“Adventure Time, c’mon grab your friends. We’ll go to very distant lands. With Jake the dog and Finn the human, the fun will never end, it’s Adventure Time!”
The Adventure Time theme song actually suits Adventure Time: Finn & Jake Investigations. I spent my time playing the game with a friend next to me, because it is indeed more fun to Adventure Time with someone else to laugh at the absurdity of the whole thing. The distant lands? That’s covered in the game as well, with locales around the Land of Ooo being explored for clues through this little quest. The fun never ending bit, though, that’s the big question mark hovering in my mind as I began to play.
The story itself is kind of lame. Finn, Jake, and BMO randomly find a tickertype that was used by their parents, but nobody knows who it got into Jake’s secret hiding hole to begin with. No matter, though, because the tickertype can be used to solved mysteries! Nobody loves a good mystery more Finn and Jake! Except perhaps myself: I am beyond familiar with sleuth games, including Frogwares’ Sherlock Holmes series and all those horribly wonderful CSI games. Logically speaking, an amazing cartoon plus mystery equals so much fun. In practice, it becomes a mix both odd and addictive.
At first, the controls were immensely confusing. The player controls Finn (the human) using the left joystick. Tutorials popped up later in the game that would have been more helpful to have upfront. However, I quickly learned on my own that when the action menu is up (it’s like a little circle or cross of possibilities overlaying objects) the location of the action corresponded to the button to push; for example, if there was an action I wanted to use was at the bottom of the circle/cross thing I would need to hit A because the button is in the same location. It sounds confusing, but it really was quick to learn (although a simple tutorial would have made it quicker). And as I learned much later, if you stand still with the actions pulled up long enough, it does tell you which button corresponds to which action.
Getting the action menu to pull up is often an annoyance that involves walking back and forth until the perfect moment where you’re standing precisely where you need to, and an icon appears to say you can do something. That isn’t the only annoyance in the controls: you can’t run anywhere so going back and forth as required can become tedious, there is zero control over the camera angle, and sometimes when selecting items from inventory it also does the associated action if the action menu is also pulled up.
Now that all the boring control stuff is out of the way, onto more important things! As I mentioned earlier, the way Finn and Jake come into the mysteries is lackluster. But the mysteries themselves actually turn out to be a lot of fun. I will attempt not to ruin any of them, but will use the first case to illustrate my point. The tickertype sends Finn and Jake to Candy Kingdom to investigate the imprisonment of someone they believe to be innocent. To prove it, they need to poke around the candy-filled crime scene to find evidence that it had to be someone else before bringing the information to Princess Bubblegum (my favourite character). While gathering evidence in the form of notes, they also gather some objects to use at a later date. Because of the goings on, though, they cannot leave Candy Kingdom to find the true culprit without finding a cake tray and a secret way out. Yes, a cake tray. There is clearly very important business happening in this game.
Like all detective games, it is beyond important in Adventure Time: Finn & Jake Investigations to take the time to look at every single thing in every single area. Odds are you’ll still miss something and need to go back, but it’s a lot less frustrating to go back for one of two things versus several missed items. That being said, quite often something else will appear after an area was cleared and you do need to return; I found this to be an annoyance as it’s not a system I’m entirely used to, but once I realised what was going on it was easy enough to adapt to (but frustrating nonetheless).
Aside from the adventuring and the detectiving, there are also some combat sequences. Combat happens as you approach a character or area and there is someone there who wants to fight (quite often goblins). In Finn and Jake’s treehouse there is a cupboard that allows you to change your weapon based on what you’ve acquired throughout the game, and combat is where this weapon comes into play. Different weapons provide different abilities, such as tree roots growing out of the ground or gems falling from the sky. Abilities are activated by streaks. Otherwise, all swords essentially function the same way while hacking-and-slashing those goblins.
For the first time (there are four or five previous Adventure Time titles) the Land of Ooo and all that inhabit it are displayed in full, brightly coloured 3D. I will now pause so everyone can let out a simultaneous “Ooooooo.” Get it? Super bad jokes aside, Adventure Time: Finn & Jake Investigations looks really great. Everything is perfectly coloured, and the textures the art team was able to achieve (for example, Princess Bubblegum’s candy hair) are impressive. The loading screens are reminiscent of the show’s title cards. My main issue with the graphics is more of a user interface complaint: when characters are talking they are automatically captioned in a box that takes up about one-third of the screen real estate, even if they are only saying two words. Not only that, but quite often there is action taking place underneath the caption. That’s a big no-no in game design and makes me begin to rage every time I noticed action happening that is obscured by text.
The sound and music is exactly what I would expect from anything related to Adventure Time. The best way to describe the music is “happy.” It’s as though all the pretty, bright colours from the graphics were translated somehow into the music. More importantly, all of the voice cast from the show voiced their respective characters in the game. Arguably the greatest voice actor of our time, John DiMaggio is back to voice Jake, and Finn is voiced by Jeremy Shada. Tom Kenny is the man behind the flawed but loveable Ice King. The cast also includes Hynden Walch (Princess Bubblegum), Niki Yang (BMO and Lady Rainicorn), Olivia Olson (Marceline), and Jessica DiCicco (Flame Princess); they all lend their voice to the same character in the game as they do in the show. The result of the same voice actors working is that the sound is exactly (and I mean exactly) what one should expect from such a game. Not once did I find myself removed from what was going on by thinking, “Hmmm, this character doesn’t sound right, I should look it up and see if it’s a different actor.”
Adventure Time: Finn & Jake Investigations is eventually a Sherlock Holmes game with an Adventure Time skin and dialect (Algabraic!”), but that is quite okay by me. The finnicky issues that arose did little to take away from how whimsical the game is. The story? Great. The graphics? Great? The sound? Mathematical!
– Lindsay M.