I know that this might be sacrilege but I don’t watch Adventure Time. I have nothing against the show, it’s just that I only have Netflix for my viewing needs Adventure Time isn’t on Netflix. I could probably find it somewhere online but I’ve never really cared to before. Now that I’ve played this game that might change. But probably not because I’m pretty lazy when it comes to TV.
That said, I love this game. There, you can stop reading now if you want, the rest is just going to be about how much I love this game, but there is at least one downside so if you want to know what it is, stay with me. It is a free game though so if you have a Gear VR go download Adventure Time while you read the rest.
There are a lot of people out there who don’t think that a 3rd person game is worth playing in VR. They seem to think that it somehow takes you out of the world. I disagree wholeheartedly with that, but it’s not important here anyway. This is not a 3rd prson game.
There are a lot of people out there who don’t think that a 3rd person game is worth playing in VR.
WWWWHHHHHHHAAAAAATTTTT?!?! You ask?
Well, that’s not entirely true, but it kind of is. You don’t play as Finn or Jake. You play as, well I’m pretty sure you play as yourself, but they call you Tiny because the characters obviously can’t get to know your name. In the opening cinematic you sort of sneak up on Jake and Finn as they are having a picnic and watch them from the grass. At this time you are about as big as they are. They sense you and pounce on you, but decide you are adorable with your fleshy appearance and googly eyes (referring of course, to your Gear VR that you are wearing) name you Tiny, and invite you to the picnic. That’s when Magic Man shows up and turns you into an inflated balloon.
This was genius because it shows how silly it is to think that you aren’t in the game just because you can see the character you are controlling. You are still in the world. You can look around 360 degrees and see everything that you would see if it were a first person game. The only difference is that you also see the character, and for some games, including this one, that’s pretty important.
This was genius because it shows how silly it is to think that you aren’t in the game just because you can see the character you are controlling.
It also gave them an excuse to use what is, IMHO, the best looking and feeling VR trick that I’ve seen. It’s been called toyification, but it’s really scaling up the game’s camera so that you seem like a giant, or rather, that you are your normal size and the world has become toy sized, hence the name. The reason this looks the best is that everything seems more real, like it’s actually right there in front of you. I don’t know the intricacies of how or why it all works, but I suppose it could be that it’s harder to see the imperfections in the game at this size or perhaps it’s that it puts more of the game in the “sweet-spot” of VR where the 3D effect is the strongest.
The premise of the game is Magic Man is a jerk and Finn and Jake are helping you chase him down to reverse his magic on you and turn you back to normal. It is pretty typical 3rd person platforming from here out, but it’s done so well and it’s in VR that, to quote the adorable *grape juice girl, I just can’t stop loving it, I just love it, the way it looks, the way it plays, the way it speaks to me. Okay, she doesn’t say all of that, but I think you get it.
But it does speak to you. Jake does his noodle body trick quite often throughout the game and breaks the fourth wall (does that even exist in VR?) just to be funny. It’s not laugh-out-loud funny, but it’s humourous and fully enjoyable. The two of them also have funny phrases that they drop randomly throughout the game or else contextual banter that adds a lot of fun to the levels.
The first of (sadly) only two levels is in a forest. I know from watching the developers give a talk at the Oculus connect conference that it’s not an environment from the show, but it’s supposed to feel like it could be. I can’t speak to that because, as I said before, I don’t watch the show. But what I can say is the environments look fantastic. I was tempted to add “for mobile” but I don’t want to. They look fantastic, period. Full stop. End of discussion.
I can say is the environments look fantastic. I was tempted to add “for mobile” but I don’t want to. They look fantastic, period.
The forest is your pretty typical forest with bright green grass, trees, water and insects fluttering around the scene. At least there are insects on the S6, I know some things had to be removed for the Note 4, not sure if the bugs were one of those things. There is an effect on the insects that really shows that there was love put into this game. If an insect hits you in the face, it actually bounces off of you, as if you are really there. It’s a great effect and one that I found myself trying to replicate on every insect. Sadly the lack of positional tracking on the Gear VR makes it difficult, and if you are prone to VR sickness it might not be a good idea to try to hit the insects with your face. Just let it happen naturally.
