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Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d you steal our garbage?!! Review

3
  • 3DS

Hey Ice King! is a game with its heart in the right place, but it's a bit too simple, and too fleeting to leave a lasting impression.

There is perhaps no property on television more deserving of a good video game adaptation than Pendleton Ward's Adventure Time. After all, the tweens, adult nerds, and stoners of all ages who enjoy Adventure Time are constantly peppered with references to video games of yesteryear, an era Ward clearly has a great deal of affection for. So when presented with Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?!, you'd be right to be excited. An Adventure Time video game co-written by Ward himself, developed by noted retro game enthusiasts WayForward, and featuring a design modeled after a classic Zelda game? It practically sounds like a dream project for fans, which is why the end result of Hey, Ice King! is perhaps more of a disappointment than it would be were it simply another unremarkable licensed game destined for the bargain bin.

Ice King's desperate weirdness doesn't quite play as comically in text as it does when voiced by Tom Kenny.

Please do not mistake my meaning. In nearly every facet of its design, Hey, Ice King! is a completely competent action adventure game that seemingly has its designs most squarely focused on younger players. It's a lightweight adventure that sees the series' two main protagonists--confirmed human Finn, and the unnervingly elastic dog Jake--setting out on a quest to find out why vile series antagonist Ice King has stolen their garbage. "It's just garbage!" you might be shouting, if you're not a regular watcher of the show. But fans know that Ice King's obsession with princesses and the kidnapping of them is usually at the root of anything he does, which means that Jake and Finn must spring into action...even if it just means they're rescuing a princess constructed out of their own refuse.

Over the course of the adventure, you'll travel to a few different places on the map of Ooo, including the Candy Kingdom, Jake and Finn's bad ass tree house, and of course the icy mountains in which Ice King dwells. You'll also run into dozens upon dozens of familiar characters, ranging from the obvious to the obscure. No, not everyone's there, but considering this show introduces about six new characters per episode, that might be a bit much to expect.

The script for Hey Ice King! was co-written by Pendleton Ward, so it's no surprise that the show's distinct flavor of stream-of-consciousness weirdness is prevalent throughout. And yet, I often found myself missing...something. I found myself more often just mildly chuckling at the jokes in the game, versus the more laugh-out-loud quality of the show. I think it might have something to do with the lack of voice work. Adventure Time is a show that features tremendous voice actors like Tom Kenny and John DiMaggio saying tremendously silly things, and while you get snippets of their voices during specific conversation sections, most of the dialogue is just written. So much of what makes Adventure Time funny is the hyperactive goofiness of the characters and their interactions. You lose some of that in just reading the jokes.

Which isn't to say I'd expect a 3DS game to feature a full suite of spoken dialogue, mostly due to the obvious hardware limitations. But in lieu of an adventure that captures the full essence of the show, I'd at least hope the gameplay would pick up the slack. It doesn't.

It's not that Hey Ice King! plays particularly poorly. In fact, it's a relatively polished little game, fully functional in its design and cleverly laid out across wonderfully diverse looking worlds. The problem is what you end up doing over the course of the adventure, which ultimately amounts to very little. Again, this is a game that was designed with younger players in mind. Unfortunately, that translates to combat that borders on mindless, and quests that tend to involve a good bit of fetching.

I can handle a few fetch quests, but Hey Ice King!'s overworld design does it no favors. Taking more than a few cues from Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, you'll be traveling around Ooo on a larger map full of dungeons, towns, and other landmarks. Often times you'll have to descend into a dungeon to get to other areas, meaning you'll be entering the same areas again and again. That would be fine, except that you have to fight the same enemies every single time you do this. Which, again, could be fine, except that the combat is so simplistic that it just becomes a bothersome chore to have to avoid/kill all these same bad guys again.

There's a decent little adventure in Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?!, but it feels like it should be better than that.

It's worth noting that things do pick up toward the second half of the game, as you discover new items and earn new abilities for Jake, whose elastic nature becomes progressively of more use. The trouble is, the game more or less ends right around the time you finally start feeling good about things. By the time the combat becomes more interesting and the dungeons finally become suitably challenging, you're pretty much at the last boss fight. This is a game you could pretty easily complete in about four or five hours, if you're not being super meticulous in your hunt for secrets and other obscure items.

