The last two games in my collection that I will be covering this month are two titles that offer similar gameplay options to games available on the more popular NES but with a twist to differentiate themselves. It is very common in any artistic movement to play a game of monkey see, monkey do and in the artistic endeavor that is video gaming, developers and programmers are wise to create games similar to what is currently popular and selling to minimize risk. The TurboGrafx-16 was at its best when it was forging its own path with unique titles such as the Bonk series but knew in order to compete with NES, SNES and Genesis it had to also offer titles that gamers could identify with. The two games in this post start with the concept of familiarity but ultimately do forge their own path as well.
Bloody Wolf on the surface looks and feels like a Contra clone with a little bit of Heavy Barrel for good measure. It’s a side scrolling shooter where you control a mercenary out to rescue the President of the United States as well as any P.O.Ws you come across. You have a basic gun and can gain more powerful weapons as you progress. You are equipped with a life bar to assist your efforts which is a nice change of pace from the instant death of Contra. The boss fights are interesting and fun but can be difficult so you’ll need those continues until you master the various boss’s movements and identify their weaknesses. Just like a good platformer, it’s not too hard to make it overly frustrating and not too easy so you can breeze through the game. There is no password save feature so you’ll have to play it through in one sitting in order to finish it. I attempted to do this and put in a few hours, pausing here and there to do something else then coming back later that day to get through a couple more levels before pausing again. Unfortunately, the game glitched out about 3/4 of the way through so I gave up and haven’t tried beating again. I like Bloody Wolf a lot and while it’s not superior to Contra, the interesting level design, large unique boss battles and overall gameplay make it a winner in my book.
Dungeon Explorer is an interesting game that upon first inspection looks like a slightly graphically superior Gauntlet clone. The view is top down, you can select one of a variety of characters to take into battle such as a fighter, a thief, warlock, elf, witch, et.al. Alien monsters endlessly come out of the ground from generators that can be destroyed. These are all gameplay options pulled directly from Gauntlet. Where Dungeon Explorer veers off into its own territory is in the depth of the game. Unlike Gauntlet, you can increase your player’s attributes after defeating level bosses, equip a variety of magic and gain accessories which offer different power-ups for your player. The story is that you’re off to find a special stone that can restore peace and happiness in your kingdom which has been taken over by aliens that that now rule with terror and violence. This stone lies somewhere in the kingdom’s dangerous dungeons. You don’t spend your entire journey in dungeons in spite of the game’s title. There are overworld sections of the game you must traverse to get from dungeon to dungeon by talking to townsfolk and gaining weapons & accessories like any other RPG. This isn’t a turn-based title as all of your battles occur in top down mode. Dungeon Explorer was a TG-16 launch title and it looks the part. It’s not the prettiest game and has its issues. I haven’t spent a lot of time with this title, focusing more on my Games of the Week, so there may be more to uncover that might change my mind on Dungeon Explorer as being only a slightly above average action adventure title.
Currently in my collection:
Bloody Wolf – game, manual, case & box B+
Dungeon Explorer – game, manual, case B-