Review: Adventure Time on 3DS channels its inner Zelda II
Adventure Time is somewhat of a strange phenomenon. On the outside, you have a very childish looking cartoon with vibrant colors, cute characters and offbeat stories. Digging deeper though, you'll start to realize that Adventure Time is littered with references that kids just won't get, ranging from video games to pop culture. Also, Lady Rainicorn speaks Korean. Awesome!
It just makes sense that Adventure Time would make the transition to video game form. Although we still have yet to experience Finn and Jake's antics on an HDTV, what we get is a pretty awesome action game on the DS and 3DS in the style of Zelda II.
The obnoxiously titled, Adventure Time: Hey Ice King, Why'd you steal our garbage?!! stars the mathematical duo, Finn and Jake on an adventure to reclaim their stolen garbage possessions from the Ice King. The offbeat story certainly matches the shows randomness, and fans are likely to appreciate that. The problem is that the story never really becomes anything. It's filled with humorous one liners that are sure to incite a chuckle out of you, but you'll find yourself wanting more out this short-lived adventure.
The format matches Zelda II quite well. Towns and adventure areas play out as a sidescroller while traversing the world map is done through an overworld, complete with random monster spawns. Aside from acquiring various environmental skills to unlock access to new areas, that's about where the parallels end between Zelda II and Adventure Time.
The biggest change, which is one of the game's downfalls, is the lack of experience points. The only way to progress Finn and Jake's stats are by finding hidden chests with stars in them. Once found, you can either increase your overall health, attack damage, or running speed. However aside from these upgrades, fighting other enemies doesn't provide any sort of bonuses outside of random pick ups. It wasn't long after that until I started to just hop over enemies to get to the next area, instead of mowing them all down.
This is a shame considering the combat is actually fun. You have your standard attacks as Finn and his trusty Golden Sword, Scarlet, and then special attacks (that you unlock as you progress) with Jake, such as him shielding Jake from projectiles, or turning into a giant fist and slamming down on the ground.
There is also no equipment to speak of in the game, however there is a lot of one-time use loot which further boosts Finn or Jake's abilities. Items like apples, ice cream sundaes, pancakes, and other food items will regain your health, while items like swords will increase the attack power for a short amount of time. The interface, which cleverly uses BMO as its UI, allows for item combinations to further enhance their potency. A pancake might restore only half of a heart, but dragging and dropping syrup onto the pancake will restore much more health. Not all combos are recommended however, and some will actually decrease Finn's health.
If there was one mechanic that I found refreshing in Adventure Time, is the fact that you're never really given any sort of guidance on where to go and what to do. While this might put off some gamers, namely younger fans of the show, it really is an awesome throwback to Zelda II and its open gameplay. Immediately after the short controls tutorial, you're thrust into the Land of Ooo with no indication of where to go next. Nostalgia fans will definitely appreciate this approach to the game's design.
Kudos to Wayforward for the amazing representation of Adventure Time more as a retro game. Each and every character, of which you'll recognize plenty, look gorgeous on the handheld, and the same can be said for the environment design. It's not exactly large by any means, and this is another complaint of mine I'll get to soon, but the various lands represented in the game certainly match the vibrancy of the different lands found in the show.
The 3DS version looks fairly identical to its DS counterpart, apart from having a widescreen format. The 3D effects aren't game changing, but also aren't jarring. Basically each and every piece of the background is layered behind each other to create a very nice looking backdrop to each and ever level.
Seeing as how many adventures Finn and Jake went on in the show, it's a little disheartening that the overworld map is very small, and therefore the game is actually not that long. This might be the game's biggest offense. With so much source material, there really is no excuse for the game being as short as it is, let along replaying it and actually knowing where to go. Maybe it's because Pendleton Ward is used to writing shorter stories for the show, or maybe there wasn't enough development time to make it longer, but whatever the case may be, it should definitely be longer.
With that said, fans of Adventure Time, like myself, are absolutely going to eat it up. It doesn't quite match the awesomeness of the show, but it does pay homage to a classic game, while being as quirky and random as Adventure Time can possibly get.
[Reviewed on Nintendo 3DS]