I’ve been playing some Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?! on the 3DS and I’m ready to get a few words down on its behalf. It is a simply wonderful, fun and nostalgic title that is so well-made I was a bit surprised. I knew I would like it, but didn’t know if I would think it’s a good game or not. After a few hours, I can confidently reconcile these two and smack the stamp of “Good Game” right on the cover.
Most importantly, it is a loving, honest, dutiful Adventure Time experience. The writing and animations are perfect analogues to the show’s style. The sprites are beautiful yet not flashy enough to hamper gameplay. When you jump or swing a sword, you’re not fighting the animation for response. The compromise between faithfulness and gameplay has been mediated by a deft hand.
Aside from the kinda-sorta iconic animations of the show, the humor is the biggest facet kept totally intact in (deep breath) Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?! The game is funny. Not funny for a game, it’s really funny. The writing is sharp and frequently takes turns for the absurd when least expected. Some carry-over from the show’s worn-in vernacular only deepens the fan service. Still, anyone would enjoy this game, even if you’re not into the show.
All this doggerel and not a syllable about the game!
Okay, there is a game here. From a strictly gameplay stance, think of The Adventure of Link or the original (terribly hard and terribly terrible) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game on NES. You have an open world which you explore from a skyward vantage point. From there, you move from locale to locale, dungeon to dungeon, town to town. You will level up, get items and gain abilities. Everything checks out and I have no complaints. It is a … proficient? … game at the very least.
Honestly, the gameplay isn’t great. But I mean that literally, not as hyperbole; it’s certainly good, just not truly great. The abilities you get only serve specific purposes, mostly to grant passage to further reaches of the map. This is one area where (sigh) Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?! seems to miss its inspired mark. In the classic Legend of Zelda games, these items serve both combat and explorative purposes. Here they are one-offed too quickly.
An area where the game does a bit better is items. They are deeply (and humorously) integrated. The buffing items are all silly enough with some really excellent flavor text. And the food items that heal you are implemented in such a way that you need to match condiment with dish to yield the optimal combo. Some will even give you a combat ability, like the habanero that makes you spit fire for a while.
Another plus to tack on are the boss fights. While boss fights can feel tired, hackneyed and out of place, they are perfectly organic here considering the game’s old roots. Each boss proves to be a perfect little challenge. Perhaps you will die once or twice, just so that the game lets you know it’s still there. This isn’t Demon’s Souls or anything, just a peak or dip in the game’s pacing. Oh, and one of the bosses is a giant bear with a chainsaw on its back. Pretty cool, eh?
Lastly, Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?! is a rather short title (see what I did there?). I’m about 70% done according to the game’s measure and have only put a few hours into it. But don’t let that sway you. While it is quite a good game, it is an excellent addition to the Adventure Time library. The amount of care and craft ladled into the tiny cartridge is worth the meager price. For fans, this is a must. For gamers, this is a should.