As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of the show Adventure Time. Besides being a hilarious series with some good worldbuilding and adventuring thrown into the mix, it’s also very well animated, earning a fan base almost as widespread as the latest generation of My Little Pony did.
Ever looking for more ways to get immersed in the show (and having failed to make the Cartoon Network panel at WonderCon, grrr), I decided to try one of the video game spin-offs. I settled on a recent release, which is said to be simple to play: Adventure Time: Finn and Jake’s Epic Quest.
In both its story and its gameplay, the concept is simple. Play as Finn or Jake (with the ability to switch characters) and travel through Ooo, fighting monsters and collecting video game artifacts. If you can collect enough artifacts, you’ll be able to rescue your friend BMO from a mysterious foe.
On the one hand, the gameplay is the key selling point. It’s a side-scrolling 3-D animated beat ’em up game, where you spend each level punching or hacking enemies to death, collecting coins and other artifacts, and leveling up with experience points and weapon upgrades. It’s designed to be lighthearted and easygoing, accessible to all ages.
On the other hand, that same style of gameplay can become a bit monotonous. You don’t progress straight from Level 1 to Level 2. It’s more like you start at Level 1.1, then reach the portal at the end to jump to Level 1.2, and after five more of those sub-levels, then you’ll reach Level 2.
I will say that this gameplay also irked me because each map has no borders. And I don’t mean no borders like an open sandbox game. I mean, if you’re fighting an enemy and you get too close to the edge of a map, you’ll more than likely end up being knocked off the map and down to the previous level, where you’ll have to find another portal to get back to where you were.
It certainly doesn’t help that the controls (both on the keyboard and the controller) lag a bit, so you’ll be mashing those buttons in an effort to get Finn to spin around, only for him to lose his balance, plummet back to Level 1.2, and then have to walk your way back to the monster you were just battling. Needless to say, this can be excruciating, especially when your enemies can dodge your attacks faster than you can sometimes dodge theirs.
But that’s not to say I hated playing this game. It helps that I’m a fan of the show, since every NPC is a reference to some episode, both major and minor. You go to Finn’s idol Billy to level up and get weapon upgrades, you collect spell pages to store in the Enchiridion, and the game maps are indicative of some familiar location in the land of Ooo. It’s enjoyable to explore the world through the eyes of Finn and Jake, but I imagine it’s less of a treat for more dedicated gamers who don’t watch the show.
At the end of the day, Finn and Jake’s Epic Quest is a delight for Adventure Time fans, a colorful ride, and a decent beat ’em up game. It’s not perfect, but it’s a handy way to kill off an hour or two.
Adventure Time: Finn and Jake’s Epic Quest is available for purchase and download on Steam.
Bibliography: Adventure Time: Finn and Jake’s Epic Quest. Developed by NGD Studios. Published by Cartoon Network Games. Original release date: April 11, 2014.