Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?! is developer WayForward’s latest effort in their increasingly successful attempt to take over the world, one awesome licensed game at a time. Based on the wildly-successful, demographic-transcending Cartoon Network show, Adventure Time is a short, simple trek through an endearingly strange world that strikingly pays tribute to… Zelda II, of all things.
Jake Kaufman is back, once again, to deliver the tunes, and he’s as on point as he’s ever been. The soundtrack captures the essence of Adventure Time with ease. This one may have been a little easy, considering the fact that the show is already thematically influenced by video games, but Kaufman’s skill and diversity is as apparent as always. The game also opens up with a rad new expansion to the Adventure Time theme, enthusiastically setting the stage and letting gamers know that this isn’t just a cynical cash-in.
The invocation of Zelda II is uncanny. Once you go through the motions of the game’s introduction and gain control of Finn (Jake comes along for the ride in his backpack, too lazy to walk… Banjo-Kazooie, anyone?), you’re spat out onto quite a familiar style of overworld, complete with evil shadows that inexplicably transport you to pocket dimensions inhabited by somewhat dangerous beasties. Finn’s combative techniques are nothing to write home about, especially once you pick up a sword, but what sets Adventure Time apart from other swashbuckling platformers are the metamorphic shenanigans of Jake, the coolest John DiMaggio-voiced mascot since Bender. Not only can he use his noodly limbs to aid Finn in basic combat, but he also gains various abilities throughout the game that not only add more options to combat, but also amusingly effect the environment in ways that open up new paths to explore.
Adventure Time progresses fairly predictably; each new power opens the way to the next dungeon, the climate changes with each new area, and most of your interactions with other characters are in the form of hilarious fetch quests (rescuing a newborn baby from wrongful incarceration was a personal favorite). However, the inherent silliness of the license combined with WayForward’s personal brand of comedy helps keep things fresh and fun, although that dreaded sense of stale repetition sometimes begins to rear its ugly head in between bouts of progress. A general lack of challenge, even during boss fights, doesn’t help much (though not without their fair share of goofy fun and rad music), and the game is also quite short, taking only a handful of hours to not only finish the game but uncover most of the secrets. A New Game+ feature attempts to add replay value, but it doesn’t really offer much beyond tougher enemies.
Neither demanding of the player nor ambitious enough to try to break new ground, Adventure Time: Hey Ice King, Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?! not only has a great title, but also serves the purpose of a fun little distraction for fans of the show. It manages to be a charming look back at an esoteric classic, that most folks have probably forgotten just how fun it could be.
Pros: An Adventure Time experience through and through, more Jake Kaufman
Cons: A breeze to complete, very short