A Playable Cartoon
Not only does The Adventure Pals look like a Saturday morning cartoon, it plays like one too. Never taking itself seriously from a narrative or gameplay standpoint, this is a pleasurable, casual action platformer that does not overstay its welcome and offers plenty of humor along the way.
Playing as boy with a sword, the overall goal is to find your kidnapped father while saving old people who have been turned into hot dogs. With colorful environments and ridiculous dialog, it is almost like playing an episode of anything that airs on the cartoon channel. But The Adventure Pals is an action platformer that will have the player jumping, combo button mashing, wall jumping, ledge clinging, and helicopter floating to the end of each stage. Defeated enemies also drop experience points in which the player can earn additional perks to increase quality of life gameplay mechanics. Oh yeah, and your constant companion is a giraffe that uses his tongue to decrease falling speed; this animation and overall game mechanic is almost worth the price of admission byitself. And you also become friends with a floating pet rock and listen to forest animals jam on guitar (one side quest you need to find them some special stuff to keep their creative juices flowing). Again, this is a wacky adventure that doesn’t make sense but doesn’t need to make sense.
Check out my stream below in which I play through some of the highlighting features of The Adventure Pals.
Level design is never overbearing or too difficult and reminded me something like a Kirby game. Players are rewarded for completing stages quickly and by comboing monsters but the reward is nothing more than higher letter ranking at the end result screen. Instead, players are will receive more entertainment value exploring each stage’s linear path to collect all the secret cupcakes and stickers. The boy’s floaty jumps and clingy ledge grabs take a little getting used to but the level design never calls for pixel perfect, twitch reflexes. In a way, this is almost the opposite of, say, Super Meat Boy, and I think it is all the better for it. Unfortunately, attacking is rarely more than button mashing only with the occasional dodge thrown in for good measure. But the ledge clinging and giraffe buddy, which acts like a Swiss Army Knife by opening doors or knocking down distance switches, keeps progress and the narrative nicely paced.
If you are lucky enough to have a local friend nearby, local-only co-op play can make the solid single player campaign even more enjoyable. It is a little annoying that death, which usually only happens by falling down a pit (one-hit kills that doesn’t happen often), forces the player back to the beginning of a checkpoint. Each stage is also on the longer side too, most clocking in between 10-20 minutes. While this isn’t necessarily a concern but becomes annoying when you miss that one hidden cupcake and need to replay the entire 15-minute level over again in hopes of finding it.
Unexpectedly, The Adventure Pals has one awesomely composed soundtrack. All of it is so good especially the main town/village theme. For a $14.99 game, there is no business for the soundtrack to be this well done. Graphically, the game is a visual treat. From the opening splash screen to the confetti jump effect, there are these little flourishes that make this pleasant platformer ooze with goofy personality.
The Adventure Pals does not offer anything that hasn’t been done dozens of times before. But even though it is a simple action platformer, it still shines bright as one of the better indie titles released this year. Even if you cannot play cooperatively, the single player romp offers enough entertainment and humor for players to want it see it through to the end, and if nothing else, enjoy the top quality soundtrack and humorous dialog. It is unfortunate that is title will probably be overlooked or stereotyped as an Adventure Time knockoff, but there is enough fun here to fulfill your casual platforming fix.
Also available on PC, PS4, Mac, and Switch.
Not As Good As: any Mario game
Better Than: Poi: Explorer Edition (Switch)
Also Try: Kirby’s Epic Yarn (Wii)