NEC were new to North American gaming, that was evidenced no better than in the story for Dungeon Explorer- a launch title. Players that bought this game based on title alone were not too far off from what they would get in the game, there are dungeons to explore. NEC really covered the bases with their launch titles with this psuedo role playing game that was also five player simultaneous (if you purchased the optional TurboTap and extra controllers).
The gameplay of Dungeon Explorer is a little less frantic than that of Gauntlet thanks to the towns, character stats and leveling up of your character. Sega had nothing even remotely similar to offer gamers but NEC didn’t have the advertising budget to exploit this advantage- instead they were too busy pushing China Warrior (another launch title). Chalk this up to NEC not understanding the North American market, at least I hope that is what it was.
Dungeon Explorer was one of those “under the radar” releases that many gamers didn’t learn about right away. Word of mouth, in particular, helped sell this action RPG, not NEC’s marketing genius’s.
Dungeon Explorer II, a direct sequel, hit the Super CD-ROM attachment for the Turbo Grafx-16. The original game is available on TurboChip (Amazon/Ebay) and on the Nintendo Wii Virtual Console. Gamers in Japan got it on the Playstation Network also.