Video games based on popular television shows tend to be hit-and-miss in terms of quality and entertainment value. They don’t necessarily have the rushed development cycles of movie tie-in games (which is why those tend to be fairly bad with a few exceptions), but you can sometimes see the lack of emotional investment in a franchise when you’re developing a game where you are bound to very specific things in order to stay true to the universe. Luckily, developer WayForward found a franchise they could work with in Adventure Time, and the results are quite good because of it.
Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage? is an action-adventure game with minor RPG elements that will remind some folks of Zelda II. It’s the story of Our Heroes Finn the Human and Jake the Dog, as they travel around the land of Ooo to hunt down the evil-ish Ice King who has stolen their garbage to make garbage princesses that they must rescue and… yeah it’s a little weird. That’s basically the show, so it’s a rather faithful recreation in that sense.
Jake and Finn will travel around Ooo, venturing to different areas in the overworld while fulfilling various quests given by characters you will meet up with. On your travels, you will sometimes encounter shadowy figures that trigger a short battle sequence with a few enemies. Travelling between some areas will also trigger a 2D sidescroller where you’ll have to battle enemies and navigate platforms to make your way through to the other side. These build up to each main area’s dungeon where you will have to navigate your way to a boss battle. Finn will do most of the battling with sword and melee attacks as Jake is fairly lazy and rides on Finn most of the time though he can help out with a weaker medium range attack. As the game progresses, Jake gets some motivation to shapeshift into other forms and abilities which will give you access to areas you previously couldn’t reach. You can also level up Finn’s health, attack, and speed stats.
The game is actually fun to play, and that’s coming from someone who hadn’t watched the show before (I saw enough from the game that it made me want to check out the show, however). Older gamers may find it a bit repetitive and rather easy. Beyond the relatively simple gameplay, even if you get into trouble, there are liberal item drops and save points (which will also replenish your health) to help you along the way. The items are actually quite clever, as food items can sometimes be combined for enhanced (for example, you’d get a lot more health by putting pancakes on syrup than by just having the syrup and packages on their own) or diminished (salt on a cake or pie may not work out for you so well) effect. You could use attack items if you wanted to, but I found I rarely needed them. Bosses tend to follow a couple of patterns of attack, and once you figure them out they become much easier. Still, the level of difficulty will make the game much more accessible to younger gamers, and this game is probably better suited for them. The one thing I can see particularly young gamers having trouble with is keeping track of the different areas you have to backtrack to on the various fetch quests, though they probably wouldn’t “get” the show and thus wouldn’t be interested in the game anyways. The show, and thus the game, also lends itself to a bit of crude humour that you may not want younger kids exposed to either.
At about 5 hours to complete, the game is a bit on the short side, though it’s easier to forgive for a $30 handheld title. Yes, there are secrets to find and a New Game + mode with higher difficulty unlocked after you beat the game (in an arguably anti-climatic ending) which can extend that time, though only the truly hardcore or fans of the show will likely be up for that. It’s a good 5 hours though. The 3D looks good on the 3DS, though it’s not particularly needed, but it might be the sound that really shines. With special intro and ending themes and terrific music throughout, this game nails overall presentation.
The GamerPops Recommendation
Not all games based on kids TV shows are particularly good, but Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage is. Fans of the show are well served with this title as it’s a quality piece of work, especially for younger gamers. It could have been longer, but it’s priced somewhat in line with that length. It’s got a different sense of humour to be sure, but it wouldn’t be so spice if it didn’t.
A review copy was provided to GamerPops.
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ESRB Rating Summary
Content descriptors: Animated Blood, Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief
Rating summary: This is an action-adventure game based on characters from the TV show Adventure Time. Players assume the roles of Finn and Jake, two friends who complete quests in the fantasy Land of Ooo. Players use punches and sword swipes to defeat “cartoony” enemies and boss creatures (e.g., penguins, turtles, rock monsters, a chainsaw-wielding bear). Enemies generally blink and disappear when defeated; one ice creature (resembling a bull) turns into a red blob of indiscernible organs before vanishing in a puff of smoke. Some of the dialogue contains jokey threats and/or comically suggestive banter (e.g., [M]y foot is hungry for Ice King’s butt,” “[I] was trying to seduce my crafts teacher . . .” and “I took a vacation with babes recently. My babe stats went up by 4!”).