I hoped WayForward Technologies learned their lesson from making Adventure Time: Hey Ice King, Why’d You Steal Our Garbage for the 3DS. I wanted them to make Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW! less boring, more challenging, and full of more Adventure Time charm. But somehow they did the opposite and made the most monotonous and stripped down hack ‘n slash ever.
I originally played AT:ETDBIDK on an Xbox 360 (it’s also playable on Wii U and PS3) and found it to be moderately enjoyable. The graphics were simple but clean and well-suited to the game. The controls were adequate and offered a fair amount of versatility. And while the randomly generated dungeons were okay at best, the 4-player action – complete with an array of playable character and customizable powers – made up for it just barely.
Almost all of that has been removed from the 3DS version. The graphics are fuzzy and dull; I actually had to double check that I was playing a 3DS game and not a regular DS game because the resolution was so low. The controls are slow, and hit detection is abysmal. But the worst part is that the multiplayer has been completely taken out. Multiplayer was the one redeeming factor of the game, and they nixed it for 3DS. This smells of laziness.
Like before, this Adventure Time game tries to capitalize on the weird humor and retro charm of its license to carry the experience. But this time, it doesn’t even seem to make a real effort at it. The story kicks off with Princess Bubblegum calling Fin and Jake to her castle to investigate her dungeons, which are inexplicably filled with prisoners that have escaped their cells and shackles. And… that’s actually it on the story front.
On a certain level, it’s funny because of how stupidly straightforward it is, getting you into the action without a wasted moment. But then I started thinking about what a huge waste that was. I’ve recently caught up on several seasons of the show, and I now know what a huge world it is, filled with imaginative possibilities. At least the last game hooked me with its absurd story of fighting to reclaim Fin and Jake’s kidnapped garbage.
So, you go into the dungeon as Fin, Jake, Marceline, or any other character you’ve unlocked (eight in total), and beat up enemies as you look for an exit. Each character has their own little quirks. Jake, for example, can stretch across pits and has good blocking abilities. Marceline has a ranged attack, can absorb enemy projectiles, and floats over hindering terrain. As each dungeon level is randomly generated, there’s nothing special to uncover other than treasure, power-ups, and the exit. Once you reach the next level, you just go through the exact same thing as before, though this time you’re slightly more interested in finding the exit as fast as possible.
Occasionally, you’ll get to fight a boss monster, but they’re on such predictable patterns there’s no thinking or planning required to beat them. I really can’t say any more about them that this. It’s a small fraction of the game that adds little to the experience.
Every five levels you have the option of returning to town. Once there, you can spend your treasure on permanent stat boosts. You can also switch to another character here, but stat boosts don’t carry over between characters. The only other thing you can do is equip two or three items (depending on the character) that give you some minor bonuses, like an extra Heart or a dodge move. These brief reprieves from the dungeon are nice, but ultimately frustrating, because any treasure you don’t spend gets taken away by Princess Bubblegum before you return to the dungeon (even though you’re doing her a favor and clearing monsters out of her dungeon). So if you’re saving up cash to buy a big stat boost, you can’t return to town for at least 10 to 20 levels.
Another step backwards between this game and the last is the sound. At least the last Adventure Time game had a cool retro soundtrack that belonged in a fantasy adventure. But this feels like the video game equivalent of elevator music. It just drones along in the background, almost enhancing the feeling of boredom and repetition. And worst of all, you can even hear a gap where the tracks loop back to the beginning.
Even their attempts at adding humor makes me angry. The BMO (basically a living Game Boy) stares at you the whole time on the bottom screen, doing nothing but saying the occasional jokey one-liner. These are funny upon first hearing them on level one. But at level 40, I want to pull out his batteries!
As a side note, what’s the point of putting the BMO on that screen anyway? There are so many more useful things that could be there, most notably a map. Instead, you have to tap the bottom screen to make the map appear over the top screen (because you wouldn’t want to obscure BMO’s face, would you?) causing more confusion and blurring in the action. Just wow…
So yeah, I didn’t like Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know. The only thing I don’t know is why I would ever play it again. This is clearly a game meant to be multiplayer, yet it doesn’t have that feature, so I see no reason for anyone to pick it up.