When we last saw an Adventure Time game, it was the 3DS title that was heavily influenced by Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. While not perfect, it was a solid adventure that brought forth the feel and humor of the show. With this success, it was time for the series to take on other platforms. The result is a game with the absurdly long title Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON'T KNOW!, and we were able to get some hands-on time with it at this year's San Diego Comic-Con.
For fans of the first game, this title is different in several different ways. Instead of being an RPG, Explore the Dungeon is a classic dungeon crawler. Though the game can be played solo, it supports up to four players simultaneously. It also allows you to play as more than just Finn, and while the demo only showed off Cinnamon Bun, Jake and Marceline, the representative informed us that other characters like Flame Princess, Jake Jr., and Lumpy Space Princess would also join the fray.
The demo started off with the overworld, which houses all of the other supporting characters in the game, like BMO and Lady Rainicorn, all of whom will have full voice-overs by the original cast in the game. As in any dungeon crawler, the overworld is home to shops for items, power-ups and stat upgrades. We were also told that the overworld would start off as being sparsely populated but would fill up with familiar characters as you complete more dungeons. Once you feel you're fully equipped, you can talk to Princess Bubblegum to jump into one of the many dungeons in the land of Ooo.
Once you're in the dungeons, the game strongly adheres to the rules and quirks of action-based dungeon crawlers. You and your three companions go through floor after floor, fighting randomly generated monsters until you find the exit or boss. Though the camera can pull back rather far if the group separates, everyone is still restricted to being on the same screen. The action is done in real time, with each successful kill building up a power meter so you can unleash a special move. Additionally, each character has traits, such as Jake and Marceline's ability to float over chasms. All in all, it's standard dungeon stuff, only with licensed characters.
There are a few things that make this stand out. First, Explore the Dungeon comes with a random dungeon generator to ensure that no two levels are alike. Most of the recently released dungeon crawlers do the same thing, but for a title that's intended for a younger gaming audience — despite the show's older fan base — this is huge for increased replayability. Secondly, the graphics are an interesting mix of old and new, with the dungeons and environments being fully polygonal and with a rich color scheme while the characters are well-animated sprites that look at home in the late 16-bit era. Somehow, the wild difference in styles fits perfectly, as it helps the characters stand out but not blatantly so.
Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON'T KNOW! is scheduled to hit the XBLA, PSN, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS and PC this fall on Nov. 12. Look for more coverage on the game in the coming months.
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