Adventure Time: Explore The Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW! is a unique little tie-in to the cartoon series of the same name. The developers at WayForward have brought Finn and Jake’s adventures to a home console for the second time while providing homage to a nostalgic video game series. Much like the previous 3DS game, Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?!!‘s obvious Zelda II roots, the recent EtDBIDK! gives gamers a taste of Pendleton Ward’s flair coupled with the gameplay of the original Gauntlet titles.
Adventure Time has always been about its eclectic cast of characters. While the series’ main protagonists are Finn the Human to Jake the Dog, the latter capable of transformation into whatever his heart desires, the cast just seems to get more and more weird as you go down the list. Also available from the onset are Marceline the vampire, whom eats by simply sucking the red out of an object, and Cinnamon Bun, the talking cinnamon bun. More characters are available to pick from as they’re unlocked including the Valley Girl-esque Lumpy Space Princess. All of these characters are brought together with a common task. Princess Bubblegum, the matriarchal leader of the Kingdom of Ooo has tasked the player (or four) with venturing off into the depths below her castle with this simple quest in her own words: Explore the dungeon because I don’t know!
From the moment the title menu rolls, you’re greeted with an 8-bit rendition of the Adventure Time theme song. At first glance, it’s easy to mistake EtDBIDK! for an old NES game and that’s exactly what the folks at WayForward are going for. No matter what platform you’re playing on, this game is one of those great reminders of the days when games didn’t need million-dollar budgets or hundred-man development teams. All of the presentation in EtDBIDK! is filled with nods to the retro age of gaming.
For players that remember the old Gauntlet, EtDBIDK! much of the core mechanics remain similar, albeit toned down for the younger generations. Each of the four initially selectable characters (with plenty more unlockable) start off with their own stats and specialty. Stats are slimmed down to a mere four: Thumps (hearts, or life points), Rowdiness (attack damage), Focus (special attack charge time), and Imagination (number of special attack slots). Each stat is given to a character in a different ratio, so someone like Lumpy Space Princess might have a higher Imagination than others, while Finn and Jake would have higher Rowdiness stats. These stats are all upgradable, but naturally some characters will have a higher cap than others. Think of these characters to be similar to classes in Gauntlet, such as the Elf and Warrior. And again drawing similarities to Gauntlet, some characters have varying basic attacks, such as LSP’s penchant for throwing purple globs at the enemy similar to the Elf’s archery ability.
At its core, EtDBIDK! is all about just finding your way deeper into the dungeon. Exit stairs are hidden across the expansive levels of the dungeon, so it will take some time trekking around to locate these stairs. Since we’ve progressed far beyond the 336×240 resolution of the original Gauntlet title, it would only make sense to have the levels be that much larger as well. While this seems like the levels could be more the explore, it’s just the opposite instead. Levels that would normally only take a hundred or two steps to traverse (thankfully, there are no food counters in Finn’s world) instead take upwards of a thousand just because of the scale to these dungeon floors. Sparse mazes are present on each floor, but most are instead simply empty rooms that take too long to walk around.
Besides a limited number of enemies at a given time, more if there’s an enemy nest to defeat, and a handful of collectible items to acquire, much of the environments are vacant and a chore to navigate. Movement largely feels too slow, even with medals to boost one’s walk speed, while the levels themselves feel too large in comparison. Combat also feels like it simply repeats itself far too often, leaving much of EtDBIDK! to feel like a chore rather than one of Finn and Jake’s grand adventures.Adventure Time: Explore The Dungeon Because I DON'T KNOW! Review (PS3),