Way back in 2007 a peculiar little animated short was shown to me by a good friend. The short was bizarre, quirky, and incredibly rhombus. Yes, it was Pendleton Ward's Adventure Time that, nearly seven years later, is now bringing its offbeat love of math and language to people worldwide as the number one show on Cartoon Network.
For the handful of patoots out there who have never seen the show it is very much a love letter to classic fantasy adventures like Dungeons and Dragons but with a modern twist. Adventure Time centers on a boy named Finn and his dog Jake as they explore a brightly colored post-apocalyptic Earth called Ooo. Fans of the show will finally get a chance to explore the Land of Ooo and interact with all (and I mean all) of their favorite characters this Fall with Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?!!! for the Nintendo DS and 3DS.
The most notable thing about Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?!!! is how much it feels like the show. Creator Pendleton Ward, a game lover himself, penned the game's story, provided the characters' dialogue, sent the staff original doodles, spoke in character voices, and approved everything that went into the game to ensure it was as authentic an Adventure Time experience as possible. What's more all of the developers are fans themselves, pointing out every detail in the game (and the couple of episodes we watched together) that only a hardcore fan could appreciate. This isn't your run of the mill cartoon tie-in game.
The game features an original score, including a new version of the show's opening theme, and even a Final Fantasy-esque victory anthem incorporating the main theme that Finn dances to after defeating bosses. The Land of Ooo is faithfully recreated in the game, with every location being exactly where fans of the show will expect them to be. If you've got a favorite character from the show, no matter how small, they will likely show up here. In the demo alone I saw Finn, Jake, BMO (who occupies the DS and 3DS touch screen with stats, maps, and options), House People, Water Nymphs (who act as the game's save points), Hot Dog Knights, Hot Dog Princess, Donny the Grass Ogre, Lump Space Princess, Princess Bubblegum, Neptr, Raggedy Princess, Worms, King Worm, Cosmic Owl, and the Ice King. While the game regrettably doesn't feature full voice acting, characters do have their iconic voices for one-liners and key phrases.
Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage!? is, rather appropriately, an adventure game reminiscent of classic titles like Zelda 2. Players control Finn (with a backpack riding Jake playing Kazooie to Finn's Banjoe) in sprite-based 2D sidescrolling worlds connected via a show-accurate top-down overworld map filled with roaming enemies, treasures, and secret areas. The 2D graphics capture the show's vibe superbly, and look absolutely incredible with the depth of field that the 3DS version offers.
The gameplay is simple yet intuitive, with traditional platforming controls mixed with more complex button combos that can be unlocked as the game progresses. There is a taste of RPG here, with Finn's stats (heart, speed, and attack) and abilities being upgradable over time. Different weapons become available over time, Finn's trademark sword for instance, and Jake learns new abilities through songs that he learns over the course of the game. While the gameplay is simple beneath the hood it's got its fair share of complexity, offering plenty of room for more advanced players.
The game offers a linear storyline to follow, but the game is very much a free-exploration quest-based affair. Players have clear objectives, but can freely explore as much of the world as is available to them at the time. In fact, developers emphasized the importance of exploration as one of the game's biggest features. During my play-time with the demo I was sent by the House People to go after Donny the Grass Ogre, which I could do at any time, but found my way to an unrelated forest first where Lumpy Space Princess and Raggedy Princess gave me an upgrade that proved useful in the eventual fight.
Exploration is also heavily encouraged in the game's condiment system. Yes, I said condiments. Many different kinds of foods and condiments can be found in the Land of Ooo and these are used to restore health. Combining condiments with the foods you find will yield various results such as higher health restores, negative status ailments, and even special abilities. By mixing and matching combinations, players will uncover more of the game's secrets. In addition to food players will find rare treasures and other forms of loot that all have different effects. In the demo I played I uncovered the Vorpal Fist, which gave me a rapid-fire punch attack, and the bumblebee, a temporary pet that went after enemies for me. Only by going off the beaten path to find and experiment with different items will players find all that this game has to offer.
It's pretty algebraic how much this game has going for it. If players have half the fun playing it as the developers clearly have had making it then we're all in for quite the treat. If you're a fan of Adventure Time then you will NOT want to miss WayForward Technologies' Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?!!! when it drops this November 13, 2012 for Nintendo DS and 3DS. And if you're a real Adventure Time faithful you'll definitely want to grab the Collector's Edition, which includes the full game, an Enchiridion steel book case for it, Finn's gold sword stylus, Book of Beasts Bestiary, and a Land of Ooo fold out map.