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Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?!! (3DS) artwork

Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?!! (3DS) review

"Jake and Finn's quest to retrieve their trash from the Ice King borrows a number of cool ideas from Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, but the adventure doesn't last long enough to do anything substantial."

A long time has passed since that historic April when I used the year’s entire allotment of birthday money to purchase Zelda II: The Adventure of Link for the NES, but I can still remember how betrayed I felt when I discovered that the direct sequel to The Legend of Zelda played very little like its spectacular predecessor. Time heals all wounds, though, as the saying goes. In more recent years, I’ve grown to appreciate the title I once resented, to the point where I began to wish that someone--just about anyone, really--would hurry up and create another game in that vein.

Arguably, Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d you steal our garbage?!! is what I get as a reward for making that wish. Developed by WayForward Technologies and distributed to stores by D3 Publisher, the new adventure title takes many of the core elements that made The Adventure of Link such a unique entity, sands down the rough edges, and strips away the infamous padding and difficulty. The result of those efforts could have been one of the best adventure titles to come along in years… but it fell short.

As the game begins, Finn and Jake are waking up from a strange dream about a psychedelic owl. They don’t have long to ponder the oddity of that vision, before they soon discover that the Ice King has stolen their garbage for reasons that aren’t immediately apparent. If they want to get to the bottom of the mystery, the heroic duo will need to travel throughout the land, meeting odd characters and venturing into strange dungeons before eventually cornering the villain and forcing a day of reckoning.

I have never seen an episode of “Adventure Time,” the Cartoon Network series upon which the game is based. I can’t tell you if the plotlines are taken directly from any episodes, and I also wouldn’t have been susceptible to any in-jokes I might have witnessed. That lack of exposure didn’t prevent me from enjoying the game’s offbeat sense of humor, though. A lot of the dialog was amusing, despite lacking any real maturity. That’s mostly due to the bizarre cast of characters, such as a group of villagers who all look like miniature houses with legs and arms.

Once you start playing, you’ll be able to speed through a brief tutorial that acquaints you with a few basic moves and then you can depart your home and venture onto a world map. The perspective then changes so that you’re looking down on the landscape as Finn and Jake explore. Periodically, one or two enemy icons will appear and meander slowly about the area, but they’re easy to avoid unless one happens to pop into existence the very moment you choose to pass the spot where it materializes. A brush against such a creature will transport you to a small action area, which again assumes a side-scrolling perspective. You must kill a few enemies and then a treasure chest will appear that you can open to find loot.

If you’ve played Zelda II, the above setup should sound familiar. However, there are some key modifications to the old formula. The most obvious change is that you no longer gain experience points for defeating foes. The treasure chest is your only compensation, and it doesn’t take long before your inventory is full and you have to start dropping or consuming goodies to make room for new stuff. Even early on, you’ll likely find yourself avoiding fights because they’re not worth your time, which is unfortunate because it means the developers have basically provided you with incentive to avoid playing much of what could have been a meaningful part of the game.

The world map is at least developed in a manner that encourages exploration, even if it is rather small. There are a number of paths you can follow to find special caves and towns. However, a lot of that exploration is mandatory. If you visit one spot before you’re supposed to, all that you’ve done is waste some time with nothing to show for it. You’ll do better to follow the fairly linear path that the developers must have had in mind. Doing so means that each time you reach a new region, you should start by looking for the very nearest building, where you’ll find someone who will direct you to meet up with some other characters who reside in nearby dwellings. After some back and forth, you’ll gain a skill that allows you to enter a dungeon, where you will then need to find and defeat a boss so that you can progress to yet another region.

Passing from one region to the next requires you to clear a brief action stage, but such segments are one of the game’s most disappointing elements. You’ll usually just need to run along a few ledges, stopping to slash or punch enemies before making a few more quick jumps and arriving at your intended destination. As for the dungeons, they’re only slightly more complex than outdoor areas. You just head through a few openings until you find a key in a chest. Then you backtrack to a locked door and you repeat that process two or three times to reach a boss. There are some wrinkles along the way, such as when gusts of wind blow you backward or indestructible block walls prevent progress, but the solution to any puzzle is always close at hand. There’s very little chance that you’ll feel like there’s any real danger of bad things happening to Finn and Jake.

At least the heroes can learn some cool moves, even if they’ll only need to use most of them in a few limited circumstances. Finn mostly just punches foes or swipes at them with a sword (once he finds it), but Jake can roll up into a ball that carries him over stretches of water, and he’s downright invaluable on the world map when you need to cross wide gaps. There’s never much mystery about what you need to do to proceed, though, which takes some of the fun out of the proceedings. Townsfolk give you specific instructions about what you need to do, and you’ll often gain any relevant abilities before you ever have much reason to use them. In short, Adventure Time is an adventure game for dummies.

Besides lacking much challenge, the game also isn’t very long. I sat down late in the evening with plans to sample the action for a short while before heading to bed, and I didn’t put my 3DS system down until I had beaten it a mere three or four hours later. I didn’t even need to stop to recharge my system. I might have expected relatively little resistance from a pure platformer title, but in this case I was definitely caught off-guard and a little bit disappointed by how quickly everything concluded. That brevity prevented Jake and Finn from wearing out their welcome and I mostly had fun, but I can’t help but think that things would have fallen apart if the adventure lasted as long as it probably should have.

There’s nothing on the packaging that promises an adventure on par with Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, but it’s obvious that title was the primary inspiration for Adventure Time. If you love the cartoon or you’re just in the mood for a simple handheld title, you could do much worse than to pick up this game. Just don’t do so because you expect a quest for the ages. You won’t get one.


honestgamer's avatar
Staff review by Jason Venter (February 04, 2013)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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