Time again for another cursory look at a Turbografx-16 classic. I'm going quite far back this time with Atlus' 1989 Action RPG Dungeon Explorer, thought to be the first good Atlus game to be released in the West, thus begetting that long relationship of "man, I hope Atlus bothers to translate this game for us, it looks amazing" between us and them that persists to this day.
Dungeon Explorer, for the uninitiated, is a game that takes more than a leaf or two out of Atari's playbook, being as it focused on Gauntlet style, well, gauntlets against traps and enemy spawners. The player must descend into the depths of dungeons (exploring them, if you will) while trying to stay alive long enough through the many hordes of spawning enemies to reach a boss at the end and defeat it. Though players can collect items to boost their stats (strength, speed, defence and the like), they are only temporary and vanish once the player loses one of their finite lives: Only by defeating bosses (and the occasional mini-boss) can the player level up and earn permanent boosts to their health and stats.
That's the gist of it, but the TurboMento-12 is more than just words: You get pictures too! Nothing but the best in Web 1.0 presentation for my dear readers.
What Am I To Do With All These Dungeons?
...and I'm going to stop there. Because I don't want to spoil the game's ending? Nope, because the image limit has apparently been lowered from 25 to 20 on the new site without my knowledge. Great.
As for the game, well, I'm not entirely sure it's aged gracefully. It is a well-designed game for its era - the way the passwords and lives work give you something of a fighting chance, even if the game itself can be rather difficult at times. The levels aren't particularly different in terms of how you're supposed to progress through them (protip: find the damn stairs) but visually and musically there's quite a bit of variance. The bosses are the best part, which is why I elected to show them off instead of the dungeons leading up to them.
As for cheating one's way through the game: It's probably a huge disservice, considering how easier it makes everything, but the game would be far more ponderous without it. I mean, I died a lot. It's kind of inescapable. Really, it's a bit like Dark Souls in that you want to get far enough to do some damage before your inevitable demise so you won't have to backtrack quite so far the next time through.
Overall, if you keep in mind its age and want to see some classic-ass Atlus before they got way into Jack Frosts, young detectives and alien zombie cancer, I'd say try it out. It's available on the Wii Shop last I heard. Um, which of course I know because that's the legal version I totally have and I totally got all these screenshots from. Uh, hmm, it's such a nice day I think I'll go out the window.