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Old 10-11-2003, 12:29 PM   #302
Deal with it.
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,550

Dungeon Explorer II - TurboDuo/PC Engine Super CD - Rating 7
I don't understand people, particularly people that work at game magazines. When TurboGrafx came out alongside Sega Genesis it got comprehensive coverage and some great reviews. And then along came Super NES and from thereon it was rocky mountain climbing for NEC. Not that they didn't have it coming to them; aside from Hudson Soft and Working Designs, few companies had faith in the system, and so you would've at least expected NEC to peruse the MASSIVE catalog of software available for PC Engine in Japan for possible US release consideration. And, to be honest, I expected game magazines to also be more vocal about the maltreatment of NEC towards a loyal fanbase, much of whom knew full well what great software they were missing out on. NEC/Hudson Soft seemed to care very little about that thing we call 'presentation'. Have you ever seen the US box cover art for the original Dungeon Explorer? Take a good hard look at it ~ Just one question: Who drew that? Or, more appropriately, who looked at that and gave it their approval? If there was ever a prize for crappiest box cover artwork, Dungeon Explorer would have to be included in the top ten. I can't imagine kids in a store seeing that and going "Wow! That game looks really awesome! Buy it for me mom!" And it's not just this game that suffers from this dreaded curse. Many other TurboGrafx games look just as terrible.
Why make such a fuss about something so seemingly trivial? Because with crap box cover art like that it's no suprise that NEC wasn't exactly giving Sega/Nintendo a run for their money. It DOES make a difference. Now, take a look at the cover art for Dungeon Explorer II (it's an ad but that's still the cover art) ~ Tell me that's not a full 180 degree turnaround. If NEC had advertised their games like this during their first couple of years in the US market (and brought over more of the great Japanese PC Engine games) they could've really given Sega and Nintendo a hard time. But they didn't.
Dungeon Explorer II is a great game that was overlooked by the sellouts at the game magazines at that time. In fact, because of their consistent habit of ranking on Turbo softs NEC felt reluctant to bring more great games over here. Now you know why I get on these idiots' asses for how they almost single-handedly RUINED NEC's chances in our market. Had games like DEII got the recognition it deserved, NEC would've pulled in more sales, and the system would've flourished. When you talk about games like Fatal Fury II, Street Fighter II Championship Edition, Dracula X, Ys IV, and just floods of RPGs, shooters, action titles and the like you're sure to turn more than a few heads your way. I suppose the point is open to debate since it never happened here. So, to all of you that are responsible for the eradication of NEC from our shores (and you know who you are) I'd just like to take a moment to thank you. Thank you for making those years all the less enjoyable. Thank you for practically ignoring the Japanese software. Thank you for all those supposedly intelligent essays on how gaming should be done, only to marginalize NEC while you would frolick around with all the glitzy new software which, mysteriously, was apparently only coming out for Sega and Nintendo consoles.
Thank you for making the gaming world a better place. You losers.
And so, onto the review. Dungeon Explorer II may not be the most graphically impressive feat nor offer the most complex gameplay, but it does have something lacking from even the most sophisticated software -- personality. It bears more than a passive resemblance to Gauntlet, but I'll go on record as saying that DEII is five times more enjoyable than any Gauntlet game I've ever played.
If you wait at the title screen, a cinema comes up showcasing all eight of the initially selectable characters: Liot the bard, Aldan the hunter, Sepia the thief, Sorn the priest, Dooze the dwarf, Feena the elf, Elfaim the wizard, and Alex the fighter. It also shows Natas going after the Ora Stone which contains enough power to destroy the world (why oh why does almost every villain seek to destroy the world!? ). The opening sequence is quite lengthy for a TurboCD game and is impressive not the least bit due to the fact that most every game's cinematics on those 16-bit CD systems were all done pixel-by-agonizing pixel. Afterwards, you start up the game, select your starting character (you and up to four friends can play together), and then the prologue continues with more to the cinema, including showing the final battle from DE. After that, it's off you go.
