My love for fiddly miniatures games is no secret. The more miniatures, the better. And bonus points if you get to chuck a lot of colorful custom dice across the table. Super Dungeon Explore by Soda Pop Miniatures / Ninja Division fits the bill perfectly, and it’s one I’ve had in my collection for a little while.
Super Dungeon Explore is essentially a dungeon crawl where each player takes the role of one (or more) chibi anime heroes, and another player takes the role of the Dark Consul (the bad guys). There is an “Arcade Mode” that makes the game entirely co-op by giving the Dark Consul some AI instead of requiring a person to control them; however, the one time I played the Arcade Mode, we quickly found ways to exploit the AI, and the game didn’t seem nearly as fun. So, if you’ve got an experienced player who’s willing to be the bad guys – I highly recommend playing this way. It’s more challenging for the heroes, and it’s a heck of a lot more fun for everyone.
One thing I absolutely love about Super Dungeon Explore is that it’s video game themed. Everything about it is reminiscent of the old 8 and 16 bit adventure games like Gauntlet and The Legend of Zelda. (The levels of monsters even reflect this, being called “8-bit” or “16-bit”.) “The Dark Consul” is even a nod to this theme: “Consul” being a play on the word “console” as in video game console, the idea being that the players are fighting against the computer; The maps are all identically square shaped, like rooms in an old school Zelda dungeon; The dice have little hearts and potions on them that “pop” out of the monsters when they’re killed; The minions spawn from spawn towers that must be destroyed; The bosses have a second mode that activates when they lose half their health. The design work on the cards features a control pad for movement and arcade buttons for actions; The “Caverns of Roxor” expansion is even a heavy nod to Super Mario Brothers with the Star Guild Sapper being Mario, Princess Ruby being Princess Peach, and the Rock Top Gang being koopa troopers. Really, everything about this game is a nod to classic video games. And I love it.
However, I haven’t seen as much love for this game in the community as I have for Arcadia Quest, but maybe that’s just my limited perspective. While I actually love both games, I find Super Dungeon Explore to be a little bit heavier of a game, and for that reason I’d recommend it to more serious dungeon crawlers (and leave Arcadia Quest for more casual gamers/gamers playing with their kids). Super Dungeon Explore is the one I prefer to bust out more often because there’s a bit more strategy involved and more fiddly tokens and markers to keep track of, and I think the PvPvE nature of Arcadia Quest can feel a bit weird at times. Like I said: love ’em both. I just have a special place in my heart for Super Dungeon Explore.
Even better, Super Dungeon Explore Legends will be coming out soon! This will add campaigns to the Super Dungeon Explore experience, and I cannot wait. This was really the only thing I think the game is currently lacking, and it’ll be fun to get some friends together regularly and smash our way through video game dungeons on the tabletop.
Until next time, gang. Keep it plucky,