Airing on Cartoon Network and currently ranking as one of the most popular cartoons, it was only a matter of time before videogame tie-ins would surface for the Adventure Time series. Released only last year, ‘Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?!’ was the franchise’s first venture into the realm of videogames and was well received by gamers and critics alike, comparing it to an almost Zelda-like experience, a fitting description for the Nintendo exclusive release. Trailing on from this success comes ‘Adventure Time: Explore The Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW’, a dungeon crawler that ironically lacks any sense of adventure, let alone fun, traits so closely tied to the TV show it attempts to copy.
Wrapped up inside a paper thin plot, the TV shows main hero’s (Finn, Jake, Marceline and Cinnamon Bun) find themselves helping out Princess Bubblegum as she tasks you with clearing out the secret royal dungeon of its prisoners. The evil that live below have mysteriously gotten out of control and threaten the safety of the Candy Kingdom, of which it is up to you to save. If you are after a plot that matches the quality of the animated series, you are in for disappointment. The plot itself is severely uninspired, and feels like it was only constructed to necessitate the dungeon crawling gameplay. Once you begin to play the game the plot is largely side-lined, only cropping up in fleeting cutscenes intermittently placed throughout your adventure. These cutscenes despite being fully voice-acted by the shows cast, are incredibly unfunny and fail to flow resulting in many instances of awkwardness. This certainly isn’t aided by the lack of proper animated cutscenes, instead settling for stilted single frames fitted around the terrible dialogue. It is clear that the developers just couldn’t be bothered doing nothing but the absolute minimum here, and sadly this trend carries over to the whole title.
Visually speaking the game isn’t bad, it’s just incredibly unremarkable. There isn’t enough variety found in the game to satisfy, and the 16-bit theme that runs throughout feels odd to say the least, not fitting at all with the feel of the show. Graphics are a mixture of 3d and hand-drawn sprites, with the majority being presented in the latter. While the drawing style is reminiscent of the show, the game loses the vibrancy and creativity of the TV shows presentation.
Even more lacking than the art style is the incredibly primitive combat. Consisting of only the most basic combat mechanics, each character can use a standard attack, a sub-weapon attack, a charged attack and a special attack. Quite frankly none of this does the game any favours and after the first few minutes of gameplay the simplicity and repetition of it all grates heavily, something that multiplies with each level resulting in an insane amount of boredom. You will find yourself walking around each dungeon hammering the same two buttons, performing the same moves on the same array of enemies. Even playing as different characters fails to break the mould. Sub-weapons try their best to spice up the action, but even they fail, with most lacking in creativity or even that much use to the player. Players are able to block incoming enemy attacks and even deflect some, but it is entirely possible to complete all dungeons without the use of this feature thanks to the ease of it all. Multiplayer is included in the game and while playing it with someone else is more bearable, the game never becomes enjoyable.
Enemies in the game stick to traditional types and never even attempt to be creative. While they might appear visually appealing, their AI behaviour is predictable and they approach so slowly that they are just waiting to be killed by the player, offering no challenge whatsoever. While there are plenty of enemies in the game, they are often reskinned versions of previous enemies or have the exact same attacks as others.
Perhaps the worst offender in this game is the painfully bad level design, of which never feels interesting or fresh in any way, instead easing the player into boredom within little time at all. Levels all take up a blocky and disinteresting layout with multiple branching passageways that either link up with other paths, or more often than not, lead to dead-ends that contain nothing and hold no purpose but to aggravate the player. These passageways could at least be forgiven if they were off the beaten track, but the fact of the matter is that there is no signposting to be found, and as a result the player will often find themselves wandering around trying to find the exit. Not only is the level design infuriating, it’s also highly illogical leaving most dungeon floors feeling messy and poorly cobbled together. If I didn’t know better, I would be under the impression that this game was rushed to release with limited development time. Oh wait, it was.
Outside of the dungeon crawling, the player is able to move around the castle hub area, a place that allows access to character switching, ability upgrading, and shops to buy various items from. Because combat is largely avoidable in each dungeon the game becomes broken, and none of these features add variety to the gameplay. Why bother switching characters and upgrading stats when for the most part you can avoid combat? Regardless of the broken gameplay, when combat is necessary you can easily defeat enemies as they don’t pose much of a threat. Perhaps the only interesting feature is the inclusion of tokens that can be selected prior to entering a dungeon. These will grant temporary bonuses to your character such as increased health and while a nice idea, they are integrated badly thanks to how easy the game is, resulting in no need for any of them to be used.
All purchases require a certain amount of gold treasure of which is found within the dungeons. Because each treasure pickup is worth only a one value, it takes a lot of time to earn enough treasure to pay for anything remotely significant. This is a situation made even worse through a castle tax feature that is completely counter-productive and incredibly frustrating. Once you enter the hub area you are left with the only option but to spend your hard-earned treasure otherwise it gets taken off you upon re-entering the dungeon. It serves no purpose but to annoy the player and it’s even worse when you have to replay a level countless times because the previous times you hadn’t collected enough treasure to pay for what you want.
Being nothing but an uninspired cash-cow of a game that’s only purpose is to squeeze money out of fans of the show, there is literally nothing to enjoy here and no amount of love for Adventure Time will change this. I have had the displeasure of enduring some stinkers in my time, but this is the icing on the cake. Completely lacking in any good ideas, this game does not deserve anyone’s attention and rightfully so. Unless you find the idea of crying blood appealing, I suggest you turn away from this game and run a mile.
- There are no positives.
- Repetitious gameplay to the point of crying blood.
- Boring and illogical level design.
- Uninspired story.
- Dull presentation.
- Terrible use of a great license.
- Castle tax idea is terrible and very frustrating.
- Everything else in this game that I haven’t mentioned above.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.