All of this said, I can hardly bring myself to outright dismiss Hey Ice King!, especially for the more die-hard fans of the show. Whatever lackluster components it has almost lose out to the smiles one tends to get when seeing the sheer amount of visual detail poured into this game. Ooo is lovingly rendered here, and the character art and animation is really sharp. Unfortunately, visuals aren't everything, and the actual act of playing Hey Ice King! is something that cannot be ignored. Tempering your expectations, you may find Hey Ice King! to be an entertaining little diversion, especially if you're a younger player or just looking for an excuse to spend some time with your favorite characters from the show. Regrettably, those hoping for something a bit more involving from a gameplay perspective just aren't going to find it here.

Alex Navarro on Google+
61 Comments
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Posted by deano546

GTOTY

(Game title of the year.)

Posted by Atwa

BACON PANCAKES!!!!!!

Posted by verysexypotato

@Atwa said:

BACON PANCAKES!!!!!!
Posted by MarkWahlberg

People really fucking like this show. Like, even for something deliberately catering to that crowd. Madness.

Posted by The_Nubster

I'm surprised to see a review of this up on the site. Either way, I'll be picking this up. If the gameplay is serviceable and the goofiness comes through reasonably well, that's all I need.

Edited by iAmJohn

UNPOPULAR OPINIONS TIME:

Bravest Warriors is better than Adventure Time. And Regular Show is better than both of them. Fight me, motherfuckers.

Posted by Kordesh

This game nailed the charm of the show, but yeah, it was really short, and super basic. The soundtrack was strangely enjoyable however.

Posted by MrMiyagi

I finished this in 4 hours. A lot of fun for sure, but jeeze was it ever simple.

Posted by Manhattan_Project

@iAmJohn said:

UNPOPULAR OPINIONS TIME:

Bravest Warriors is better than Adventure Time. And Regular Show is better than both of them. Fight me, motherfuckers.

Ha. This guy.

Posted by Toug

@verysexypotato: @Atwa:

I see you and raise you:

Posted by Vinny_Says

How much weed was smoked while playing this is the real question.

Posted by BlueWolverine

@iAmJohn said:

UNPOPULAR OPINIONS TIME:

Bravest Warriors is better than Adventure Time. And Regular Show is better than both of them. Fight me, motherfuckers.

Why don't you just admit that you like all of these shows and stop trying to get attention.

Posted by ShadowConqueror

THE MISADVENTURES OF FLAPJACK.

Posted by MikeGosot
@iAmJohn said:

UNPOPULAR OPINIONS TIME:

Bravest Warriors is better than Adventure Time. And Regular Show is better than both of them. Fight me, motherfuckers.

I only saw one episode of Bravest Warriors, and i really liked it. Regular Show is really the best, tho. So, yeah, no fighting tonight.
Posted by SaturdayNightSpecials

When I saw this review in the RSS, I said to myself "Alex, 3 stars".

Damn I'm good.

Posted by Camosid

This is the most accurate review. I guess I felt like it nailed the show better, but yes the issue was Wayfoward games are short. They needed to make the game friendly to kids so they made a very low difficulty ramp. So when it finally got interesting it was over, but at least it nailed everything else.

Posted by iAmJohn

@BlueWolverine said:

@iAmJohn said:

UNPOPULAR OPINIONS TIME:

Bravest Warriors is better than Adventure Time. And Regular Show is better than both of them. Fight me, motherfuckers.

Why don't you just admit that you like all of these shows and stop trying to get attention.

Where's the fun in that?

Posted by dancinginfernal

Jesus, Alex. On a roll much?

Posted by MagusMaleficus

@iAmJohn: I mostly agree with you, so, um... Should we fuck or something?

Posted by amlabella

Well said Alex, I agree completely after playing through most of it yesterday. Competent game with some clever writing, but it's far too simple and the lack of voice acting is disappointing. I'd love to see some kind of downloadable Adventure Time game for XBLA/PSN with a bigger budget and not such a strong focus on the "young player." Adventure Time is a show with a surprisingly wide age range for its audience, so it'd be nice to see a game that reflects that - deeper gameplay systems, more variety, etc.

Posted by Mexican_Brownie

Alex likes Adventure Time?! :D

I always knew Alex was the secret best member of the crew!

Glad to hear the game is not shit. It will surely make a lot of kids happy this Christmas...until you know...they beat it in like 5 hours.

Posted by ShaggE

Well worth the price of admission for the title song alone.

"Wait, this isn't even the original theme song, what the he----oh shit! *starts bobbing head*"

Posted by Bigbombomb

@Toug: Oh yeah? Check this out!

