You know what? I really don’t know why you should explore the dungeon either.
Easy jab aside, I was really looking forward to the release of Adventure Time: Explore The Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW! ever since I got the opportunity to play the game at PAX Prime 2013. WayForward Technologies and D3 Publisher’s licensed dungeon crawler is little more than a hack-and-slash occurrence whose novelty wears off rather quickly. I call it an occurrence because it takes a bit more action for a game to qualify as an adventure in my eyes.
As a loyal fan of the source material, it was a treat to hear John DiMaggio as Jake the Dog and the sultry rasp of Olivia Olson as Marceline the Vampire Queen amidst cheerful chiptune music. Thing is, the familiar voice actors, background music, and retro graphics used can only remain charming for so long before glaring gameplay lapses start to take a toll on even the biggest Adventure Time fans.
This Adventure Time title allows players to choose from one of initially four characters to fight back all of the prisoners trying to escape from Princess Bubblegum’s dungeon. Similar to classic RPGs, characters can build up stats- in this case referred to as Thumps, Rowdiness, Focus, and Imagination. Stats are increased for each character using the treasure found in PB’s dungeon, but even the prospect of exploring fanciful catacombs as a magical dog or dense cinnamon bun aren’t as appealing as you’d think.
There are one hundred levels of sparsely populated corridors to navigate in Adventure Time Explore The Dungeon, often times leading to dead ends that are more of a chore than a challenge to navigate. Strewn about the floors are numerous pits, but those can be easily crossed by characters that can fly or have other magical abilities. You’ve got a basic attack, charge attack, and special ability for each character, but mowing through scores of skeletons and feral deer can be done by simply mashing your controller at the right time. Even with a varied selection of special weapons, combat quickly becomes monotonous and the goal of each floor becomes getting to the checkpoint out of boredom.
As stated before, treasure (rather insane amounts of it as you begin the game) is required to upgrade each character’s stats. Whatever treasure is not spent in the colorful game hub outside of PB’s castle on stat upgrades or items from Choose Goose’s shop is lost upon re-entering the dungeon. The best way to ensure you get enough treasure is to thwomp baddies for the chance of a random drop to add on to the piles inconveniently left in the furthest possible paths winding around each dungeon floor.
Aside from a tedious grind I’ve not had to sit through since the likes of Bayonetta, Adventure Time” Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW! seriously dropped the ball by not having an online multiplayer component. Having the ability to play as four fan-favorite characters at once is great, but getting four people to sit still in one living room nowadays on a single console is a feat that could only be achieved during holiday celebrations with young kids. Even then, I don’t see their attention span withstanding the hours of hackneyed hack-and-slash.
Look, I love me some Adventure Time as much as the next partially matured man-child nearly two decades outside of its intended demographic, but that’s no excuse for a lackluster video game. So much promise fell to the wayside with this game release that I could only hope the show’s creator takes heed of the poor reception and pushes for higher quality the next time around. Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW! might be the most aptly named game released in recent memory- the name draws you in but ultimately you’ll be trying to understand why the Glob you picked up the controller in the first place.
Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW! is out now on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Nintendo 3DS, and Nintendo Wii U.
Adventure Time Explore The Dungeon Launch Trailer
Adventure Time Explore The Dungeon Comic-Con Hands-On
Adventure Time Explore The Dungeon PAX Hands-On