‘Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?!’ Is Short, Simple And Hilarious
I was excited enough about the Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?! game that I sprung for the Collector’s Edition and its big ol’ Enchiridion-lookin’ box. The combination of Adventure Time, WayForward (the developers behind Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Contra 4) and the bits I got to play at conventions this year had me really looking forward to sitting down with my own copy.
After the game came out last week, I spent a few days knocking it out. It’s a good enough time, but when you get right down to it, it’s a pretty average video game that’s made pretty amazing by the story.In terms of gameplay, WayForward does their usual solid job of creating a side-scrolling platformer, but it doesn’t quite feel as finished as a lot of their other games. The biggest flaw in the game is that it’s repetitive — and worse, that it actually feels repetitive. There are only a few designs for enemies that get palette-swapped for the later levels, and most of the game is taken up with fetch quests that involve going back and forth between different locations on the world map, with the actual action only punctuating each segment as you fight through levels. Even the big dungeons themselves are built around a lot of backtracking.
In games like the Castlevania series, there’s just as much backtracking, but it’s made interesting by the clever level design and new abilities that change how you can move through the environment. In Adventure Time, you do get new shape-shifting powers for Jake that give a nice A Boy And His Blob touch to getting past obstacles, but most of them involve just pressing a button in front of a barrier on the world map. It gets to the point where opening up new areas actually feels like a hassle because you’re just giving yourself more areas to backtrack to for quests, and it doesn’t help that you’re intentionally hobbled to draw things out a little more.
Over the course of the game, you level up three stats, Hearts, Strength and Speed. The first two are pretty standard, but the third not only affects how fast you can swing your sword, but how fast you actually move across the world map, which makes the earlier journeys across the land of Ooo pretty achingly slow. Also, while there are some tricky jumping puzzles and tough enemies, healing items are abundant enough that I didn’t bother upgrading health until I’d maxed out the other two, and the only time I really had a problem was fighting Marceline.
It’s also a short game, which I probably should’ve expected since it’s based on an eleven-minute cartoon. You can blow through it on a lazy weekend, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it does seem like a little less of a value when you’re swapping out a 70-hour (and counting) game of Pokémon Black to play it. Throw in the fact that it’s one of those titles that decides to turn into a completely different games for the last level, and it’s got its share of flaws.
Even with all that, though, it’s still not bad. There are a few really nicely designed levels, and the boss fights are all fun and challenging. What really makes it great, though, is the story.
The game perfectly captures all the weird humor (and occasional references to nuclear annihilation) that you get from the cartoon. Even the way Jake is granted his new abilities, by other characters uncomfortably suggesting weird things that he doesn’t want to do over protests that get cut off in mid-sentence by the big “JAKE LEARNED A NEW ABILITY!” screens, is genuinely hilarious. The way the storyline progresses could be an episode of the show — and a good one, at that — which I think is the highest praise you can give a tie-in game.
If you’re a fan of the show, I’d recommend it without reservation. If you’re not, well, the game isn’t going to make you one. It’s not quite good enough to win over the nonbelievers, and if nothing else, you’ll probably be wondering what’s up with the talking houses and hot dogs.
Stay away from that special edition, though. The extras aren’t worth it, even if the stylus shaped like Scarlet the Golden Sword is pretty neat.