Adventure Time is one of the most popular cartoons on Earth right now. It has a creative art style, memorable characters, a unique sense of humor, great voice acting, and everything else that makes a creative cartoon memorable in all the right areas. Since it was a popular show, naturally it got a video game! The first Adventure Time game was released last year for the Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS called Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?! I only played the game recently, and while it’s a fun homage to Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, it is rather short, and I felt like they could have done much more with the world of Adventure Time. It was easily not worth its $40 price tag and should have been a $10 downloadable game. If I reviewed it back then, I would have given it a 6 out of 10. We now have a new game based off of the show called Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know! for the Wii U, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS, and PC. Even though the developer behind the last game, WayForward Technologies, is also behind this game, there is still some concern with how the overall quality of the game will end up on release. So far, it has gotten mixed reviews. Now then, what do I personally think of it? Read on to find out!
The story revolves around our two main heroes Finn and Jake, voiced by Jeremy Shada and John DiMaggio. They arrive to the Candy Kingdom to help Princess Bubblegum, voiced by Hynden Walch. She explains the situation to Jake and Finn. All of the prisoners that are in the royal dungeon are trying to escape, and she needs you to go into the dungeon and stop them. It is up to Finn, Jake, and friends to stop the baddies from escaping, and save the day in the Land of Ooo. The story is very simple, but it has its charm. The writing is funny and it stays very loyal to the weird world of Adventure Time.
Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know! is a dungeon crawler in the spirit of the original Gauntlet. You pick from a cast of characters from the show and head down into the 100-level dungeon. Each character you play actually plays differently with little perks the others don’t have unless you equip them with a certain token. For example, Finn can equip three tokens while everyone else can only equip two, Ice King can freeze enemies, and Marceline can absorb energy blasts. You only start off with four characters to choose from, but can gain more playable allies as you go through the dungeon. Tokens will give your characters perks, like not taking damage when you block, giving non-flying characters the ability to cross over pits, take less damage, do more damage, keep all of their money when you die, and you get the idea. On top of your normal simple attacks, blocking, dodging, and charge attacks which do different things when charged up, you have your imagination bar. This is your big super ability, and each character can have more than one kind of imagination attack. For example, Finn’s first screen-filling attack will hurt all of the enemies, and his second imagination attack is a guy playing music and turning enemies into food. You can also obtain sub-weapons that range from weapons with ammo, to ones that don’t use ammo. You can also find familiars to travel alongside you, and they also have different perks, like getting rid of curses or healing you while you stand still. To gain upgrades, you will need to talk to different characters from the show about upgrading your attack, health, focus, and imagination bar. Outside of the main dungeon, other characters from the show, like Princess Bubblegum and Tree Trunks will give you side quests to accomplish throughout the dungeon levels that you explore, like getting a cursed sword or finding a character who is in the dungeon. Inside the dungeon, you will have to deal with randomized levels, enemies, and in the later levels, traps. The dungeon theme will change every 20 levels, but the layout of each floor will change. Each of the dungeon themes will have different perks, like ice or electricity. For each 10 levels you play through, you will have to deal with a boss. The game can be rather challenging, since the game only saves your progress every five levels. This means if you die before completing every fifth or 10th level, you will have to do those floors all over again. Oh, on top of the enemies that will get tougher and have different abilities to work around, if you take too long finishing the later levels, Death will chase you down and kill you. In essence, he is like the Grim Reaper guy from Bubble Bobble or any game that had a death character that comes after you if you can’t beat the level fast enough. There are also some elements of Sinistar with the rather horrific roar, and Death saying “I see you.” Luckily, he moves slowly, but he does have a beam that can pull you towards him if he is in range of your character. There is even a side quest where you have to kill him, but good luck doing that. The boss fights are all unique and play differently. They will have different tactics that you need to find out about and some aren’t even “boss fights” in the literal term. This game will take you a while to beat especially if you want to gain all of the upgrades and complete all of the side quests. There are actual differences between the versions of this game. The Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Wii U will have the character Bemo talk to you on the second screen. He is mostly there to break the fourth wall, give you tips on beating the boss, tell you when Death arrives, and describe items to you.
I like the graphical presentation. The colors are bright, the sprite work for the characters looks great, and each character is well animated. The cutscenes look simple, and the show’s art style does not look as good as the in-game graphics, but they are still highly entertaining to watch. It helps that they got the original cast of the show to do the voice work for this game. Anytime you talk to anyone, their dialogue is fully spoken, which is nice. The music is solid. It isn’t anything super-duper amazing, but it is catchy, and the music will change every 20 levels.
I wish I could say this retro license game was all-around perfect, but it isn’t. I don’t think it’s that bad of a game, unlike every other critic that has given this game a negative score. The biggest problem the game has is that the level design is a bit repetitive. The layouts might change, but there isn’t anything too dynamic about the levels until later into the game. It is a bummer they didn’t take advantage of the weird world and lore of Adventure Time more, and make some super-creative levels, but they are not too bad. I could think of worse games that had even worse level design than this game. I also see a lot of critics complain that there is no map, when there actually is one, and that the combat is repetitive. It might be simple, but there is a bit of depth to the combat. This is obvious when you have a group of four adventurers and need to strategize which character gets which tokens, sub-weapons, and etc. I guess people wanted something more dynamic, like Rogue Legacy, where the levels change up everything. I also want to talk about one boss fight on the 50th floor. This was one of the most tediously designed bosses around. You have to escort multiple Hyoomans to the character Susan Strong, and try not to fight Gloops. The only problem is, the level is pitch black and you cannot see who is a Gloop or a Hyooman. They each have their own grunts and sounds, but since the shadowy fog that covers everyone is so big, you can’t tell who is who when multiple large shadow fogs are around you. Plus, if you choose a Gloop and not a Hyooman, you lose half a heart. This was such a tedious boss fight. The other boss fights are fine, but I really can’t see children getting past this part without getting infuriated.
I found this game to be rather fun. It’s easy to get into, the writing is humorous, the characters charming, and overall, it isn’t a bad game. I can actually see this game being a hidden gem within a few years. You obviously have to get the Wii U or 3DS to experience its exclusive features, and the game isn’t expensive at all. I will say though that it took me a bit to find the Wii U version since none of the GameStops had it on their shelves except for one that was inside the mall. The game right now is about $40, but I bet if you wait a week or so, the price will drop. I think it’s a fun multiplayer game, and there is actual challenge when you get to the half-way point of the game. Maybe it is just me that really likes this game, and I can kind of see where other critics or gamers are coming from, but personally, I think its “Mathematical!” Check it out for yourself.
This game gets a 7 out of 10.