Review by Awasai

"Short but Sweet"

Short but Sweet

Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?! is a charming action adventure RPG developed by WayForward and published by D3Publisher. It's based on the hit Cartoon Network show, and the gameplay is an homage to Zelda 2, split between a top down overworld and sidescrolling action portions for buildings, dungeons, passages, and “random” encounters. The game is a lot of fun, with crisp graphics and sound, tight controls, and a globbing ton of rhomboidal references, but suffers from being entirely too short and easy.

Story/World:

The Ice King has stolen Finn and Jake's garbage, and although they don't really care about the garbage itself, the principle of the matter makes them go after him. Playing as Finn (with Jake in your backpack), you journey across the four regions of Ooo in order introduce the Ice King's butt to your foot. That's pretty much it. Not much of a mindblowing story, but it doesn't really have to be, given that this is the first Adventure Time game developed and because of the irreverently whimsical nature of the show itself, where such a story really might be the plot for an episode.

The world at a glance is fairly bare bones (the four regions are distinguishable only by their color palettes), but the game is jam-packed with characters from the show and references galore, including the majority of usable items (excluding food). For this reason, a player will get much more out of the game if he/she is a fan of the cartoon with a good memory and an eye for detail. Dialogue isn't voiced, but it reads in such a genuine way that one can easily imagine each of the characters' voice actors saying the lines. The game is nothing if not faithful to the source material in atmosphere and humor. It's fairly self-aware, and even includes subtle references to classic video games.

Gameplay:

Players traverse the overworld to move from location to location (buildings and passages are marked by distinct sprites in otherwise empty fields) and switch to sidescrolling mode upon entering one of those locations. Finn and Jake interact with NPCs in order to get items and powerups needed to progress, and they fight with a variety enemies in real-time action while traversing connecting passageways and during random encounters (initiated by touching a moving enemy sprite on the overworld, which are so few in number and easily avoided as to be completely ignored if one wishes).

Leveling-up is achieved by finding special treasure chests scattered across the world, and enables players to upgrade Finn's health, attack, or speed, each up to four times. There are no experience points or traditional currency to speak of, although enemies and treasure chests yield a wide range of drop items (food for healing, condiments to augment food, and battle items to temporarily improve your abilities). These items are incredibly common (as are full-heal save points), which means that one will quickly have a full inventory and virtually never be in danger of dying. This is also because the game is incredibly easy, a fact that is only remedied slightly by New Game+, where enemies are beefed up with more HP.

Outside of the action portions, most of the game is spent performing fetch quests. Although it's rarely obvious why a character would want a given item (sure, Treetrunks the apple-loving elephant gets the apples, but who needs a baby's birth certificate or a pie with a dirty sock on it?), the scope of the world is small enough that one will never be too far from the next objective, and one is often told (via dialogue) exactly where to go for the requested item. This is all done in an organic way that never felt too tiresome, though, and often involves using recently acquired abilities to access previously inaccessible locations in areas one has already visited, Metroidvania style. These fetch quests will eventually lead players to the next dungeon and a boss, which are still fun without ever being particularly challenging.

Control:

Interestingly enough, one of the game's best points. Control is tight, clean, and quite satisfying. Fans of the classic Mega Man series or the more recent Super Meat Boy know how to appreciate good control, and should be pleased with the programmers of Adventure Time. Finn moves exactly where one wants him to, and reacts to input with pixel precision. Taking damage or missing an enemy with an attack is always the player's fault, which is by all means a good thing. The incorporation of acquired field abilities into the player's arsenal feels very natural and not at all forced, with easy button combinations that result in enhanced movement and attacks.

Graphics:

Crisp, bright, and with gorgeous colors. NPCs and enemies are simple but effective sprites that pulse, move, and attack smoothly. The overworld is a bit bland (as are the actual platforms of the platforming sections), but the backgrounds are a treat for the eyes that remind me of Rayman's colorful worlds.

I won't hide my disdain for the 3DS as a gimmick machine. I rarely find that the 3D is implemented in an interesting way, and even when it is, I end up forgetting that it's even there within minutes. As such, I couldn't care less about playing Adventure Time with the 3D on. It makes clouds on the overworld pop out and differentiates between the foreground and background in the sidescrolling parts. That's it. Nothing to write home about.

Sound:

Unfortunately, dialogue in the game is not voiced, although we do have a variety of grunts and screams for Finn (when he jumps and attacks) and a few one liners from the more major characters (Finn, Jake, PB, LSP, Ice King). The cries of enemies and sounds of your own attacks are nothing too special, but they get the job done.

The music is a mixed bag; not necessarily in quality, but in variety. The title theme and several others are full-blown songs (with lyrics), while the overworld theme(s) seem to emulate those of NES-era RPGs. Most tracks are catchy enough, with a few that really stood out. The spirit of all the music sticks close to that of the cartoon, and is irreverent in its own way so as to fit the levels and atmosphere quite well.

Difficulty/Length:

Undoubtedly the game's weakest point. It's very easy, and it's very short. I never came close to encountering the game over screen (not even on New Game+), and my first, blind run through only took about 3-4 hours. The game throws an abundance of healing food items and ability-enhancing battle items at the player, but the difficulty never reached a point that required me to use more than a single healing item (during one or two boss battles), and I never in fact used a battle item, because simply brandishing Finn's sword is a more than effective-enough way of defeating enemies and bosses, who all follow simple attack patterns. A world map is acquired early on, and I immediately found myself hoping that some sort of plot twist would reveal an additional four areas or that an in-depth “___ kingdom” might lie beyond the map, out of the player's initial view. But neither of those were the case.

Score:

7/10 for fans
5/10 for non-fans

Final Thoughts:

What we have here, in Adventure Time: HIK! WYSTOG?!, is a stellar engine and framework that perfectly captures the spirit of its truly inspired source material. Everything you need to make a great game is here, but it feels like a skeleton or a prototype of sorts. I wasn't upset when the game turned out to end while still so low on the difficulty level and short on length because I didn't enjoy it. Just the opposite. I enjoyed very much what I did play, so I wanted more. The difficulty curve actually was progressing to the extent that had the game been twice as long, it would have been very satisfying. I can't imagine that the developers were unaware of this, so maybe they were just testing the waters? Waiting for the sales numbers and already planning a bigger and better sequel that takes the outstanding fundamental groundwork laid here and expands it into a full-blown, respectable video game that even non-fans might enjoy? I certainly hope so, because Adventure Time as a franchise has a lot of potential whose surface has only been scratched with this first entry.

Buy, Rent, or Pass?

A definite rent for fans of the show. You'll complete the game in one to two sittings and probably have a lot of fun while doing so, but then it's over. At the very least, wait for a price drop if you want to buy. For non-fans? I'm going to have to say “pass.” Without an understanding and appreciation for all the references, the game will come off as a somewhat boring and very easy fetch-quester/sidescroller.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 01/14/13

Game Release: Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?! (US, 11/20/12)


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