November 19, 2013
My name is Duchess Gummybuns, and this here is the slamacow review of Adventure Time Explore the Dungeon Because I DON'T KNOW! Truly the grand vizier of all video game names, but does it have the mathematical skills to deliver an experience that can match the hilarious, surreal and weird nature of the show? Mixing a blend of pop culture references, quick fire humour, sarcasm and, obviously, fart jokes means Adventure Time has quickly built up something of a cult following. So here is the chance to turn audience participation into a good time. Or maybe not.
It takes a while for some people to “get” Adventure Time but the same can’t be said of the game. This is a modern day Gauntlet, simple as that. You pick a character and beat your way through 100 floors of a dungeon until you hit the bottom and kick the ass of the mystery fiend waiting there (spoiler: it’s a story-based plot point that hasn’t been in the show yet). The problem is that the game just hasn’t been fleshed out enough to exceed your expectations in any area.
To start with you can pick one of four characters, including the ubiquitous Finn and Jake plus Marceline the Vampire Queen and (for some reason) Cinnamon Bun. Four other hardy adventurers can also join your posse as you rescue them (or beat them up) in your quest down all one hundred floors. Unfortunately each character only has a few basic attacks, plus a charge move and a special imagination attack. They do have a few unique abilities to make them stand out, but really they all just rely on bashing things until they die and you’ll be bashing things A LOT.
Unfortunately, this is where the game falls down as the core mechanics are just so underwhelming. Each floor is randomly generated and your primary goal is to get to the exit and make it to the next level. Along the way there are foes to fight and treasure to snag, but none of it ever grabs your interest. The problem is that enemies are extremely limited with one standard attack each and decidedly basic animations. Plus, they never threaten to overwhelm you like they would in the classic Gauntlet experience so you can just avoid them if you so desire and the urge to do so happens sooner than you’d expect.
For the first bunch of levels you'll probably explore every nook and cranny, killing all the enemies you come across and finding all the loot you can. The characters spout their catchphrases in a fun manner, and you can use and abuse the fun imagination attacks as you fill up your meter. But soon you realise that there is really no need for all that effort and the dull enemies and floors (plus mainly useless treasure) mean you don’t feel obliged to do so. This is especially true once the floors start becoming more convoluted and you just want to get from A to B as quickly as possible. When you’re actively rushing through the game and avoiding the core tenets of combat and exploration, then something has clearly gone wrong.
The real problem is also one of the game's own making. As you can only level up your characters by spending treasure on upgrades outside of the dungeon, which you can head back to every five floors. However, the game doesn’t allow for forward planning as any unspent treasure is unceremoniously taken away from you once you head back into the depths. It’s a baffling choice and one that is annoying in its inclusion. It basically means that levelling your character is made more arduous than it should be and you have to rely on later floors, or the random treasure floors, to get enough cash to actually do anything with. Whoever thought this would be a good idea clearly needs taking to one side.
Outside of just searching random floors and finding treasure you can also get your hands on various secondary weapons, some of which are worth a chuckle, and orbs that help to power you up before you head back into the dungeon proper. Some of these are stupidly powerful and some are just stupid, but they at least serve to somewhat counterbalance the rubbish treasure resetting system. You also get a range of quests from series regulars that you can accomplish on your travels with some requiring positively zero effort and others feeling a touch luck based, but it is what it is.
The ultimate problem is that while at first things seem charming and fun, there is just not enough of what makes the show so good actually in this game. The game is presented in a blocky, old school style like an old cartridge game and you have to wonder why they didn’t just use the great cartoon visuals from the show. The cut scenes are cute and full of the humour that you would expect, but they are just too few and far between. Ten floors between, to be precise, as every new scene only generally turns up when you fight a boss. So to get to the good stuff you effectively have to go through nine floors of turgid hacking and the payoff just doesn’t seem worth it. If the developer could have used the fun and imagination that litters every boss floor throughout the entire game, then we would have been onto a winner. Sadly that is not the case.
Assuming you stick it out and grind through all one hundred floors then at least you’ll get some fun nods from the show, plenty of cameos from series favourites and some funny dialogue and inventive boss fights. You’ll also probably snag a bunch of trophies but then you’ll be expected to level up every character, complete every quest and survive the brutality of the Nightosphere – all of which may seem like a chore considering the game's bland nature.
When this game turned up we were like “OH MAH GLOB YOU GUYS, THIS IS SO TOTALLY EXCITING, I NEED TO CALL MELISSA” but now we feel pretty bummed out. Adventure Time Explore the Dungeon Because I DON'T KNOW! is a smooth poser at best, but not one that lives up to the awesomeness of the show or the characters. It doesn’t even stand up well against the game it is clearly apeing, Gauntlet, and can’t hold a candle to current dungeon crawlers like Diablo III that do far more to hold your interest. With a heavy heart we have to say that this game has a stank booty, put it on an ice floe and let it float off into the sunset. It’s either that or THOUSAND YEARS DUNGEON!
Cute chip music and good voicework, but it’s just too rarely heard and the canned lines during levels soon start to grate.
Presented in an old-school way, but that soon shows up the limitations of the animation and makes you pine for the superb work done on the show. Why change a great thing into an average one?
Bash things to win, then just dodge things to win, then get excited by a fun boss. Then go back to the dull stuff again. Repeat for 100 floors.
A terrible use of the license, which isn’t to say Adventure Time couldn’t be a great dungeon crawler, just that THIS isn’t a great dungeon crawler by any stretch of the imagination.
At least the list uses fun episode names and phrases from the show, but it also has a whiff of repetition to it that could have been avoided.
At first I fell in love with this game, then I fell out of love and now I’m going to have to totally fake die, of a fake heart attack. Oh my heart, my heart hurts because I fell out of love with Adventure Time Explore the Dungeon Because I DON'T KNOW! and now I have to die. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh!