ADVENTURE AWAITS! The adventure genre is a diverse and often inspired realm in gaming. Whether it is inspired by its lore, like God of War and its mythos based narrative, or games based off movies & TV shows being closely related to the subject matter. Adventure Pals is seemingly inspired by Adventure Time, the wildly popular Cartoon Network series, which I too am a fan of. They do say imitation is the best form of flattery, and by those means, this game does good by the aforementioned show. While many of the Adventure Time game spin-offs have failed to materialize great critical feedback, Adventure Pals is actually a really solid title. Thankfully it stands out on its own quickly thanks to its great characters, hilarious writing, charming visuals, and mostly satisfying combat.
Adventure Pals tells the story of Wilton, a young man who whilst celebrating his birthday is suddenly thrown into an adventure that sees him off to save the world. After being gifted a pet giraffe and new best friend named Sparkles, Wilton’s dad is suddenly kidnapped by the dastardly Mr. B, who is turning old folks into Hot Dog people (for reasons!). With Sparkles in his backpack, and tiny rock like friend Mr. Rock floating at his side, Wilton sets out on a journey to save his father, collecting countless rubies, and trade seemingly living cupcakes in for hats, all in the name of friendship!
Gameplay wise, Adventure Pals is a side scrolling hack-and-slash with some platforming elements. The world map allows you to access shops, arenas, and the levels of course. Each level has five unique segments, which adds up to a nice chunk of scenery considering there are over 20 base levels. While you may have other goals during your travels, like fetch quests and companion quests, each level typically ends when you find a ruby. These rubies usually have meaning related to the story, which is often pointed out as being redundant and intentionally so, as it is a working staple in many games that can at times feel simplistic. It gets the job done though for sure, and works for the games structure. The game has a lot to offer, with the story progressing well and lasting over 10 hours (at least for me anyways.) The easy but fun combat makes the game enjoyable without keeping you wishing for more.
In Adventure Pals, you get to fight a variety of enemies, including hot dog people, bandits and more. Different backdrops like the forest as well as Crablantis (an underwater world) provide a change of scenery as well as the addition of new enemy types. Each area typically ends with a boss fight, as adventure games are known to do. Combat with these enemies is solid, but kind of uninspired. There are no options to block or roll (there is a dodge, but more on that later), so it’s basically a hack and slash at this point. Not much skill or finesse is needed, which is fine, but it does make the combat get boring from time to time. There is a backpack and a variety of items available; potions (like health and invincibility), bombs (different styles here too), and even a compass to help you track down collectables. These keep things fresh, and was a feature I was not expecting considering the gameplay style.
Another gameplay feature I was not expecting was a leveling/experience system. This is by far one of the standouts, and truly kept things from growing stale as it allowed you to earn new perks. Upon each rank (21 max), you are allowed to pick from one of three available perks. Some add new options to your combat, like the ability to counter after dodging (in which your giraffe companion yanks onto the enemy) or seeing Mr. Rock take care of business himself with some damaging combos. Others make your items stay stocked, with options to have Mr. Rock occasionally bring you items or to make enemies drop items from time to time. These perks are a worthy addition, and the leveling system (as it does in many games) keeps you interested, making you take advantage of fights even when you may be able to avoid them.
From a visual standpoint, Adventure Pals is a knockout. It showcases some of the brightest and best visuals I have seen on the Switch yet, looking damn great in handheld mode. With all the lively characters and settings, the colors and clean visuals make all the difference. There are tons of little details too, my favorite of which being Wilton’s Doom-esque portrait which changes depending on the health amount. The music is also pretty good, showcasing some catchy tunes along the way. The game does catch a bit of flak from me though in regards to its highly noticeable frame rate drops during arena battles and the final boss fight, which showcase more enemies than normal.
Adventure Pals is a great pickup, specifically so on the Switch. It offers at least ten hours of gameplay, and for completionists, a bit more for those who miss some collectables along the way. Great visuals, charming characters, and hilarious dialogue make for a worthwhile narrative, which is supplemented by its tight gameplay. Though combat can sometimes grow tiresome, its introduction of both an inventory and a leveling system keeps things fresh and fun, giving you goals to work towards as well as tools to support your travels. Massive Monster has put together a great overall package, and all its goodness can be played with in co-op too. If you have some real life friends to play with, or want to join some digital ones, grab your controllers and get ready for ADVENTURE!
*Note: A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of the review.
Final Score: 8/10
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