Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW (EDBIDK) is the second game based on the popular television series, Adventure Time. I’ll admit, I’m a solid fan of the show. It’s got the right mix of quirky humor, fun animation, and quick dialogue that keeps me coming back. So, naturally, I was a little excited when I saw EDBIDK coming to the consoles and the 3DS. Adventure Time‘s first game, Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?! received a fair reception, so I was hopeful for this second installation. I’m regretting getting my hopes up.
EDBIDK doesn’t have much of a plot, as you would expect for a dungeon crawler. The story is told through a handful of brief cutscenes and dialogue, removing any plot from the majority of the actual gameplay. You can choose to play as Finn, Jake, Marceline, or Cinnamon Bun (as well as a handful of unlockable characters) to explore the secret dungeon beneath the Candy Kingdom. You do all of this at the request of Princess Bubblegum, who simply states that the badguys in the dungeon have been released because SHE DOESN’T KNOW. Honestly, if you enjoy Adventure Time for the stories told in the episodes, you’ll be disappointed by this game. Aside from the setting and the characters, there’s very little that inspires the same feeling as watching the show.
The gameplay of EDBIDK is very similar to the Gauntlet series, where you wade through floor after floor, killing enemies and collecting treasure. The enemies will spawn infinitely from spawn points on the map, unless you destroy them. Each floor is randomly created, ensuring that each floor feels new and different from the last time you played. The downside is that the scenery only changes about once every ten or fifteen floors. So, the map can be as random as they want, but it’s still going to be the exact same crap you’ve been looking at for the past ten floors. Every five floors, you’ll have the opportunity to return back the main hub, where you can spend your treasure on stat upgrades or items that can assist you in the dungeons. The hub is where you’ll have the most interaction with the other characters of the world, with a wide variety of cameo appearances by characters from the show. These characters will provide side quests, which are generally fetch quests that you can accomplish within the dungeons.
The only changes in gameplay come from, “Timed Floors”. These occur (seemingly) at random and will spawn you in a floor full of either monsters or treasure. You’ll then have sixty seconds to collect as much treasure as possible, or have sixty seconds to survive the monster floor. Finally, you’ve got a boss fight every ten floors. Despite some lack of direction, the boss fights are probably the most enjoyable part of the core gameplay. There is a surprising mix of different bosses, ranging from traditional tough enemies you fight to mobs of prisoners you have to outrun.
The biggest problem that all of the gameplay suffers from is the devastating lack of variety. You have to suffer through ten floors of the exact same grinding, just to get to a moderately interesting boss fight. Although the enemies do change over time, they really only change color and become more difficult. EDBIDK is lacking any sort of depth to the gameplay, forcing players to mind-numbingly grind floor after floor, never changing what obstacles you’ll face. The strongest quality this game has got going for it is the multiplayer, allowing up to four players to tackle the dungeons together. Even the most boring floors can be brightened up by having your friends there to help. Which is why I’m baffled to see that they’ve crippled the multiplayer by having no online capabilities. All of the multiplayer is local, which forced me to complete almost all of the 100 floors alone. I tell you what, playing 100 floors of this game isn’t fun when you’re alone. It’s tedious.
EDBIDK was created to look and feel like a retro game, so all of the graphics are simply animated. Unfortunately, all of the cutscenes are done exclusively in a visual style that looks similar to an SNES or Genesis era game. So, all you get to watch during cutscenes are still pictures of pixelated characters while dialogue plays. Why would they have the made the actual game look like a decent representation of the show’s animation, but then make all of the cutscenes look so dated that it gives no real life to the events that are going on? The audio isn’t much better than the visual in EDBIDK, consisting of about ten or fifteen songs. Over the 100 floors, these same songs just loop over and over and over. I’m very glad that they got the cast of the show to voice all of their characters, but the droning music will nearly force you to play with the TV muted. Really, I only played with audio during boss fights and cutscenes, because the only dialogue you hear in the dungeons are the pre-recorded one liners each character spits out every few seconds.
If you’re an Achievement Hound or a completionist, the achievements in this game can be pretty painful. There aren’t any overly difficult achievements to get, but almost all of them require a fair amount of grinding and time. I attempted to get as many as I could in one playthrough and ended up with 405/1,000. I don’t know how dedicated the rest of you are to putting endless hours into this game, but I’ve had about all I can stand. So, I’m not even worrying about trying to eek out any more achievements from this one.
I’m not really sure if this game even had the potential to be what it wanted to be. The game really doesn’t have much to do with the show, other than the characters and items referencing the show. The dungeon crawling is tedious, boring, and saved only by the multiplayer (which is still only local). The graphics and music are an entirely mixed bag, with dreadfully animated cutscenes and repetitive music. I don’t know what they were hoping to create with EDBIDK, but it all went horribly wrong.
I give Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW
2 “Egg Grenades” out of 5
By Blake Edwards