Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?!!
3DS | D3Publisher / WayForward | 1 Player | Out Now (North America)
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16th January 2013; By KnucklesSonic8
About all that needs to be gleaned on a basic level can be gathered by looking at the game's lengthy subtitle. Jake and Finn, the much-befriended inhabitants in the Land of Ooo, kick off their day like any other and come to the realization that the harmless-yet-nauseating Ice King has made off with a pile of their junk, arranging it in the form of a princess to lure them into a meaningless charade. And so it was that Jake and Finn, taunted by the Ice King's thievery though not at all threatened by it, set out on an adventure to reclaim stolen goods he was probably entitled to snag in the first place. As it happens, Jake is much more drawn to the idea of a snooze than involving himself in the Ice King's antics, so in the beginning, much of the work will be done by Finn while Jake functions as more of a passive tag-along. Along the way in this 2D, side-scrolling venture, Finn will locate a sword that he can use to vanquish foes -- much more effective than the default attack move of throwing punches, which you'll have to revert back to if you don't have at least half of a heart in life points. His attributes of maximum health, attack power and speed will see to progressive improvement, much at the same rate that Jake will make himself more and more useful by taking on umbrella, shield, and bridge forms to help Finn across hurdles.
To make exploring the different kingdoms a smoother process, what you have is an open hub world viewed from a top-down perspective. Junctions are tied together through stairs and doorways, with brief platforming sections in the middle, while physical locations such as dungeons and villages are identified with easy-to-remember landmarks. The scope isn't drastically large, but there are many sections that cannot be accessed until an ability is learned later on in the game. What is more, not having these abilities might then force you to take a longer way around. But once you've grown accustomed to this navigation style, it becomes less of a hassle as it is then that your methods of travel begin offering more freedom.
Additionally, in a very old-school mannerism, there are random tree-like figures that occasionally make an appearance on the field, leading to isolated battles against a few foes. Really in all these respects, Adventure Time: HIKWYSOG borrows from a style that is reminiscent of classic Zelda titles and others, in multiple ways behaving as a throwback in the way of general setup and organization.
Embedding some adventure-style elements into the game, players will interact with NPCs on a consistent basis, being assigned a welcome amount of quests and making trades with characters for items. Paying close attention to dialogue is encouraged through the use of all-capitals for emphasis, as you'll find there's an expectation that you'll remember where you saw something or someone that must now be retrieved or engaged with after an event takes place. It would be best for me not to spoil the details surrounding these missions as they have humorous lines tied to them that could lose their value if they are anticipated beforehand. Just be aware that this entire process is a strength, not a hindrance.
I danced around it just now, but Adventure Time: HIKWYSOG's outlined path features quite a bit of backtracking. But before you get all up in arms about the decision, the game isn't uptight about it, nor does this presence stifle the pacing. On the contrary, many times when this is called for it is for justified reasons, feeling balanced and never the root of confusion -- provided you're paying attention to the exchanges between characters.
As an example, at some point in one of the game's dungeons, you will come across an area you have no way of getting to with your current move set. Being forced to continue on, at the end of the path is something that will not grant access to that off-limits section, but rather equip you with what is needed to explore an even earlier section. With you still eyeing that currently unreachable point of interest, it's nice to observe that in both this and other instances, your curiousity is provoked on more than one occasion. What all of this does is cement in your mind what needs to be addressed in the foreseeable future, so that when the situation changes, you'll already know exactly where to head. A considerable portion of the game makes these sorts of assumptions of players, but does so with the support in its design to carry it out, and thus avoiding frustration that could arise from details being overlooked or unknown by players.
In terms of other aspects of the game's design, platforming areas (which are encompassed by overworld navigation and dungeon exploration) have all sorts of nefarious creatures, with such level elements as linear wind pockets, and a hierarchy that remains largely singular across the board, with a few exceptions where side-scrolling involves ascension instead of simply frolicking across a set plane of gaps and moving platforms. Items serve as your main collectible, appearing in generous amounts and offering possibilities to temporarily improve your strength, blind enemies to your presence, or to be combined with other food items for greater health regeneration.