Great review, Alex. I see that it also came out on the ol' DS, so I might check it out.

Posted by Iceland

I want to check out adventure time, unfortunately I gave up smoking weed when I became a father

Posted by Sergio

@ShaggE said:

Well worth the price of admission for the title song alone.

"Wait, this isn't even the original theme song, what the he----oh shit! *starts bobbing head*"

Please tell me it's this.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@Mexican_Brownie said:

Alex likes Adventure Time?! :D

Posted by Shaanyboi

just got it in the mail. If nothing else, the packaging is totally rad.

Posted by Sackmanjones

What is this thing? What is this show? Someone show me the light.

Posted by WarlordPayne

WayForward is kind of bad at making games, aren't they?

Posted by ShaggE

@Sergio said:

@ShaggE said:

Well worth the price of admission for the title song alone.

"Wait, this isn't even the original theme song, what the he----oh shit! *starts bobbing head*"

Please tell me it's this.

Yep!

Posted by Generiko

When is the Problem Solverz game coming out?

Posted by thebipsnbeeps

It's an intriguing property for a video game. I hope this won't be it for Adventure Time. I feel like they're can be a totally competent one that doesn't have to appeal to a younger crowd or whatever, especially since we're talking about Wayforward here. Just make it like Shantae!

Posted by EnduranceFun

Seriously, didn't guy make review avatars months ago that could replace the blank space for Patrick and the one random one for Alex? Maybe it's too late now that the re-design is 'just around the corner' but it seems like such a waste. Alex reviews more than anyone else these days.

Posted by Little_Socrates
Posted by Vampir

@Little_Socrates said:

What happened to WayForward?

I mean, A Boy And His Blob was kind of a masterpiece of reboots, and we've all been so excited since.

This year, they released Double Dragon Neon, Silent Hill: Book of Memories, and now Adventure Time. What happened over there that brought them so much lower than they were?

I wouldn't be worried; they've been releasing potboilers like those for a while. Pays the bills while they work on more interesting projects, I would guess.

Posted by KJAZZ

Don't know if "hardware limitations" can justify the game not being fully voiced, Virtue's Last Reward was almost fully voiced and that was a straight up 25+ hour visual novel. Granted there's more under the hood of this game taking up precious space, but it is my belief that they didn't place as many voices in because they didn't want to spend the extra bucks on the VA.

Posted by Deusx

Great review Alex seriously spot on. I am very VERY excited for this game so hearing the good and the bad is only reassuring that even with those flaws I will be enjoying the experience just as you did. Keep up the good work man!

Posted by Dark_Lord_Spam

@iAmJohn said:

UNPOPULAR OPINIONS TIME:

Bravest Warriors is better than Adventure Time. And Regular Show is better than both of them. Fight me, motherfuckers.

I disagree.

Posted by Levio

Hopefully it gets a good sequel.

Posted by BjornTheUnicorn

@KJAZZ: It's not so much the 3DS's limitations as it is that the game is also out for the Original DS

Posted by BlatantNinja23

Alex is on a review writing role.

Posted by HellBound

I never understood the draw of this show. I guess if I was growing up now I would understand.

Posted by Sergio

@HellBound said:

I never understood the draw of this show. I guess if I was growing up now I would understand.

Considering I didn't grow up now and other fans of the show didn't either, that's not the reason why you don't understand. You just don't, but that's okay.

Posted by Dan_CiTi

Yeah sounds about right, pretty cool and well made, but kind of shallow in some pretty disappointing ways. Hopefully their can be a Wii U game that's more fully featured and is like A Link to the Past. 

Posted by verysexypotato

@Toug @Bigbombomb

What have we done...

Posted by mnzy

Wasn't this four stars yesterday?

Posted by PhantomGardener

@iAmJohn said:

UNPOPULAR OPINIONS TIME:

Bravest Warriors is better than Adventure Time. And Regular Show is better than both of them. Fight me, motherfuckers.

Haven't seen Bravest Warriors, so can't say anything about that. But Regular Show got nothing, NOTHING on Adventure Time.

Posted by Toug

@verysexypotato: I guess that's the most appropriate version we could hope for. At least until someone mashes it up with "Power".

Posted by CrossTheAtlantic

@Toug said:

@verysexypotato: @Atwa:

I see you and raise you:

I just want you to know I love you for bringing this into my life.

Posted by zeekthegeek

Is Abracadaniel in it? Because that dude is my fucking favorite.

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