Release Date: November 1989
Genre: Action Adventure
Rounding out the November TurboGrafx-16 releases is Dungeon Explorer. I thought I was going to classify this as an RPG, but in the end, I decided it’s an action adventure title, like Gauntlet. The land has been conquered by aliens and the only hope is collecting the ORA stone for the king. Beware, the alien king Natas is also on the hunt for the stone and will stop at nothing to get it first.
You begin the game by choosing how many of up to 5 players are present. Then you choose one of eight different character classes from Fighter, Thief, Warlock, Witch, Bard, Bishop, Elf, and Knome. Each character class has a weapon that is thrown and both a black and white magic that can be cast if you have a potion available. Magic ranges from buffs to heals to attacks. Potions drop relatively frequently, so using them when you need to is a smart thing to do.
I gave all the classes a whirl, but the Fighter was what I played through the game with. There are also two hidden classes. After a few areas, you’re given a password to play as the Princess. You can also enter a password to play as the Harmet. The internet tells me you can transform the Bard (who is pretty worthless) into the Harmet through normal gameplay. I was going to try it, but man… the Bard is bad with white magic that teleports you to the inn and black magic that changes the music.
The game is as simple as run through a dungeon to a boss, kill the boss, open up the next dungeon. There are enemy generators that will constantly spawn new baddies for you to kill. Despite seeing a level indicator, you don’t earn experience by killing enemies, so you don’t have to bother with them unless you’re trying to grind drops. There are stat boosting drops that appear both at set places in dungeons and randomly when you kill enemies. Don’t shoot these, because you can destroy them.
When you die, you’re given a password and can start again with a powered up character. Permanent powerups are earned after killing bosses. You can wait for the dropped gem to change colors to boost the stat you want. If you die, you lose all of your stocked up potions and any item boosts to your stats, so you’re going to want to do your best to stay alive. Running back to the inn will restore your life, giving you an option to heal.
The graphics are fine. There’s no flickering or stuttering, which I expect should be less of a problem as we move on from the NES.
The music is alright, but subdued. The sounds aren’t anything to write home about.
The first level is going to be difficult to get through, but once you get some hit points, the game is more survivable.
The level of difficulty feels just about right. I wonder how much easier having multiple players makes it.
Fun Factor: 2.5
I had an alright time, but it started to get repetitive near the end and the shock plot twist was foreseen from the beginning.
Overall Grade: 2.8
Dungeon Explorer earns a B. I came into it hoping for something more, but walked away satisfied from what it was.