game Cover
game HuCard
ダンジョン エクスプローラー
©1989 Hudson Soft
©1989 Atlus
Release : 1989-03-04 (¥5800)
HuCard (3 Mbits) HC63015
Role playing / Action game

American Version
Released in America as
( TGX030006 )
Dungeon Explorer is an overhead action adventure game developed by Atlus and published by Hudson Soft. The adventure takes place in the strange land of Cornelia (aka Oddesia) in the midst of a war between humans and a race of malevolent creatures. Evil monsters rule the country and the player is sent on a perilous mission to retrieve the Ora stone, a powerful magical artifact crafted centuries ago and capable of bringing peace back to the land. But the stone was buried deep beneath the surface, hidden away within fourteen ancient underground caverns and dungeons, all guarded by terrifying creatures. The player must first pick a character from a list of eight races/classes (Fighter, Thief, Warlock, Witch, Bard, Bishop, Elf and Dwarf). Each warrior comes with a projectile weapon and a set of four different attributes that affect his strength, magic powers and ability to move. Magic also plays an important role in the game and players have two kinds of spells at their disposal - white (defensive) and black (offensive). Although Dungeon Explorer features very mild RPG elements, it is essentially linear and split into two main action phases. The overhead world gives players the opportunity to talk to villagers, gather information and fight respawning enemies, whereas dungeons feature meaner foes, deadly traps and players have to eventually defeat a boss in order to collect a power crystal, and increase their characters' stats and maximum health. At the end of each dungeon (or upon death), a password is given to the player to save his progress. Interestingly, Dungeon Explorer features a multi-player option with support for as many as five players at once !
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Dungeon Explorer Dungeon Explorer is a little known and short series by Atlus and Hudson Soft, which started on the PC Engine system in 1989. The first installment (version tested here) featured a single player and multiplayer gameplay. The latter option was extremely innovative for the time (especially for a home system), and allowed up to five players to play simultaneously. A sequel, called Dungeon Explorer II , followed in 1993 for the PC Engine Super CD Rom system. Interestingly, the game had several new features that enhanced the game without compromising the original formula. As a side note, the sequel was also ported to the Super Famicom system in 1995 - Crystal Beans From Dungeon Explorer, as it was called, was heavily edited and the characters redrawn to look more chibi/cartoony (style widely used in 1990s Japanese RPGs). A Sega CD version of Dungeon Explorer was released in 1994. However, the game was developed by Westone and features a drastically different design and gameplay, and can be better described as a straigtforward Gauntlet clone. The series was revived in 2007 with the average Dungeon Explorer Meiyaku no Tobira (aka Dungeon Explorer: Warriors of the Ancient Arts) released for the Sony PSP, and Dungeon Explorer Jashin no Ryōiki (aka Dungeon Explorer Warriors of the Ancient Arts) released for the Nintendo DS.

Dungeon Explorer - American Turbografx 16 version The original Japanese version of Dungeon Explorer shows a couple of minor differences with the American Turbografx-16 release (picture on the left). The most obvious is the change of one of the character's name - the Dwarf from the Japanese game inexplicably became a Knome (with a glaring spelling mistake). The second hidden character also suffered from a spelling mistake, and the Hermit appears in the game as a 'Harmet' (however, it is spelt the same way in both versions). The final difference worth mentioning here is the atrocious cover art. Definitively another in the "what were they thinking?" series. I kind of get what they were going for here, but, please, don't ask your young nephew to draw it in order to save on production costs. And for what reason? it's beyond me, especially when an already cool Japanese art existed for the game, why not just reuse that one instead? That would have saved on production costs, and avoid making the American version of Dungeon Explorer look exceptionally lame.

Teaser text from the American version:
You, brave soldier, are the last hope of a once-peaceful Oddesia. Yours is a strange world full of magic, hidden dangers and potions. But you have powerful friends. Use them to recover the ORA Stone which was hidden from the conquering evil king, Natas. Deep within the ancient dungeons lies the Stone with powers of life, happiness. But where?

Japanese Soundtrack
Japanese Gamebook


Dungeon Explorer manual Dungeon Explorer American manual Advert
Click on picture to enlarge

Invincibility/Debug mode:
Enter DEBDE DEBDA as a password, then press Run and I. A "Password Error" message will appear, but just press II and pick a character.

This option gives you infinite hit points and maximum stats (be careful though, the Bard temporarily loses the invulnerability option when he uses his white magic). You can also walk through walls and access all the dungeons - to do so, enter any of the large round bushes located around the Axis castle at the beginning of the game.

Guided projectile weapons:
Enter HOMIN GAAAA as a password. A "Password Error" message will appear, but just press II and pick a character.
Dungeon Explorer - hidden characters Hidden characters:
There are two hidden and playable characters in the game. The Princess Aki is being held in a prison cell located right before the Baron Castle (third dungeon). The Hermit is a bit more complicated to unlock - you must play with the bard and reach at least 50 hit points. Then enter the house located at the east side of Axis Village. However, once you find those hidden characters, you can use a password to play as them.
JBBNJ HDCOG unlocks Princess Aki and IMGAJ MDPAI unlocks the hermit.

Power Crystal's color:
This is not really a secret per se, but the crystals awarded to the players after defeating a boss cycle through different colors, and each color corresponds to a specific attribute upgrade: Agility (yellow), Attack (blue), Strength (purple) and Intelligence (green)

Add your Pov here !

Dungeon Explorer is an incredibly deep and multifaceted action/adventure game. Many players draw a comparison to Atari's Gauntlet - but although both games feature a multi-player option and monster generators, I think that Dungeon Explorer has a lot more in store with a pinch of Zelda thrown in. It has a decent storyline, players get to interact with villagers in the overworld (which glues the whole game together) and characters can be upgraded and customized as the game progresses. Despite the fun gameplay, the game does seem lacking when it comes to visuals - I've never been a big fan of the regular and distinct visible patterns created by the dark background graphics. But, to be fair, Dungeon Explorer was an early PC Engine game, and in that regard, the graphics are somewhat decent. The password system is also a bit cumbersome and I wish you didn't have to start again from Axis Village each time you die. All in all, Dungeon Explorer is a wonderful game (even to this day) with an unique multi-player mode, a fairly large world to explore, and a solid and fun gameplay.

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