In a land far, far away- the sixth floor of the Washington State Convention Center during PAX Prime 2013- I had the incredible opportunity to play the upcoming dungeon crawler Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know! from D3 Publisher and WayForward Technologies. It’s a ridiculously long title for a game with a simple concept- combine the beloved Adventure Time universe with gameplay inspired from addictive dungeon crawlers like Diablo 2 and Gauntlet Legends. Take those key ideas and put them in the hands of a hard-working team that stays true to the source material and you’ve got a winning combination for gamers of all ages.
Tasked with helping Princess Bubblegum keep the nastiest creatures in the Land of Ooo from escaping her secret dungeon, players are instantly immersed in an all-too-familiar world filled with danger, magic, and talking pastries. For fans of the hit Cartoon Network series, that last sentence should come as no surprise.
Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon features 100 stages of beat-em-up goodness that can be enjoyed as a myriad of playable characters. Finn and Jake are accounted for, as are Marceline the Vampire Queen, Ice King, Cinnamon Bun (!) and the ever-sassy Lumpy Space Princess. There are more characters to choose from, each with their own special stats and abilities, but quite a bit of fun comes from experimenting and discovering which combination works best for grinding through each level of the dungeon.
If you’ve played any classic dungeon crawler you’ll soon start noticing nuances in the playable characters that resemble classic RPG classes. Cinnamon Bun, for example, serves as a great tank whose special ability drops power-ups on the map for others to heal- not too unlike the capabilities of a paladin. Marceline can absorb red enemy projectiles to replenish her own powers, the ever handy Jake calls upon his Korean girlfriend Lady Rainicorn to make usable weapons rain all over the screen. Perennial protagonist Jake can’t float over pits or throw globs of lumps around like LSP, but he can equip three tokens at once- adding yet another wrinkle to the strategy that can be employed in this game.
Tokens are but some of the collectibles in this Adventure Time title that make subtle differences in every play session. As these magical items are found throughout the dungeons, they can be equipped for bonus stats such as extra health, speed, attack damage, and more. Maybe you’re the kind of player that prefers exploring solo, so giving Marceline a token that adds extra thumps (the game’s version of life points) would make her more durable. That same token can be given to Cinnamon Bun to make him an even denser tank (pun intended) that can take a beating with ease so the rest of your party can go to town on the baddies. The strategies that can be employed with character and token combinations are impressive indeed, considering this game is targeted to Adventure Time’s young demographic. Even so, older gamers and RPG fans will just as easily eat this stuff up.
As easy as it would have been to just phone in a game based on a popular license, Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon was obviously crafted with love by a dev team of fans of both the series and RPG genre. Up to four players can drop in and out during gameplay locally, making it a great party game or family night title that players with even minimal skills can have fun with.
If you’ve ever spent an entire rainy afternoon enjoying a few episodes of Adventure Time, or lost way too many quarters to Gauntlet Legends in the arcade as a wee gamer, then Adventure Time: Explore this Dungeon Because I Don’t Know should definitely be on your radar this fall.
Adventure Time: Explore this Dungeon Because I Don’t Know will be released on November 12, 2013 for Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, 3DS, and Microsoft Windows.