Review by phxDansuke
"A short but epic adventure full of Adventure Time charm."
Adventure Time is such an awesome show. I was a fan of it since a little over two years ago. My little brother was (and still is) obsessed with the show and watched it since the premiere. I wasn't interested at all but after watching a few episodes and learning about its bizarre and dark post-apocalyptic subplot, I got immediately hooked up, and it's my favorite "modern" cartoon. So when me and my brother found out there was a videogame coming soon for the 3DS, being developed by the creators of awesome platformers like Contra 4, Shantae and Aliens Infestation, I knew it was a game that I had to pick up! But was it worth the wait? Does the game live up to the expectations of its fanbase?
The story pretty much screams "Adventure Time", as our hero Finn the Human wakes up to see his garbage being stolen by the Ice King, he decides to go on an epic adventure with his adoptive brother and best friend Jake the Dog, to try and stop the evil Ice King and find out what he wants to do with Finn and Jake's precious garbage. Hey Ice King!'s story is filled with in-jokes, charm and unpredictability. Turning the game into the light-hearted but epic adventure that is the TV show. It's also worth noting that AT's creator Pendleton Ward is responsible for the main story, and was working "very close" to WayForward for this game.
Well for those who don't know, Hey Ice King! is a retro-inspired 2D side-scrolling platformer: WayForward's specialty in my opinion. This game is heavily inspired by various 8-bit platformers; most notably Zelda II. As Finn & Jake wander around the land of Ooo on an overhead view, with monsters lying around the world map. When our protagonists encounter a monster, the game switches to a side-scrolling perspective, where Finn can run, jump and attack with his sword, and his best friend Jake assisting in various types of abilities with his stretching abilities: Stretching his arm to resemble a whip from Castlevania, stretching himself for Finn to use him as a bridge, and other awesome abilities that you can unlock later in the game. Nothing short of what WayForward can do, considering they also made A Boy and His Blob for the Wii. (OH MY BLOB!)
Most of the game is on a side-scrolling perspective, as Finn and Jake wander around different dungeons with the style of Zelda II, but of course, much less difficult than that. The dungeons consists on what you'd expect: kill monsters, solve puzzles, find keys to open locked doors, and fight the boss at the end. While you explore the different dungeons and overworld, you will stumble across treasure chests, which contains a Wizard Star. You can use the Wizard Star to upgrade one of three categories: that way you can upgrade your attack, defense or health. There are many wizard stars hidden throughout the world, but you'll probably get most if not all of them on your first playthrough. In that sense, this game has taken the alreay familiar concept of 2D platformers and put its own twist.
Speaking of twists, one important feature is BMO, your computer-console-robot companion. BMO's function in the game is being an inventory system, as you use the DS's touch screen to touch the items (called "loot") you gain during your adventure. They can make you run faster, make you temporarily invincible, restore health, and other goodies. One of the most interesting aspects of the inventory system is mixing: let's say you get an apple from defeating a candy zombie (remember we're talking about Adventure Time here); adding salt can make the apple restore more health than usual, but if you add ketchup, the results may not be the same; but of course, the ketchup will come in handy when you get a hotdog, just make sure you don't add wildberry jam on it. Adding stuff into your food is really fun, as it makes you curious about what can go better with what food... just make sure you don't do it in real life, it could be painful for your stomach. BMO also serves as a minimap, where you can see the overworld, and as a "movelist", with every move Finn and Jake learns through the adventure.
Every thing you could expect from Adventure Time is here; quirky one-liners, bizarre but cute humor, weird enemies, and videogame references. As I said earlier, there are many in-jokes in this game, specially in your loots' descriptions. Every character is portrayed and act just like they would on the show, so if you're fond of the show, you won't feel like a stranger in this videogame rendition of Ooo. If you watched some few episodes of the show you'll be familiar with the enemies you encounter. Sign Zombies, Icypede, Candy Zombies, even Donny. So if you're a fan, you'll feel right at home when you see characters from the various seasons making a comeback in this game. Although there are certain characters that I would have put into the game, the "cast" of characters chosen for this game is nearly perfect. Whether you see the water nymphs saving your game with bad jokes, or getting to see LSP every once in a while with her trademark "OH MY GLOB!", there won't be a moment in this game, where you don't feel the game is about Adventure Time.
Of course, it's not all about the characters that make this game a pretty good presentation: Finn and Jake will visit various landscapes in this game, being the biggest ones the Grasslands, Ice Kingdom, Candy Kingdom and Red Rock Pass; but you'll still be able to visit some other places like Tree Trunks' house, the Fire Kingdom or the Marauder Village every once in a while.
My biggest grip about the game however is its length. Although you enjoy every moment of the game, you get the feeling that you want more, and that the game is not long enough. It could have been SO! VERY! LARGE! considering the resources they had and the design team behind it, but we only got introduced to 4 dungeons. It kinda lets you down when you load up your save file and see you already got 25% through right after beating the first level. Bummer.
The graphics in this game are simply beautiful. Although this game is not exactly on par with Resident Evil: Revelations or Kid Icarus Uprising, it's a really beautiful game. The background and character designs really resemble the ones from the show, and animations are rich and diverse. The design team behind "Hey Ice King" has made an excellent job in recreating all those place we already grown to love. It's worth noting the person behind the character animations is none other than the same who worked in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World for XBLA and PSN, and that's something you would note every now and then. An ironic thing about the graphics (at least for the 3DS version) is that it has some of the best 3D effects of the system. Having plants and other stuff in the foreground, or having clouds high above in the overworld was a perfect idea that, while it sounds kinda obvious, it's something developers never really thought of pretty well when taking their work to the third dimension. Not even Nintendo with New Super Mario Bros. 2, another 2D plaformer, with its bigger budget and beautiful graphics, could've made a better 3D than Hey Ice King!
The cherry of the "Hey Ice King!" pie in my opinion is the music. Jake Kaufman, the composer behind gems like Retro City Rampage and Double Dragon Neon, really made something worthy of his talent. The music practically screams "8-bit adventuring" like few games I've played. With a healthy doses of 8bit and 16bit-like percussion, heavy basslines, some beatboxing and catchy pseudo-chiptune power-pop tunes, Jake could really bring Ooo back to life with flying colors, and for anyone who waited for the game since the first trailer, they already knew the soundtrack was going to be THIS exceptional. I wouldn't be surprised if Jake actually took his time to watch entire seasons of the show to get inspiration. From the exciting opening theme to the glorious leveling up fanfare, Jake was able to create a soundtrack worthy of the most demanding fanboy.
But of course, it's not only Kaufman's credit. Jeremy Shada (Finn), John DiMaggio (Jake) and Pendleton Ward (LSP) actually helped with voice clips, making the game feel much more authentic. As a quick note, you can listen to the entire soundtrack of the game through SoundCloud for free.
Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! is the game fans of Cartoon Network's hit show had been waiting for years. Having WayForward take charge and Pendleton Ward to supervise was an amazing idea, and the final product actually shows that. However, if you're not a fan of the show, you could probably be turned off because of the absurdingly easy sidequests, not many hidden stuff, kinda dull replay value and length (seriously, you could beat the game in 3-5 hours in a row). However, that doesn't stop the game for being a pretty solid, fun, and enjoyable little platformer with likeable characters, awesome level design and exceptional music, and cheesy one-liners that'll give you a chuckle or to while exploring the unpredictable and algebraic Land of Ooo.
Do you have what it takes to be the greatest hero in all of Ooo?
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/28/13
Game Release: Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?! (US, 11/20/12)
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