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Adventure Time: Explore The Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW! and Regular Show: Mordecai & Rigby In 8-Bit Land

11:1601/12/2013Posted by Zoheir BeigNo Comments

Regular Show and Adventure Time are two cartoons that, similar to the likes of Spongebob Squarepants and Dexter’s Laboratory before them, have attracted cult followings far beyond the e-number-addled younger target audience their host channel Cartoon Network is ostensibly for. Both series are especially notable for being steeped in videogaming culture; for example, the stars of Regular Show, Mordecai the blue jay and Rigby the raccoon, appear to play a Sega Master System throughout the show, while the Adventure Time character BMO is a distant cousin of the original Game Boy, with facial expressions dictated by his adorably basic monochromatic screen.

Given this inherent affection for gaming it would be fair to hope that these series’ own videogames would be as idiosyncratic, imaginative and plain anarchic as the source material. With the brilliant title Explore The Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW!, Adventure Time’s offering certainly gets off to the best possible start. As the name suggests, ETDBIDK! (as nobody will ever refer to it) is a top-down dungeon crawler with all the familiar gameplay loops of battling enemies, loot collection and upgrading that entails. Repetition is key then, but it’s also the crux of the game’s flaws.

Explore The Dungeon is extremely strong in its implementation of Adventure Time style; the visuals have a sickly, garishly colourful look reminiscent of SNES-era RPGs fed through a high-resolution emulator, in keeping with the show’s aesthetic. Best of all, the original cast are all on board, lending their voices to such unique characters as Cinnamon Bun (a talking donut) and floating purple cloud Lumpy Space Princess (possibly the least graceful royal family member there has ever been). For those not versed in Adventure Time it’s likely to be more than a little baffling, and the game isn’t exactly the best introduction to their world (the curious would be better directed straight to YouTube). For fans however it’s quite a treat to play around with Pendleton Ward’s creations.

Whether casual observers will be able to sustain their interest across all 100 floors of this dungeon escapade is another question. Looked at forgivingly it’s an extremely accessible setup, but it’s a setup that doesn’t evolve or grow in dynamism as the game progresses. With a basic attack supplemented by a special magic attack and one sub-weapon, this is very much Diablo for beginners. And while the appeal of the characters and the world is strong, the initial excitement does slowly fade. Adventure Time devotees will get a lot from Explore The Dungeon then but it’s a shame that this is mostly a pleasure of the uncomplicated surface kind, from a cartoon that always has so much going on below the surface.

WayForward Productions, responsible for some of gaming’s recent low-key classics (A Boy And His Blob and the DS Aliens game spring immediately to mind) are the developers behind the irreverent Explore The Dungeon, and also this month’s other significant Cartoon Network tie-in, Regular Show: Mordecai & Rigby In 8-Bit Land.

Like the Adventure Time game, 8-Bit Land also mines genres associated with the late 80s/early 90s, but takes its inspiration less from the likes of Gauntlet and more from the glory days of NES. A 2D side-scrolling platformer in which you can switch between Mordecai and Rigby at the press of a button, the fun in 8-Bit Land is spotting the numerous videogaming references throughout, all while playing a game that feels like nothing more than a Mega Man cover version, which in this case is no bad thing. The game is deceptively hard, with one hit kills and courses with multiple routes, while the dynamic between Mordecai and Rigby (the former can double jump, while the latter is good for scurrying into smaller passages) helps a rhythm quickly develop.

Although Explore The Dungeon wins in the personality stakes, 8-Bit Land is the slightly better game – tightly designed and not outstaying its welcome, it’s a welcome, albeit minor, slice of retro indulgence, with the numerous nods to the likes of Duck Hunt, Mario, R-Type and even Street Fighter 2 (I’m sure that building in the background of the first world is from SF2’s famous intro) bathing everything in a fuzzy glow.

Adventure Time: Explore The Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW!:
Regular Show: Mordecai & Rigby In 8-Bit Land:

Adventure Time: Explore The Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW was reviewed on Playstation 3 using a review copy provided by the publishers. Regular Show: Mordecai & Rigby In 8-Bit Land was reviewed on 3DS using a review copy provided by the publishers.

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