The forest level is very easy with the only enemies being sandwiches that Jake buried and Magic Man brought to life. A few elbow drops from Jake or sword swipes from Finn and they are (ahem) toast. Except the ones that were already toast. They are still toast, but a different kind of…well, you know what I’m saying.
In both levels there are 9 Magic Man Jack-in-the-boxes that you are supposed to destroy, though you don’t have to find them all to progress so I guess they are just there for the completionist and to entice you to explore.
The controls in Adventure Time are pretty nearly flawless. I’ve played through several times and have never been frustrated by them. Finn does the running, jumping and sword fighting, while Jake rides in his backpack. But Jake isn’t a useless tag-along. As I mentioned above Jake can pull out a massive elbow and drop it on the bad guys, but he can also slap them with a giant hand or turn himself into a sort of parachute and let Finn glide through the air. Without Jake it would be a plain vanilla platformer that might get boring quickly. Thankfully Jake is there to keep things interesting.
The controls in Adventure Time are pretty nearly flawless.
At the end of the forest you catch up with Magic Man and he opens a portal and takes off for a new area. At the behest of Finn and Jake, you follow close behind.
The next area is quite a bit different. Gone are the trees and the water and instead you have purple mountains and snow. It’s a jarring change, but it works out well. The enemies in this level are different. The sandwiches are nowhere to be seen and now there are some sort of bearded fairies. The fairies come in two varieties, one that chases you and tries to hit you and one that flies and shoots an energy ball at you. These guys are a lot harder than the sandwiches and there were times when I actually died because of them.
Jake gets a new ability in this level, a grappling hook of sorts. You hold the right trigger down and a circular reticle appears on screen. If there is something grabbable within range (always a windsock pole) then the circle will turn green. At that point you let go of the trigger and Jake does his noodle body thing to stretch out to the pole and grab it, then retracts his butt, and therefore you and Finn, over to where he is. It’s a neat mechanic that, like everything Jake does, keeps the game from getting stale. In most of the situations where you need to use this ability it is simply about traversal, it doesn’t add any difficulty to the game. But toward the end of the level there are times where the pole can’t be reached from where you are standing and you have to jump out over a chasm and then use the ability. This isn’t particularly hard, but it does add some tension.
Because this is a review I feel that I have to point out a couple of cons. The first is that it is way too short. There are only two stages. I have twenty minutes of video for this review and it covers the whole game from beginning to end. I can’t complain too much about that because it’s free, but it is a crime that a game this good ends so soon. It makes me really hope that there is another game in the works.
The other con is the ending. It’s bad. I mean, it’s kind of funny, but throughout the whole game I could feel love Turbo Button had for this game and then the end feels rushed. It feels like they loved making the game for a while and then suddenly got tired of it, or else realized “holy crap, the deadline is tomorrow, we have to wrap this up!” I don’t want to give a spoiler so I can’t even tell you what the biggest problem with the ending is, but I think it will be aparent to anyone who makes it there. Maybe it’s something that I would find funny if I watched the show, but as it is it’s a pretty big let down. I’m hoping that this is really just a demo and that the real game is coming and it won’t end where this game does, but I’ve heard nothing to that effect so I can’t say.
Adventure Time: Magic Man’s Head Games is a really well made game with bright colourful graphics and witty banter between the two characters. It does a brilliant job of bringing you into the game without making you one of the characters from the show. It’s as though you are hanging out with them, rather than becoming them. The controls are tight and Turbo Button has squeezed an awful lot of fun, humour and beauty into a pretty small mobile game. Because it is so short I wouldn’t say that Adventure Time is a system seller, but if you already own a GearVR, download it now (right, like you haven’t already) and if you are planning on getting yourself a Gear VR in the near future, get excited because this is going to be the best 20 minutes of free game you are likely to play in the near future.
*By the way, I just tried to Google that commercial. It doesn’t exist. So if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re out of luck.