If there was ever a game to buy based on its tie-in alone, it would be Adventure Time. I'm a diehard fan who regularly reads and keeps up on its lore. I'm the fan who knows the contextual history of the Great Mushroom War and its affect on the future denizens of Ooo. So I was prepared to forgive WayForward's game of a few mistakes that would inevitably make it a mediocre game.
But boy, I was not prepared for just how many problems I was about to forgive. It is truly a game I want to like but have serious reservations about saying I like it.
Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd you steal our garbage
opens up like any other game really. You're visited by the Cosmic Owl who proceeds to obliterate you as Jake insults his poots. Finn wakes up from another one of those death dreams, he realizes it's time to start the day. So after Jake hops into your pack and saying he's feeling super lazy, you start a combat tutorial which involves smashing ugly teacups in Jakes's secret basement.
As soon as you set foot outside after a tutorial which involves smashing ugly teacups, you find out Ice King outside doing precisely what was described on the box art; he's stolen your garbage and shaping it into the saddest excuse for a princess this side of Lumpy Space. Instead of just letting it go, the duo decide to chase Ice King to kick his butt and teach him a lesson. Remember kids! Stealing garbage is a federal offense in some states!
Federal offense pound!
He revolves around a world map with Finn and Jake travelling around with Earthbound-throw back sprites. Whenever you enter an area or run into a random encounter, you transition to a 2D platformer where Finn generally jumps and beats the tar out of anything evil, from Signboard Zombies to rabbits with swords tied to their heads. There are also towns to visit as well where you can talk and hear AT's signature weird banter. Progressing the game are thinly veiled fetch quests where you either grab a quest thing or X number of quest things before Jake is prodded into learning a new tricks that will help you traverse into new areas. You'll also open chests that rewards Jake with new moves but that's not as funny forcing Jake turn into a giant to crush walls by guilt tripping him into setting an example for some of Ooo's skinnier residents.
The problem with AT is something longtime gamers should already be familiar with: fetch quests. The game regularly pads its playtime by asking you to retrieve items from areas you have previously visited. Usually it's something funny, like finishing Chet's candy pizza delivery to Starchy, using the receipt to prove he had an alibi up to the point he was imprisoned. Still, when you near the end game and you're tasked with visited all the previous lands for more quest items, it'll reek of lazy quest design. Even if you do get to see some neat AT fan service or references.
The combat can be forgiven of its simplistic nature, even though games like Castlevania have quite the brilliant 2D combat system. Unfortunately, I don't have a 3DS, so I played the game on the DS with its tinny speakers. Holmes probably enjoyed his review
copy a great deal due to playing on the superior 3DS version but make no mistake, if you play on the scaled back DS version, all of the sound bytes from the game will suck you right out of the experience.
But all of this should be expected really. Move past the fact that it's a game based on everyone's favorite cartoon and you essentially strip it down to being a cartoon tie-in property. Of course there would be some things I'd disagree with. But while Holmes was awfully forgiving of this, I felt it was simply unforgivable.
It's a short adventure.
What the lump man?
No, I wasn't expecting some 40 hour epic. Not even 20. I probably would've enjoyed 15 or 16 hours. But I beat it in less than a day in terms of day-to-day gaming. I worked 14 hours between the two days. I beat the singe-player adventure in a little under 9 hours or less. And let me remind you that few of those hours were spent backtracking for fetch quests. I simply felt that if this game went over 3 seasons worth of characters and context, it could've been a longer game. Somehow I felt there could've been more than the four included lands of the Grass Lands, Candy Kingdom, Red Rock Pass, and Ice Kingdom. There could've been more of the Cloud Kingdom or the Fire Kingdom. Maybe some more mysterious ruins the likes of which Finn and Jake explore several times in the show. There's the Desert of Doom from the Royal Tart episode. And what about Lumpy Space?
Maybe I would've enjoyed the game's production value more if I had played the 3DS version. But everything else should be identical to the DS version. It's a short, passable game with constant fetch quests and it leaves me with a sense of longing. Like a son I never had.
Seriously. Fire Kingdom. It could've been awesome!
If I had to recommend it, I'd only do so to super diehard fans or children, which is probably the target demographic for the game. If you're only a casual fan looking for a meaty video game experience though, I'd have to exclude Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd you steal our garbage. Holmes has a point, it has the feel of something you could've downloaded for $15 but instead I took home the $50 collector's version.
I might just sell it when I get a 3DS and try the experience again there (keeping my collector's edition junk of course. It'll fit in my steelcase Enchiridion!) but I won't hold my breath that it'll blow my mind anew.
(note: I am slightly bitter that Flame Princess literally only has one significant scene. Finn and FP is the best thing ever.)