|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|
The game also suffers in terms of presentation. The game's visuals are spotty, featuring decent framerates but boring sprites and a lack of real color or even nice animation. Things look pretty bare, and it seems as if the dev team just did enough to scrape by. The same goes for the music: as with most games, it's not bad, but it's also not really good. You'd lose nothing of the game experience by keeping the volume off, which is a pity with a game that has some potential but doesn't live up to it -- any positive aspects, however small, would have helped hugely in making Dungeon Explorer a more attractive package.
It's also a fairly easy game, and even those unfamiliar with the old-school hack-and-slash RPGs from which Dungeon Explorer obviously draws its inspiration should have no trouble succeeding at this game. In fact, the largest obstacle to completing this game is its repetition, not any enemy A.I. The vast majority of the uninspired foes you'll encounter just wander aimlessly around or even stand still, and those that do attack lack the resolve to do much more then sweep down and unleash a weak and easily avoidable/blockable attack. Clever combinations or attacking strategies are made useless by the fact that you can beat the game via mindless button-mashing.
Yet the game does feature some form of redemption, and it comes in the form of multiplayer. Specifically online multiplayer. In fact, were the multiplayer more fleshed-out, I'd be fine with recommending Dungeon Explorer specifically for the online gameplay. You use your party from the single-player mode, which dictates the necessity for playing through all ten plus monotonous hours. However, for those that can stomach it, a really fun online experience awaits. You team up with other people and work together smashing through a dungeon. Voice chat would have been nice, but it's still a lot of fun. And more importantly, all of the game's flaws: monotony, poor graphics and music, ease of play, and general generic boredom disappear -- or they're at least but to the background, and to the foreground comes some real fun playing this game as it was clearly meant to be played. Sadly, the brevity of the online stops it from really being great: there's only actually one dungeon online with only four floors. A map-maker seems ideal for this game, yet for whatever reason the developers left it out.
Overall, though, that's just not enough to keep Dungeon Explorer from tripping itself up with its own mediocrity. While no particular aspect of the game is downright terrible, there's just nothing I can really point to and say, "See, this part of the game is awesome!" If you're a fan of old-school action RPGs, then you might consider renting this title, but even to such people I wouldn't recommend a 30 dollar purchase. But the game has some real potential, and I for one am pulling for a more fleshed-out, smarter-developed sequel sometime in the future.
CCC Freelance Writer