I’ll admit to being extremely cynical of this being a thing. I mean, WayForward, a developer who is very good at what they do, even if the end product can be a little light on content. Working on a game based on Adventure Time, one of my favorite shows of all time. With the subtitle of “Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?!” Sounded, at least to me, like it was something that could easily end up becoming something that was trying way too hard in being an “accurate” adaptation of the game. And I can safely say that is not the case by a long short.
Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?! Review
Release Date: 20/11/2012
Platforms: 3DS(Reviewed), DS
Developer: WayForward Technologies
Publisher: D3 Publisher
To inform people who have not watched the show, which I would recommend you remedy, seeing as how the game is built around the established characters. The game centers around the adventure loving duo of Jake the Shapeshifting Dog and Finn the Human, who live in the magical land of Ooo. Where there are people made of candy, hot dogs, and houses, along with talking green elephants the size of basketballs that bake pies, and that’s just scratching the surface. With the main antagonist, at least for this game and the beginning of the show, being the Ice King, an old man who can fly by flapping his beard, and likes to kidnap princesses, because he is surrounded by penguins all day long, and wants to talk to someone other than them.
And he has gotten so desperate that he needs to steal Finn and Jake’s garbage and make some princesses out of it. Well, it is not so simple, but his plot is not really what makes this journey worth going on. Rather, it is the side stuff. Now, Adventure Time has a very large cast of easily recognizable characters who are given personality through either exceptional writing or voicework, and as a fan, just seeing them get idle sprites in a game is enough for me, all the better if the writing does actually feel like something out of the show. To the point where I can count at least fifteen times where I verbally laughed out loud, when I doubt there are more than five pages of actual dialog.
It is hard to pinpoint the charm of Adventure Time, yet that is because it is oozing out pretty much everywhere, and based on the dialog, it is pretty clear that the writer was indeed a big fan of the show. Hell, everyone was, but I’ll get to that later. I can best summarize that what I enjoy most is the mix between innocence, joy, and tragedy across the entire show. Although, the tragedy angle was not really brought up until the more recent episodes, which this game does not acknowledge since it was being made as the episodes were also being made. It creates a world that makes me want to stay in more, and having that be embodied in a game is a wonderful feeling.
However, my fears were indeed averted, because the gameplay is actually pretty sweet. Most have compared this title to Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and it is certainly a good starting point. Seeing as how the game is also a side scrolling sword swinging fantasy adventure, where you gain levels, traverse an overhead overworld while avoiding spawned encounters of shadowy figures, and collect lots of goodies. In fact, they even put in a pretty in-depth inventory system where you can collect several power-ups and health items that are at least based on the show, like Billy’s Sword, the Everything Burrito, Royal Tart, and Tiger Claw.
You can also even mix some of them, from bad combinations, like a salty apple, to good combinations like a pie with jam on it. Not that these are really needed during the game’s one difficulty setting, but their inclusion then encourages you to experiment since hey, you won’t be using these anyhow, might as well make the game more enjoyable for you. Well, there is a New Game+ mode where the baddies get double health, providing a greater challenge.
Still, that does not enable me to look over how the game is only about 5 hours long. I beat the game, while searching for everything that was a side quest, or just an item in the middle of an island. Granted, the five hours is still a very enjoyable quest where you traverse the four most prominent locations within the show, and gather new abilities for Jake in both of the overworld, and the main game, and stat level ups for Finn. And in the end, I suppose it is just a very old-school style title title about a boy and a dog in his backpack, going on a journey where you are constantly advancing in multiple ways, maintaining a steady pace of rewards.
Even though there are some areas where I feel like there are only about 12 designers trying to do the most within a year, the journey is very polished, and has next to no fat. Granted, I do have a few gripes, like inventory management not being accessible while pausing, ducking while on some platforms can be difficult, it being easy to accumulate a lot of damage if you mess up, enemies just being a hazard, et cetera. However, these are merely small dents in a wonderfully made structure, because oh glob, that presentation.
Now, WayForward has some good ties with some stunningly good sprite animators. Here, they got probably the best three they could get into contact with, Paul Robertson, who many might remember as the guy who did the spritework for Scott PIlgrim Vs. The World. Joakim “Konjak” Sandberg, who I dare you to tell me is not great at what he does if this trailer for his latest title is any indication. And Shiho Tsutsuji, who you might know as the guy who did some of the sprite work for the beautiful GBA and DS Kirby games, and the 2D Fire Emblem titles. All paired up with designs that, while simple, I find to be absolutely lovely, and you’ve got one stellar looking title right there. Sure, the backgrounds can be a bit boring after a while, namely some caves. And there are only 28 unique enemy designs, at least according to my collector’s edition bonus. However, I’d be damned to find a title, let alone a budget title, that looked this smooth and overall good in terms of sprite work, or 2D art in general.
Oh, and Jake Kaufman composed this ‘ere bad boy, bringing with his bombastic beats to liven this game up, supply appropriate ambiance, and even a song by one of the voice actors from the series. Hell, I loved the game instantly from the Title Theme, which made me literally shake with glee. However, I cannot deny how having even the little bits of voice acting that are present make the game all the better. It is only a few lines or grunts, but it is certainly enough to get engrossed into the world, especially if you are already familiar with these characters.
As a product that I paid $40 for the collector’s edition, I can admit that Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?! is a bit light on content. And a good bit of it is a bit stripped down, as if they only had about 12 guys and 12 months to make this game. With the engine already built and brought over from Shantae: Risky’s Revenge and Mighty Switch Force. Just look at these pictures are from a build back in August, the map screen and overworld are notably different from the final product, and the background is mostly absent from one.
As a downloadable $15 title, that would be fine, seeing as even though I was lost before I tried to make a sock pie, and I spent a while just listening to the title theme, I barely passed 5 hours. While Shantae: Risky’s Revenge took me nearly twice as long, and it was just $12, while being pretty close in terms of quality. Although, I think that the distributor, Cartoon Network Interactive, wanted this to be a retail title regardless, so I’m just going to blame them. Keep in mind, the quality that is in the package prevented me from feeling “ripped off”. And in the end, it is not all that different from the TV show, it is a short little burst of greatest that instead of leaving you hungry, fills you up, yet wanting more for the next time. And I hope that there is indeed a next time.
As it stands, the amount of care that went into this game is remarkable, from the simple but addictive gameplay, to the immense charm being recaptured from the show, to the wonderful presentation values. Minor picks aside, and keeping the price in mind, the only truly bad thing about this game is the price, and for a licensed game, that is pretty darn marvelous.
An impressive product, won’t always astound due to a fair number of flaws, but is very enjoyable and worth a purchase.
Posted on Tuesday, because now stuff will get posted when its done! Well, two days for me to get away from it and then tweak some things I did not like. …Buy this game! …Please?