MAYBE IT SHOULD REMAIN NAMELESS
Adventure Time is no stranger to video games–within the four years since the TV series’ debut, there has been nearly ten games across multiple platforms, Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom being the latest one. While WayForward Technologies has also developed the game for PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, and Xbox 360, we will be taking a look at the Nintendo 3DS iteration of the game.
Adventure Time: Secrets of the Nameless Kingdom puts you in the boots of Jake (the dog) and Finn (the human), who happen to be on a mission to save three lost princesses. The title’s story is standard fare with respect to videogames, certainly not original, and perhaps a touch sexist. More importantly, the plot line surrounding Adventure Time did not engage me. The question deserves to be asked, can Adventure Time overcome its tired tropes to become something more memorable?
Personally I tire of the stale trope that tasks the male hero to rescue a helpless princess (or in this case, princesses) from evil doers. Maybe I am just touchy to the current climate of gaming, however at best it just comes off of lazy. Despite a stale plot and a tired trope, what Adventure Time does bring to the table is barrel loads of funny. The dialogue is at times laugh-out-loud, in turn so are the characters you meet throughout the Nameless Kingdom. The humorous exchanges, items, characters and quest bolster the playability of this game tremendously.
The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom is a top-down, action-adventure, puzzle game in the vein of the latest Zelda releases for Nintendo handheld consoles. Adventure Time could have the same product description as any other Zelda title: “Swing your sword to defeat enemies and use the various items at your disposal to solve the increasingly complex puzzles and secrets, all while saving helpless princesses trapped in treacherous temples.” Wayforward Technologies itself is unscrupulous in copying Zelda and many of the game mechanics within. Adventure Time is almost a carbon copy in that respect. Compared to Zelda’s puzzles which are generally clever and self evident, puzzles in AT:TSofNK were more challenging in a “how the heck am I supposed to know that?” way.
I found myself itching to pop a Zelda game in my 3DS because it does everything this games tries to do , but so much better. I get the feeling Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom is trying to, in itself, parody video games. Heck the show is, in and of itself, steeped in video game culture. Having said that, I feel if your aim is parody, the title must be on point with the execution, lest your parody fall flat. It would seem that in many ways Adventure Time falls short of my expectations of it as a game.
The presentation of this game leaves something to be desired. The graphics are in my opinion and compared to other offerings on the 3DS just barely acceptable and worsened by the obvious lack of 3D. I mean come on, I know many people don’t like to play with the 3D engaged, fact is there are many (like me) who do! Also disappointing was the appearance of the odd graphical artifact and what seemed to be screen tearing. One positive note is the art style, the animations paired with the art style fit the Adventure Time universe and add to the game, ending this section on a high note.
The sound and music of the game are middle-of-the-road at best, stealing many of the iconic sounds from Zelda games. Most notably, this includes the chest opening chime we as gamers know all too well. The soundtrack itself is forgettable with no earworms or catchy hooks that stick with you. It’s not all negative though; the voice-over work done by the actors of the show is professionally executed. This adds some weight in the sound department, highlighting the humor and allowing for great comedic timing. Most of, if not all, the major players from the show make an appearance and have some form of side quest for you, all of which are voiced. The audio profile of Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom is certainly not worthy of any high praise but not bad enough to diminish the somewhat lackluster gameplay.
The Verdict: 6.5 out of 10
On the whole, Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom is in my opinion poorly executed on many fronts. Doubly so when compared to the series it steals from the most, Zelda. From a graphics perspective this game leave us wanting due in good part to technical issues not usually associated with 3DS games. Even if the artstyle is true to the television series, it is hard to look past the minor technical issues and lack of 3D. On the gameplay front, this game is way too similar to the Zelda series to warrant any mention beyond that fact, Adventure Time is a reskinned Zelda. The inclusion of full voice work lifts the audio up a touch and is certainly a welcome asset to an otherwise average sound profile. However, the best work of all was the humor put into the game. I most certainly had a few chuckles while playing through Adventure Time and this, more than anything else, was my motivation to move forward. At the end of the day, if you identify as a fan of top-down Zelda games and Adventure Time, then The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom is likely to be up your alley. This is not a bad game however I wouldn’t call it a great game either. It is middling at best.
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Matthew Keates is an Associate Writer for MONG, he spends his time doing stuff that is none of your concern, you may not follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Twitch as you are not worthy.