|System: PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Hudson Soft||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Hudson Soft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 12, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Joseph Catalanotto
RPGs are certainly one of the most venerable video game genres ever. And with something so old, you've really got to work hard toward ensuring it doesn't die. Thankfully, RPGs have had some pretty excellent taking-care-of from various different franchises who are excellent at developing the genre to give players what they really want. Other titles in the genre, however, kind of seem to be stuck in the past.
And sadly, Dungeon Explorer: Warrior of the Ancient Arts is one of those games. It is easily one of the simplest, straight-up RPGs I've ever played. And that's not a good thing. Compared to other role-playing titles on the DS -- Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time as well as the cult classic LostMagic come readily to mind -- Dungeon Explorer just doesn't have a lot of interesting content to offer. And while what it does, it does well, I'd have a tough time really encouraging people to get out and purchase this title.
Dungeon Explorer, in a nutshell, is a hack-and-slash RPG. And sadly, this game isn't much more than a "nutshell." Usually when people use this expression, they're trying to sum something up -- to give a synopsis. But hack-and-slash and RPG are two terms that perfectly -- and completely -- describe Dungeon Warrior. You equip your characters with weapons, armor, and other accessories, and then go out and explore tons of different areas. Temples, dungeons, caves, and other such locales are pretty much all too expected -- there's not much variation at all in terms of where you play the game.
The titular "arts" of the game refer to magic, which is the second aspect of combat to take advantage of in Dungeon Explorer. Additionally, each character has some special abilities which can be utilized in battle. These are all fun to use, as is regular old attacking. The battle mechanic certainly isn't the problem here, because while not fresh or innovative, it works. What doesn't work, however, is the in-your-face monotony from which the game suffers after a few fun albeit brief hours with this title.
There are more than ten hours of gameplay to be had with Dungeon Explorer, but most of them may be wasted due to the fact that you've set this game aside after realizing that you've experienced everything the game has to offer in just a few short hours. The exploring concept is fun at first, but then the title just starts recycling everything and expects you to have fun doing everything multiple times. Enemies are constantly respawning, and much of dungeon "exploration" simply involves finding the generator and shutting it off only to find out that there are another three you've got to get before progressing. It's monotonous; it's tedious; and after a while it just becomes a really boring button masher.
There are other problems with the game as well; the characters come first to mind. While they're the focus of a plot that's actually better than I would have expected (though by no means a "good" story arc), the character customization that is often a big part of great role playing titles is conspicuously absent in Dungeon Explorer. Sure, you gain experience and up your stats, but there's no choosing class or specific specializations, nor is there even the option to choose among distinctly different characters at the game. You've got to accept what the game gives you, and it's pretty much a carbon copy of your generic, standard, boring RPG.