Adventure Time, come on grab your friends! We’ll go to very distant lands. With Jake the Dog and Finn the Human, the fun will never end… if you’re already a fan of Adventure Time.
As someone who’s watched (and enjoyed) a handful of Adventure Time cartoons, I can see that this DS/3DS adventure game was made explicitly for fans of the Cartoon Network show. If you know who the Lumpy Space Princess and Donny the Grass Ogre are, you’re sure to have a blast seeing all of them incorporated into this hysterical, slapstick story. On the other hand, if you’ve never heard of the show, or only have a passing interest in it – like me – you’ll find Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage!!? to be average at best. That’s because the game doesn’t bring much more to the table than its cartoon and video game humor.
That’s not to say the game doesn’t have any of its own charm. At heart, Adventure Time is a classic adventure game with lots of retro style thrown in the mix. In fact, the gameplay is heavily inspired by The Legend of Zelda II, with RPG-style world exploration mixed with side-scrolling combat stages. Half the time, the music feels like it was ripped straight out of an original NES title, the other half feels like it came from the awesome Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World soundtrack.
The graphics do a great job of capturing the animation style of the cartoon. Every attack is smooth and fun to watch. It even puts the 3D to good use to have the foreground pop out in a very attractive way. There’s also tons of variety in what you’ll see on-screen, with enemies ranging from undead pastries to angry rocks, along with lots of colorful locations.
The story is funny and is basically explained right in the title. One night, while Finn and Jake were sleeping in their super-cool tree fort, their arch rival, Ice King, stole all their garbage. Offended by the mere thought of the Ice King rummaging through their refuse (and maybe just looking for any excuse to adventure) the heroic duo have to get it back. Yeah, silly, but it’s no worse than the plot to every Mario game, and it makes about as much sense as most RPGs today, which is probably the point.
As the heroes embark on their quest, you’ll explore the land of Ooo, with towns and dungeons scattered about. Once you run into a location or randomly spawned foe on the top-down map, the game switches to action mode. Here, you control a Banjo-Kazooie-style tag team with Finn carrying his lazy friend in a backpack. Finn does most of your basic attacks such as slide kicks and punches, and he eventually gets a sword to swing around. Jake is more of a utility knife, with numerous unlcokable powers you’ll need to advance through the game. For example, Jake can use his big floppy ears as a shield against strong wind and ranged attacks.
These stages start off suitably easy (as in, fit for a 5-year-old easy) but the difficulty never ramps up. In fact, as you level up and unlock powers, it actually gets easier. Making matters worse, some stages connect two locations on the map, meaning you have to play through them multiple times if you want to go back and forth across the map. Even boss fights are pitifully simple and boring. By the time I was 25% through the game, I realized I was just rushing through stages as fast as possible, hoping the next would be a little more interesting. But none of them had any meat to them. Just run in, find the special item, go to boss. Ironic, considering the game’s inspiration (Zelda 2) was so notoriously difficult.
Not all the locations are made for battle. There are tons of towns and iconic locations from the show too. Even I enjoyed the chance to meet the Roughhousing Marauders and the Candy Kingdom’s many colorful characters. This is important, because you’ll spend as much time doing quests, like finding the Bubblegum Princess’ stolen pantyhose, as you will jumping around dungeons. Again, these are pretty straightforward and simple affairs where you need to run over to a certain action level, fetch an item and return.
What makes me sad is that I know some incredibly imaginative people worked on this game, but I feel like they thought it was good enough to just play up the brand, flash some jokes to the fans, and leave fun gameplay out of the equation. I don’t think ATHIKWYSOG!!? is an especially bad game, it’s just a disappointingly mediocre one. If you are already a fan of the show’s weird humor and references, that’s probably enough to make this game enjoyable. But as someone on the borderline of Adventure Time fandom, I feel left out and wishing this game tried harder to make me like it.