Developer: WayForward / Publisher: D3 Publisher / Played On: 3DS / Price: $29.99 / ESRB: Everyone
It’s clear that Adventure Time: Hey Ice King? Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?!! has one of the greatest subtitles of all time, but what isn’t clear is why it took the series so long to stretch Jake’s extendable legs to the world of video games. Colorful landscapes, quirky characters, and inspiration lifted from video games seem to make the Cartoon Network series a shoe-in for a successful video game transition. Paying homage to classic video games and retaining nearly everything that makes the series equal parts entertaining and ridiculous, Adventure Time: Hey Ice King is a game fans of the series will enjoy, even if it only lasts a few hours. . Even so, I ask thee this: What time is it?
Not only is this game’s title downright silly, it’s also an indicator of the game’s entire plot. After waking from a rather frightening nightmare, the human boy Finn and his dog Jake venture outside their home to find that their garbage has been mysteriously stolen by the Ice King. The frozen troublemaker only gives Finn and Jake a poorly written riddle to steer them in the right direction to reclaim their waste. Seeing as they have nothing better to do, the duo set out across the Land of Ooo to recover their garbage, thwart the Ice King’s plans, and make it back in time to go to bed. Along their way Finn and Jake will encounter familiar characters series fans will recognize, such as Princess Bubblegum, the Earl of Lemongrab, and even the floating wolf head called Party God.
You’ll need to talk to a lot of characters during your quest, as characters give you information about what to do next as well as provide you with the necessary item you need to move forward, like a smelly old sock or gummy dog with a candy cane key wedged into its stomach. The story completely captures the essence of the Adventure Time cartoon series, right down to the crazy storylines, off-the-wall dialogue, and truly bizarre art style. For those of you not familiar with the cartoon series, your enjoyment out of the story (and largely the entire game) will stem from your familiarity of the source material.
Adventure Time features two distinct perspectives and play styles. While wandering around the overworld map a top-down perspective shows points of interest to explore like towns and dungeons. When entering said town or dungeon the perspective shifts to a side scrolling, 2D perspective akin to Zelda II: The Adventure of Link on the NES.
You control Finn and Jake at the same time. Finn runs, jumps, attacks, and maneuvers around the stage, while Jake lends his special shape-shifting abilities to the fray, like turning into an umbrella to float further while jumping, or turning his leg into a giant fist to destroy previously unbreakable walls. As you play through the game you unlock more abilities for Jake which aid in combat and exploration, as well as level up Finn to increase his attack, health, and movement speed. It’s all very basic and makes the game incredibly easy to pick up and play, regardless of skill.
Unfortunately that easiness comes as one of the game’s biggest faults. Enemies put up little to no challenge, with only the final boss offering any semblance of difficulty. Regular enemies oftentimes sit there like rocks and don’t move (some enemies, in fact, are rocks), and when they do damage Finn they take away so little health that you won’t even notice. Even if you do get into some trouble with health, enemies frequently drop health power-ups like apples and milkshakes that you can consume to regain lost hit points. After the initial excitement of defeating worms with happy faces wears off you’ll find yourself jumping over enemies to avoid conflict to get from point A to point B faster.
There are also some attack power-ups you can collect as well. These include items from the show like ice shurikens and other goodies like a habanero which causes Finn to spit fire. Since the game is incredibly easy these special abilities seems almost like a joke and I only used them simply to free up space in my inventory.
I can’t help but feel like the game missed a lot of chances to be more challenging. There are some great ideas here that don’t feel as fleshed out as they should have been. Also, the game is on the short side. I completed the story in one sitting, which clocked in around four hours. A New Game+ mode becomes available upon completion of the game, which essentially doubles each enemy’s HP, but since you retain Finn’s current level the ramp in difficulty is superficial. The gameplay is easily the biggest let down for both fans of the series and RPG gamers looking for something to play: there just isn’t enough here to keep you entertained for more than a weekend.
There are two stories to tell in the sound department with Adventure Time: HIKWYSOG: sound effects and the soundtrack. The sound effects you’d expect to hear are all there, like Finn saying “Hi-yah!” as he jumps in the air, or that satisfying squelch of metal on flesh with each successful attack. There is, however, another very large missed opportunity: voice acting. The cartoon series consistently delivers solid voice acting with standout performances from the likes of John Di Maggio as Jake, which makes it disappointing to not hear these voices in the game. There are some sound bytes sprinkled throughout the story, but it’s a point to aim for with future titles.
The other major aspect of sound is the soundtrack, which features some truly original tunes. My favorites include the Marauder village which chants “Be manly!” over and over, as well as the ending theme which recounts your entire adventure in song form. Not all the songs here are golden, as some of the overworld tunes are repetitive, but when the soundtrack matches the dramatic imagery on screen the game is in its best form. Also of note, the level up jingle is one of the best I’ve heard, possibly dethroning Final Fantasy. Mathematical!
The colorful presentation and design of the TV series translates well to the video game. Characters look identical to their cartoon counterpart, with spaghetti-like appendages and simplistic models. Whether in town or on the overworld map, backgrounds are bright and varied. Dark purples and black adorn the graveyard which is right next to the fantastic candy castle. The visuals reminded me of Super Mario World for the SNES with its varied use of color and backdrops. Overall the game looks just like the cartoon, which certainly isn’t bad considering the loopy characters and worlds they live in are what make the cartoon great..
Adventure Time: Hey Ice King? Why’d You Steal Our Garbage is a solid game but feels more suited for a downloadable title than a full retail game given its brevity. Proven gameplay mechanics and the wacky sense of humor that is Adventure Time make the game a blast to play from start to finish. Just don’t expect to be playing it all that long.
+ Fantastic soundtrack and original songs
+ Easy to pick up and play for beginning and expert players
– But insultingly easy difficultly and incredibly short story make it hard to recommend to anyone other than Adventure Time fans
7 / 10