As the strange, lengthy title confides, Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?! begins with Finn and Jake waking up to realize that their garbage was stolen by the scheming Ice King. While they appreciate him taking out their trash, they fear that there's something devious afoot, and set off to find out why he… stole their garbage. With that, WayForward’s (developer of A Boy and his Blob and the Shantae series) Adventure Time game sets off on its journey, and while it might not hold the interest of those uninitiated in the show, it should provide fans with exactly what they want from the series.
Adventure Time fans know what to expect: Finn and his dog Jake have to travel the world doing favors for anthropomorphic buildings, helping princesses, and saving puppies. The game features a fun, light story that feels like a few stitched together episodes, with consistently humorous dialogue that sounds ripped right from the show. You'll constantly be looking forward to talking to every character, just to see what random things they'll say next. It's a shame that there's very limited spoken dialogue, especially considering the show's strong voice cast, but what’s there works.
The limited dialogue more or less fits in with the surprisingly retro vibe exuding from Adventure Time. Anyone who has played an NES Zelda game will no doubt recognize many gameplay elements, and there are regular nods to old-school gaming. Levels themselves will have you platforming and hacking through enemies with Finn’s sword, battling a variety of monsters as you travel between different locations in Ooo.
It’s basic, with only a few combos to worry about, but complexity arrives by way of Jake's shape-changing abilities. Though he begins the game by deciding he’s going to be lazy and hang out in Finn’s backpack, he slowly gains access to a number of abilities, allowing you to float over gaps, bash enemies, and hit far away foes, among other often-zany uses. His powers help keep the game’s many encounters from growing old, but they are underutilized, and you’ll wish that he had more abilities by the end of the game.
Also problematic is the inventory system, which is needlessly complicated and difficult to use. You’ll constantly pick up items from fallen foes, most of which are fun references to the show. Each, too, has its own unique ability, letting you throw Stars of Frozen Rain at enemies, spawn Business Men to fight your foes, or have a bee follow you around and attack bad guys. Food is also thrown into the mix, and you can add condiments to any edible item to enhance it (or make it worse, if the condiment is actually gross). While they’re funny and useful, needing to use the touchscreen to activate the items is a chore, especially since the tiles are too hard to consistently hit without the stylus. You can technically use the shoulder buttons to activate them, but this is just as frustrating.
Fans of Adventure Time, will likely be able to overlook these faults and embrace the many things that make Hey Ice King, Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?! fun. From the entertaining, top-down overworld to the constant interactions with the show’s signature characters, the game was obviously made with a love for the license. The visuals are wonderful, matching the show’s characters well while still feeling like a video game, and the music is absolutely brilliant. It’s a bit on the short end, and you’ll be watching the credits in around four or five hours (before unlocking a New Game +), but it’s entertaining throughout.
WayForward has crafted an Adventure Time game that should be able to please both young and old fans of the show. Children will likely love the fairly easy gameplay and the hilarious story, and adults will appreciate both the witty dialogue and throwbacks to retro gaming. It's a flawed journey, mostly due to the hard-to-use inventory system, but it's definitely an adventure worth taking for anyone interested in an absolutely math journey through Ooo.