If you’ve been reading Destructoid with any regularity, you know that we love us some Adventure Time. I side quite happily with my Dtoid kin, having been enamored with the program for some time now.
Perhaps it was meant to be. Before I ever watched the show, someone told me that if I was to have a theme song, it would be the Adventure Time theme, to which I chuckled sans context, but, now in the know, can’t help but agree with.
As a fan, I was as stoked as anyone to hear about an Adventure Time game penned by Pendleton Ward himself and developed by the lovingly retro folks over at WayForward. When I saw a giant, inflatable Finn and Jake eclipsing South Hall at E3, I was sad to find the game wouldn’t be playable. However, I was finally able to get my hands on the Zelda II-inspired brawler crawler and it’s glorious.
Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?! (DS, 3DS [previewed])
Pendleton Ward has a firm affinity for video games, putting the deliciously named Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?! in the enviable situation of a being a game adaptation of a successful property with direct input from the original creator. Ward wrote the story and signed off on WayForward’s original soundtrack, yielding a game that, from the onset, absolutely feels like you’re in an episode of the show.
Hey Ice King! begins in Finn and Jake’s unmistakable tree house, with the pair waking up from a bad dream involving the enigmatic Cosmic Owl. Jake suggests Finn go down to a never-before-seen secret basement to smash things in order to raise his spirits and so begins the tutorial, following an adorable appearance by BMO, who chooses to join his pals on the adventure of the day as the touch screen, which serves as a map, loot screen, and stat layout.
Down in the basement, you can smash teacups to your heart’s content (actually, I expected more) while learning the system, which is undoubtedly familiar to someone who’s played a 2D sidescroller. Y to punch (mash it quickly for a combo), down Y for a crouched kick, B to jump, down B for a slide attack, and so on. While you play through the game as Finn, Jake tags along, lazily nestling himself into Finn’s backpack, from where he can use his wonderfully stretchy arms for a weaker long range punch, with X. As the adventure progresses, Jake’s enthusiasm goes up and he’ll employ new powers, like the ability to make bridges for Finn to cross gaps over interminable trenches. Finn will also gain access to his sword later in the game, allowing him to dice up chumps.
Once you get out of the tutorial, outside you’ll find your garbage mysteriously missing and who’s to blame? The Ice King, naturally, who has pilfered your garbage in order to construct a garbage princess. Finn resolves to track down the Ice King to find out what he’s up to and to teach him a lesson about stealing garbage. After a brief stop at a screen with water nymphs at a fountain explaining that these locations are where you can restore your health and save your game, it’s off to the world map, a top-down sort of overworld right out of an RPG. There are four areas of Ooo to explore, including Candy Kingdom, the Ice Kingdom, Red Rock Pass, and starting with the grasslands.
On the overworld, you can stop at landmarks that stand in for Adventure Time locales, at which point you’re transitioning back into the 2D, sidescrolling view and able to talk to denizens and accept sidequests. Visiting the Village of the Housies, I met up with Princess Bubblegum, who told me there was a map cartridge hidden around that she could install in BMO if found; I heard that Donnie was causing trouble again, stealing mail; and I met a dog-house’s owner who informed me a big blue guy flew over and gave the dog fleas. While the central story thread involves solving Ice King’s riddles to catch up to the abominable no-man, you can essentially do what you like, when you like, albeit some of Ooo is restricted until Jake’s special powers are unlocked.
Also on the overworld are floating shadows that represent random enemy encounters. Touch a shadow and you go into a 2D battle mode, in which you must kill all the things. Delightfully, someone has started strapping knives to bunnies and hammers to turtles, so they rank among your enemies, along with expected Adventure Time staples, like those obnoxious worms, King Worms, and dumb rocks. Clearing the space of enemies yields a chest, which vomits loot out with hilarious force.
From the overworld, you’ll also have to go through transitional “dungeons” to get to different parts. Tracking down Donnie, for example, required me to go through one to get up to a higher hill. These dungeons are long, 2D stretches filled with enemies, some mild platforming, and occasional treasure, though you don’t have to off each enemy to reach the end.
From BMO’s loot screen, you have access to healing items -- food -- which can be combined with condiments to great effect. Combing a hamburger and a ketchup bottle, for example, creates a restorative item that yields full health, whereas the hamburger on its own only gives you a fraction. Certain combinations, however, can actually drain your health. Apparently putting syrup on a cupcake was a bad idea, but it sounded good in my head.
From the loot screen, you also have easy access to power-ups, which generally last about 20-30 seconds and give Finn some sort of boost, like quicker attack speeds or higher jumps. There are also some light RPG elements in the form of collectible wizard stars, which can be used to upgrade your base stats (health, strength, speed). Finding one also makes an empowering tune play, though it’s not as great as the Finn and Jake boss battle victory dance.
It’s great, of course, to have more of an idea of how the base gameplay is going to pan out, with WayForward’s staple retro sensibilities coupled with Adventure Time flair. That last part is most important, however. Undoubtedly thanks to Ward’s collaboration and story writing, playing Hey Ice King! feels so much like watching an episode of the show. I was chuckling consistently while reading dialogue steeped in the show’s distinct lexicon and linguistic style. Seeing familiar faces, like the pitiful Neptr, or hearing LSP say “Oh my GLOB” in one of the game’s voiced one liners, makes you feel right at home if you’re a fan of the series.