The first thing DE veterans will notice is that you can talk to anybody you want, unlike the original. The towns have a more RPG feel to them than before. But wait. The first DE only had one town with occassional housing scattered about the land. This one has actual towns (though they all look similar). You have four stats to your character: Agility, Attack, Power, and Intelligence, and all of them can be built up by obtaining the proper item or by obtaining the proper stones. Button II shoots your projectile weapon and with button I you can use either White Magic which puts a protective barrier around you for a limited time, or Black Magic which increases strength for a limited time (press select to switch between magics). You can choose to display your character's stats, level and HP, the 25 character password, or save at any time. That's pretty much all there is to game controls. Simple, yeah? That's what makes this game so enjoyable. There's a grim reaper in towns who you can play blackjack with to gain lives. You'll need them later on, trust me. There's also a bar in which you can restore your health and switch which character you want to control.
There's plenty of caverns, dungeons, and everything in-between throughout the game. Enemies act like they did in the original DE. They'll usually travel directly towards you, some throwing projectiles, some more sturdy than others, etc. The enemies mostly come from portals which can be destroyed. There's also booby traps and such scattered about such as spikes which shoot out of the ground and walls. There are various items scattered about the locations, such as boots of agility, ring of resistance, seed of life, and a reflector. There is no inventory per se, but when you acquire a stat-building power up it remains until you've lost. Bosses are plentiful and include a tree with a face on its bark that shoots leaves like boomerangs, a half-woman/half-lizard that shoots at you and teleports around the screen, a huge crab that charges towards you, and many more. There are cinemas which help add some spice to the story, which isn't anything too noteworthy. Whenever you make it to a new town you can always ask the strange robed character that resides in every town to warp you to any town you've previously encountered. Sometimes you'll rescue people who act as hidden characters you can play as (they each give you a password). There's even a robot as a hidden character!
The music is done by the JKD Sound Team which also worked on Ys and Dragon Slayer games. The music is varied and befitting, ranging from rocking dungeon themes to more ambient, serious stuff like you'd expect in a good RPG. Some of the music is done by the system's sound processor rather than CD and while it's decent stuff, it just isn't as good as the original DE music. At least the CD tracks rock. If you were one of the fortunate ones then you, like myself, own a copy of Hudson Game Music Collection as seen here ~ It contains various tracks from several Hudson Soft releases such as Dragon Slayer II, Riot City, and of course Dungeon Explorer II. It's quite good.
Overall, I recommend DEII to all of you that already have a TurboDuo/PC Engine Super CD. By its own merits it is a fun game and you as well as some friends can have some fun with the multi-player mode. Just don't go hogging all the items, ok? I don't recommend you rush out and purchase a TurboDuo just for this game though. Only buy one if you're interested in RPGs (mostly in Japanese), shooters, and old-school gaming that got overlooked in the US market.
I'll let you in on a personal observation. Most of the reviews I read are dissolute and try to sport savvy and hip rhetoric in order to brainwash you into buying this and that. They're always taking the offensive whenever somebody else makes a point fitted with some truth that they can't stand to face, such as "Why justify purchasing FFX-2 when it sucks and is the same game as FFX?" They'll usually come up with some stupid quip like "Because it's Final Fantasy, duh!" Is that right...? Is that why I should pay my money for a game (for its name)? Instead of actually telling you what, if anything, has actually been improved/added (in FFX-2's case, NOTHING) they act like the name and graphics are more than sufficient enough reasoning to justify the purchase. I'll tell you why they really do that; because they're all paid off. I'm making a plea to the few who'll hear me ~ don't support SquareEnix. Show them that they have to actually earn your money by making a good product rather than shelling out the same old bullsh*t every year just so they can cash in. Am I bitter? Why should'nt I be? I'm sick of constantly being told what to do by a bunch of nobody sell-outs that don't give a damn anymore about content and quality. Besides, they deserve something in return for helping to ruin NEC.
Perhaps Dungeon Explorer II doesn't have the glitz and the flash of a game like FFX-2, but at least when I play DEII I know that Hudson Soft worked hard to try and provide us with a good product. It's a more than worthy sequel to the original and that's far more than deserves to be said about FFX-2.

Last edited by Icarus4578; 04-02-2004 at 06:09 AM.
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