which constantly spawn enemies. Destroying the generator is the only way to stop the enemies (hence the heavy influence of Gauntlet). The villagers will give you clues as to where to go and which boss is terrorizing the land.

Once you enter a dungeon, it's your goal to hack and slash your way to the boss while taking as little damage as possible. There is plenty of strategy and tricks to implement to avoid being dinner for the droves of enemies, especially with multiplayer.

Two or more players can take turns covering for each other. There are several items along the way to temporarily boost stats. Unfortunately, other than the stat booster after each boss, nothing permanently affects the player. There are absolutely no items to find which is one of the minor complaints. One major complaint is that there is no way to gain experience whatsoever other than defeating the bosses in each dungeon. Each boss drops a crystal that changes colors every few seconds. Depending which color it is when collected determines which stat will be permanently boosted (besides hit points).

The game play is in-depth and varied. There are at least a dozen dungeons and castles to explore. This is a title just right in length, ranging from around three to five hours in completion time.

There are a ton of characters to select from in the beginning and on top of that there are two secret characters that can be obtained depending on how you play the game. Both are unique and have high ranking stats. Bosses have variety in their attacks, though most are very predictable and aren't very hard to beat if you enter with all five available lives. Despite some areas that are lacking, the game play is exceptional and will keep you coming back for more, partially due to the excellent layout of the maps and dungeons.

RPG lovers will adore this game for the music. All but a few tunes will have you humming along with them and will be stuck in your head for hours. The music is one of the reasons this game is as good as it is. Almost every dungeon and new area that has its own theme.

Graphics are excellent as well, although the environments can be bland in spots. The character sprites are exceptionally well drawn and the color in the game is varied. The console benefits the title for its ability to have five players and around 40 enemies on screen at once. It's always flicker free. It's definitely amazing to behold as not even the Genesis and SNES can handle this. Bosses are rightfully intimidating.

Most love this game for its multi-player action. With two or three players, the mechanics work perfectly, though solo players benefit as well. The biggest problem is that the beginning of the game is not easy to navigate with so many people on the screen. Passageways are narrow and only one person will be able to walk through at a time.

Many times players will end up taking turns attacking enemies since there isn't enough room for everyone to attack at once. Top that with having to share experience and decide who'll pickup the power-ups and it becomes frustrating. You have to share lives with only five total. With five players, that's just brutal.

Every time you restart the game, each friend will have to take a password down and re-enter it again. NEC could have had each continue without doing that. Needless to say, playing with several gamers will require a lot of cooperation and teamwork as well as backtracking and restarting. With only two players, each can take turns with enemies and devise strategies impossible to one player. Anymore and it becomes a crowded frenzy.

Even with its flaws, it has more than enough notable points to make up for it. This is easily an unsung classic. Every Turbo Grafx 16 owner needs a copy of this common game in their collection. Most know of this game and its brilliance for a reason.


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Last updated: Monday, January 29, 2007 10:45 PM