Adventure Time on Cartoon Network is a smash hit, with toys, plush, and DVDs selling like hotcakes. Now there is an Adventure Time video game for Nintendo’s portable handhelds (3DS version reviewed here). Play as adventurous boy Finn and his magical shape-shifting stretchy talking dog Jake as they go on a quest in the land of Ooo to teach the Ice King a lesson. You see, the Ice King stole Finn and Jake’s garbage so he could make a garbage princess, and they can’t allow that. On their way, Finn and Jake will interact with characters from the show, including Princess Bubblegum, Lemongrab, Marceline, and many more! So is the game any good? Absolutely! You’ll just have to read on to find out why.
When Finn and Jake set out from their treehouse at the start of the game, they tromp around the land of Ooo in an overhead perspective. This part of the game is very similar to the NES classic Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link. There are even shadowy monsters that roam around and if you hit one, you’ll enter a little mini-skirmish. When you do venture into battles, dungeons, caves, and towns, the view switches to a 2-D side scrolling action game.
In this mode, you mostly control Finn. He can jump and use his sword and fists to battle monsters from the show. Jake the dog rides in his backpack and can aid Finn in battle and on the map. Jake can use his stretchy arms to punch long distance enemies, and as you progress Jake will learn other skills that can help you out. For instance, Jake can turn into an umbrella to slow your descent after a fall. Or on the map screen, Jake can grow big to break down rocks in the way, stretch taller to make bridges or climb mountains, or turn into a boat to travel across waters.
Jake and Finn actually have a third companion on their adventure. BMO (pronounced “Beamo”) is their living, walking, talking handheld video game system (and my favorite character from the show). BMO sits on the bottom touch screen and shows you important things on his face. You can view a map of Ooo, check Finn and Jake’s stats and abilities, and manage your items. When you defeat enemies, they’ll sometimes drop items that you can collect. Some are food items that can restore your health when you tap on them on the touch screen. You can even combine food items and condiments to make them more potent, similar to the SNES cult classic EarthBound. Other items give Finn and Jake a temporary stat boost in battle.
The problems in the Adventure Time game are few and far between, and are hardly even worth mentioning. Sometimes it’s hard to tap on items on the touch screen, especially when you are in the middle of a boss battle. Finn’s jumps are a little stiff every now and then, and sometimes goals can be a little unclear, especially if you aren’t as familiar with the cartoon show. But if you are a big fan of the animated series and just enjoy fun breezy 2-D games in general, then you’ll love this one. I should also mention the music and graphics are fantastic.
I apologize for getting on my soapbox for a bit, but many other reviews of the game point out that another problem with the Adventure Time game is that it’s too easy and short. But I don’t see that as a problem at all. You see, the Adventure Time game reminds me of other great cartoon-based games, most notably the Disney NES and SNES classics from Capcom like DuckTales, Rescue Rangers, and Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse. Just ask any gamer my age about the moon stage from DuckTales and watch their eyes glaze over. Anyway, one problem that most gamers skip when reminiscing about those games is that they were also very easy and short. Granted, they had to be short because you could only beat them in one sitting, but they were still fun even after several replays. And plus, while Adventure Time’s fanbase does consist of many older folks, kids still like the cartoon, too. What I’m trying to get at is I think other game reviewers sometimes don’t realize that they’re not the only ones who play games. Younger gamers and less experienced players can enjoy games, too. And with Adventure Time, younger fans can still enjoy the game without being frustrated, while older gamers will enjoy all the classic game references. And Adventure Time fans young and old will enjoy all the characters and humor from the show, so it’s a win-win situation. Plus, when you beat the game, you do unlock a harder mode.
Adventure Time is rated E-10 with ESRB descriptors of Animated Blood, Cartoon Violence, and Comic Mischief. I didn’t see copious amounts of blood, but some enemies humorously drop guts when you defeat them. But most bad guys just disappear in a puff of smoke when beaten. The humor from the show is very much intact, so there are some fart noises and other bits of toilet humor here and there. But if you’re OK with your kids watching the cartoon, they’ll be OK with the game, too. Reading skill is a must for all the text, and very young players might get frustrated at some of the later bosses, but most shouldn’t have any trouble at all. I’m not a super big fan of Adventure Time, but the game is fantastic. Of course, it was developed by WayForward, so that’s probably why it’s so good. Maybe someday, they can make a game based on MY favorite Cartoon Network program: Regular Show.