'Adventure Time' for 3DS is a modern adventure in a classic skin

"Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?" is a fun, fresh take on the classic fetch quest, building the beloved cartoon's whimy onto a classic role-playing game framework.

Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage? takes the popular cartoon and fits it snugly into the classic fetch quest framework, taking a page out of Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link with its top-down open world map and side-scrolling levels and boss battles.

Adventure Time is an action role-playing game, a great pairing with the boisterous, innocently juvenile humor of the television show. Finn and Jake must take down their arch-enemy the Ice King, who is stealing all the garbage in their homeland of Ooo to build a princess from trash.

So why a role-playing game? Finn and Jake are known for talking with their fists; why not a beat em up, or even a shooter?

"The show revolves around adventures and quests, and princesses," Hey Ice King! producer Tim Ramage told Polygon. "An action-adventure game made perfect sense. There is a classic gaming vibe to the show and both Pen Ward and the developer WayForward have a deep appreciation for the games they grew up playing. So, as the collaboration progressed, there was a kindred creativity that naturally led to the direction of the game."

Players take control of protagonists Finn and Jake on a series of fetch quests that push along the major plot. Quests can be done out of order, but completion of major ones will progress the storyline. Controlling Jake and Finn is reminiscent of Banjo-Kazooie, with Jake attacking from his perch Finn's backpack. Finn can punch, kick, jump, slide kick, and duck - a fairly basic set of moves but true to the young hero's portayal and skill set in the television show. Tiny sentient video game console BMO serves as a hub for the game's maps, inventory, and Finn and Jake's stats, taking up the handheld's bottom touch-screen.

"We had a lot of involvement from Pen on this game," Ramage said. "If you're a fan of the show, this will be more of an immersive experience. Fans of the show will recognize most of these characters and places; there are only a few new ones that aren't from the cartoon."

The decision to publish to Nintendo's handheld was larger influenced by its widespread and varied audience, with Hey Ice King! seeking that same child to early-adult audience as Adventure Time.

"Adventure Time is great because the show has a fan base that reaches across age demographics, specifically kids ages 6-12 are huge fans, and so are young adults (and not so young adults like myself) who are also gamers," Ramage said. "The Nintendo handhelds have the same type of reach. They also provide a graphical platform that is very much in sync with the visual sensibilities of the show. All that to say, we thought the 3DS and DS were natural fits for the first video game in this franchise."

Part of what makes Adventure Time unique is its dialogue. The majority of the game's script was penned by series creator Pendleton Ward, who also supervised crafting of its narrative and its art design with developer WayForward.

Perhaps the most creative twist on the game's classic elements is the way it treats its loot system. Loot is obtained by defeating enemies and bosses or by finding secret treasure chests. Food items, like pancakes and hot dogs, help Finn regain his health.

Players can also pick up condiment items like ketchup and syrup for these foods, and combining these items increases the amount of health they restore. For example, eating pancakes may refill one heart, but combining pancakes and syrup in the inventory menu and feeding them to Finn will grant two hearts. Unfortunately you can't get creative with these combinations, so stick with "normal ones"; uncommon combinations like ketchup and apples will only restore one heart.

Fans will be happy to know there is a new game plus option, where players can keep their stats and try their mettle against stronger enemies.

And those "scream queen" rocks that Ward wanted to include? They're in the game too.

"The great thing about working with Pen is that he comes to the table with so many great ideas," Ramage said when I asked about the rocks. "A number of those ideas either made it into the current game, or strongly influenced the design decisions.

"Overall, we want the game to be rewarding," Ramage added. "It's all about getting cool things, fighting enemies, and building your character up. That's what Adventure Time is really about. Our desire is that Hey Ice King! is the first of many opportunities to bring Pen's world and game ideas to life."


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