I know this game is a bit of old news in March of 2013, but this impromptu review is simply because I just gotta do it! My first reaction when I read about Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?!! was as follows:
Adventure Time in the design or Zelda II (and a little bit of Earthbound)
*holds out fist-full of cash*
“TAKE MY MONEY NOW!”
It was also one of the nicest gifts I’d be given for my birthday last year. I’m a huge fan of the show since the first time I watched it and can’t wait for it to be on Netflix this year. :3 However, the game is not what I’d expected. I knew that it would be based off of Zelda II from the NES, but I hadn’t expected a practical port! My hopes were high for this installment of my vastly growing 3DS collection. Given the material I figured an homage to 8-bit wonders and nostalgia would translate well– I hadn’t expected WayForward to implement primitive gameplay. (Sorry friend who bought it for me!) I don’t hate the game– as a fan I truly enjoyed it. But I’m not here to relay my personal preferences as much as I am here to be as unbiased as humanly possible.
I am calling troll on Adventure Time for a simple fact: it hasn’t implemented any of the advancements we’ve come to enjoy in games (e.g.checkpoints and being able to load and save in the middle of a level) But it has embraced its capability to use 3D which adds NOTHING to the ease of playing or the value of the world. Many disagree with me on this– in most reviews I’ve read they praise the effect the 3D lends. In my opinion it was a cheap gimmick and did little more other than waste the Nintendo 3D’s already crap battery. What Adventure Time the game did right was its sincere approach to retro style despite this particular brand of 8-bit being consorted to a past era of gaming.
For fun that never ends– Adventure Time!
A lot of newer games (sometimes reluctantly) embrace retro style from an aesthetic perspective without actually understanding why these aesthetics are still popular in the first place. Rest assured that this Nintendo handheld game didn’t merely hark back towards visual cues from the 80’s and the NES, it actually was a retro NES game– all the way, meaning the gameplay & action. Playing in reality proved to be very hard because of it. It took me a long time readjust to NES physics. To give an example, do you remember in older games when you would jump and press forward the character would move an equal distance? Even though there is no traction in there air? (Fuck logic) Newer games typically don’t allow for this (maybe a little momentum at best) because the newer games aim to mimic life more closely. (Logic is so not algebraic anyway) Within this installment of Adventure Time you need to forget how newer games have pampered us. While the controls work they way the had when I (and the industry) were younger– I’m struggling to adjust and in the mean time poor Finn keeps dying! I understand why stylistically WayForward Studios chose the old school scenery– but not why they implemented the old school controls. It was a bad call, they’re so damn frustrating! That’s why controls have been systematically improved upon in the first place!
Fuck the New School, right?
The most serious setback would be the mandatory backtracking though levels…. while still having to fight the enemies all over again. I believe this was intended so you can always go back and get items from fallen foes… but I’m also a bit of an optimist when I really want to like something. Once you get stronger it’s not a big deal, but in the beginning it’s really really annoying. You start off without any weapons and this is a real bother until you obtain Jake’s bat and Finn’s sword. Major functions were a little “off” as well. At times it felt like although they abandoned the modern mechanical improvements, they’d forced other features unatturally (e.g. mixing together enemy’s dropped items with the touch screen), as to capitalize on the 3DS’s touch screen capabilities.
I’ll end this on a light note… I know it may seem as such after I just bashed this piece for most of the article. I did like the game– it was just unnecessarily difficult. (There is no hard like NES hard kids). On the plus side the land of Ooo is seen from the sky (just like God see’s a post-apocalyptic world). The third person camera and the 2D (even though it’s “3D”– it’s really not) graphics and camera are reminiscent of Zelda II’s Hyrule (if you’re unfamiliar think Pokemon). When you’re in a level or world you’re seamlessly transitioned into a 2D side-scrolling platform (also like Zelda II or Super Mario). I was inclined towards the storyline– in fact the storyline is what I enjoyed best. Pendleton Ward (the show’s creator) was intensely involved in the game’s writing. It didn’t just nod to the show, it is almost another epic adventure packed episode! There isn’t much of any audible dialogue (if you will count the introduction soundbites) but the show’s vigor and essence are very much prominent throughout the journey. I can’t emphasize enough how the dialogue is actually funny. It caters to the fandom of Adventure Time very favorably – and for that it was so worth playing. When you complete the game you’re challenged to a second adventure which promises to be even more radical– but I’d just had enough at the time… I’m sure I’ll go back to it later and write about the experience. Till then Happy Gaming!
Overall, I’d give Adventure Time: 8/10– Are you confused? Well, that’s my rating as an Adventure Time fan who can vaguely remember what actual 8 and 16 bit games were like. As a fan what it lacked in mechanics it made up for in sharp writing and fan appreciation.