WayForward knows its way around a 2D platformer. Over the past few years it’s proven to be one of the best in the industry when it comes to the genre, from the adorably retro A Boy and His Blob to the Metroid-inspired Aliens: Infestation. Now, the developer has turned its gaze towards Pendleton Ward’s Adventure Time, and the result is as remarkably algebraic as we could have hoped, with wonderful visuals, stellar animations, and awesome use of the 3DS’s 3D tech. And Lumpy Space Princess–always Lumpy Space Princess. Oh, and it’s called Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d you steal our garbage?!
The demo began in the Tree House, as most episodes of the show do, with Finn waking up from a frightening dream brought on by the cosmic owl. He’s annoyed by the dream, so his buddy Jake offers to let him smash up some junk in their secret basement to let off some steam. Obviously, this means running around and bashing teacups. Obviously.
Combat, at this point, has Finn punching and kicking enemies–he doesn’t have his signature sword yet–with Jake (nestled in his backpack because he’s too tired/lazy to walk) being able to swing his size-changing arm out of the bag for long-ranged attacks. It’s somewhat reminiscent of Castlevania or Zelda II, with a loot system that has the player using the pair’s robot friend, BMO, as an inventory management tool able to mix and match items to create powerful healing abilities. Hamburgers only heal one heart, for instance, but adding ketchup turns the burger into a full-heal.
After beating up all of the fine china (and deciding to bring BMO along with them) the duo makes their way outside and notice that something is amiss–their trashcan is gone. The Ice King shows up and says that he hid it, before awkwardly flying away after being weird and cryptic. It’s strange, sort of random, and completely in the spirit of the show.
And so, the duo set off on adventure, attempting to find out why the Ice King has stolen their garbage. Though the game is a fairly traditional 2D platformer, this view switches to a top-down map when traveling–again, quite similar to Zelda II–with random encounters showing up as markers on the map. We worked our way first towards a locked dungeon that we couldn’t explore until we found a sword (“It’s dangerous to go alone,” Jake quipped), then to the Hot Dog Princess’s town, and then to a village filled with people that look like tiny houses.
Fans of the show will remember this area from “Donny,” an episode that featured a rude grass ogre that needed to be kicked a bunch to realize he was being a jerk. Apparently, the ogre is up to his old ways, and has terrorized the people, beating them up and stealing their mail. Finn and Jake agree to get it back by beating up a bunch of enemies, and eventually finding Donny on top of a mountain, where he, too, was kicked in the buns until he gave us the letter he stole. Which was addressed to Finn.
We only spent a half-hour with Adventure Time, but we left impressed with WayForward’s take on Pen Ward’s creation. It’s chock-full of references to the show, memorable characters, and plenty of fan service: All of the ingredients to an awesome licensed game. Hopefully the rest of the DS/3DS game is as whimsical as what we played, since we’re really looking to getting our hands on it this fall.