Game – Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW!
Version – Wii U
Rating – E for Everyone
Obtained – Review Code courtesy of D3 Publisher
For fans of the hit cartoon show Adventure Time, prepare to be entertained. For all else, it’s mathematically probable that you’ll enjoy the presentation and all the content up for grabs. Grab your bamboo stick and follow me because I DON’T KNOW!
Explore the Dungeon is a top-down dungeon crawler and most closely resembles Gauntlet from back in the day, which is a plus. Jake and Finn are asked by Princess Bubblegum to explore her secret dungeon prison in order stop a riot. Players can either tackle the game solo as one of 8 Adventure Time characters, with more becoming available as they are rescued, or hop into multiplayer for some 4 player action.
Before heading below, be sure to check out the various vendors who are hocking their goods, namely, upgrades for you. These upgrades amount to leveling up as they increase the basic stats of your character. Of course, these upgrades cost treasure which you’ll find plenty of while exploring the dungeon. As you descend into its depths you’ll find yourself up against a wide array of enemies including skeletons, Faeries, Hug Wolves, dynamite sticks, plants, bubblegum worms and more. The majority of your time will be spent hacking your way through enemies, searching for treasure and ultimately finding the ladder to the next floor. This brings me to a flaw in the system: you can only exit the dungeon every 5th floor in order to save the game and buy upgrades. The treasure you collect can then be spent on items and character upgrades. While you’re topside, you can complete side quests, and deposit sub-weapons for later usage. A rather odd inclusion is that any unspent treasure you have when heading back into the dungeon is confiscated as “candy tax”, so you can never accrue your unspent treasure to buy the next upgrade. So let’s say you’re just 20 treasure shy of buying the next Thump upgrade, which costs 125 treasures. Well since the 105 treasures you do have will be taxed away, you have to start from scratch in order to afford the upgrade. Of course, this ups the challenge as you may not want to travel back topside after just 5 levels, in case you need to get more treasure, meaning you’ll be stuck below for at least 10 levels. I found this to be problematic, as I am a gamer with limited time on my hands. My play sessions sometimes can only last for 10 minutes or less. If I couldn’t complete 5 floors in one sitting, I had to do it all over again the next time. You can see how this would discourage one from playing. All I’m saying is that it would have been great if I could have saved after every floor and if I could have held onto my unspent treasure. This is nothing major, but something to consider for those whose time is limited.
Combat is relatively simple, as each character has a default weapon, sub-weapon slot, and a special attack. In addition, you can pick up tokens along the way which grant you power-ups while equipped. Some of these power-ups include health boosts and speed increases. The sub-weapons are dropped at random and allow for a more balanced gameplay when the right sub-weapon is acquired. Other characters, such as Lumpy Space Princess can float over chasms to areas which are unreachable to other players. The special attacks build up through a meter and when executed, players are treated to entertaining animations with a bit of humor. Bosses are encountered every 10th floor and after they are defeated, a cut-scene unfolds which is fully voice acted by the show’s actors.
Visually speaking, Explore the Dungeon is a delight. Right away you’ll be treated to bright colors, smooth animations, and perfect character design, all wrapped up in a 16-bit presentation. Of course, the one area I felt the visuals were lacking was in variety. The game takes place mainly throughout several floors of the castle dungeon, over 100 to be exact. Unfortunately, the themes only change every 10 floors. While the levels are randomly generated, it would have been nice to see some variety in the visuals of the levels themselves. Perhaps more details on the floors and walls. It’s not that it was sparse, it’s a dungeon after all, but more variety would have been a plus. The same goes for above ground in the kingdom. I would have liked to have been able to explore more than one screen in the kingdom, but that’s a minor complaint if anything. The audio tracks are mediocre, but where the audio really shines is in the voice-acting. Characters are voiced by the same folks who voice their characters on tv and if you’ve ever watched the show, then you know the voice acting is really entertaining.
Explore the Dungeon is a fun game, but only in short bursts. Unfortunately, short bursts may not get you to a save spot. For fans of the show, be prepared to immerse yourself in another outlandish Adventure Time – uh, adventure. For all else, be patient and enjoy the ride.
Final Score: 6 out of 10
+ Source material
+ Voice acting
+ 100 Floors
– Candy tax
– Repetitive combat and level design
– Save only every 5th level