Puzzles are integrated discreetly and pop up from time to time, including rooms where a mirror image of you guards an item by copying your every move. These don't ever take over, and they might even be a little too infrequent for some. But from the perspective of this catering to more of an adventure-style format than that of a platformer, that can be seen as an appropriate move. The only issue I observed with the level design is that there was one area where the recommended action is to duck to avoid incoming arrows, but doing so on a thin platform situated just before the source of these attacks will send you into a bottomless pit. Not a big deal, though, since doing so will only send you back to the entrance you emerged from. But I still felt it worth noting, mostly to demonstrate that there's not much to find fault with in the level design save for a few unimportant cases.
Analyzing the facets of its design structure in detail, there's a great inclusiveness at work, and this is because Adventure Time: HIKWYSOG's ideas and executions pass through a filter that leaves behind lumps of precision and any dissuading demands, instead remaining unreservedly accessible and gentle for a variety of audiences. And I say this in the most respectful, non-demeaning way possible that the game is especially well-paced for younger audiences, even skillfully so. As one might hope for, the difficulty does increase and even the always-entertaining boss battles conform to an appreciated balance. But for better or worse, the need for strenuous caution doesn't ever enter into the picture. Older folks will be pleased to know that after completing the game the first time around (which should take around five hours in length), a New Game+ option will become unlocked, offering a tad more in the way of challenge, even though it's purely artificial how this comes about. As it no doubt should, much of the enjoyment really comes from the silly and carefree humor. There were a number of times where I nearly belted out a laugh, and it is regularly those examples of spontaneous cheer and outspoken behaviour that do much good for the overall tone.
In line with this, the soundtrack is quite a rousing highlight, with a bouncy mix of hopeful and eerie tunes, some of which remind me of both proper social functions and lively house parties, making use of synthesizers, guitars, and other devices. Strange though it may be at times due to its use of vocal noises, there's a fair amount to take away as being outstanding, and even with the occasional reference to either the property or a retro-like sound, it all sounds very, very unique.
I also can't forget to mention that while the game's dialogue isn't fully-voiced, a scattering of voice clips here and there work decently enough. Although not as memorable as the music itself, the visuals are also pretty great, with clean sprite work seen through and through, complemented very nicely by the lack of any problems existing in the way of animation consistency. The backgrounds aren't very captivating or present qualities to be fond of, which may stem from the fact that they're not overbearing, nor are they greatly served by the 3D usage. But regardless, everything visual is executed well and assumes a proper and pleasing state.
It is by means of an equal combination of nicely-outlined design and effective delivery in comedic value that Adventure Time: HIKWYSOG engages in a somewhat effortless manner, and does so with an appropriate accommodation that is not at all overdone or alienating to anyone who has yet to be entertained by the show. There's a warranted hesitation to label this as being perfectly tuned to both young and old, as those with more experience will feel pampered and less satisfied with the progression. However, the game's appeal doesn't wilt as a result of this or any other perceived drops in this department. Adventure Time: HIKWYSOG adopts more roles than may initially be credited, functioning with skill as a user-friendly experience for young gamers; an introductory learning tool for anyone new to the elements presented therein; a teasing reflection of the comical flavour of the TV show (though you may need to ask more avid fans to vouch more fervently on this point); a nod back to old-school games; and an example of how to channel humor, consistency, and balanced exploration without having the design hold suffer. With this in mind, all that went into making Adventure Time: HIKWYSOG one modest and attentive creation should not be passed over.
23/30 - Very Good
Gameplay 8/10 - Easy navigation and platforming, balanced backtracking, rare puzzles and common quests that are not a bother, entertaining bosses
Presentation 8/10 - Well-executed visuals and layouts, not captivating or helped much by 3D effects, occasional voice acting, soundtrack is very well done
Enjoyment 4/5 - Great tone with thanks to the humor, nostalgic setup, valid design choices with cases of positive design, better for younger folks
Extra Content 3/5 - Length is on the short side, not much replay value in the way of secrets, New Game+ opens up after going through it once
Equivalent to a score of 77% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System