Posted on 21 Apr 2018 by Adison

The Adventure Pals

The Defence

Developer: Massive Monster
Publisher: Armor Games Studios
Genre: Action, Adventure, Indie, Platformer, Role Playing
Platform: Consoles, PC
Review copy: Yes
Release date: No data.

The Prosecution

Minimum
OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo : None
VGA: AMD Radeon HD 5450
RAM: 4 GB
HDD: 1500 MB
DirectX: 9
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: Unknown

The Case

The Adventure Pals is a side-scrolling puzzle platformer with melee combat elements developed by Massive Monster. Armor Games Studios had a hand in the publishing, and I have to say that I find it mildly surprising. The game harkens back to the classic system of running around slapping stuff while gathering goodies so you can get more goodies to slap stuff with. The big twist on this one is the rather amusing art style and comedic elements within the game. So can we say that this game is a serious hit, or a crippling miss? I personally vouch for it being a bit of both.

The Trial

Let’s start with the good, since I actually quite enjoy the game, and find it deserves it’s best foot forward. The game is well designed, for starters, which is to say that it does everything it says it will do. The controls are splendidly tight and responsive; I can honestly say I have never failed or died because of them. This is a gold star on their chart, since slippery or poorly set up controls and hitboxes are a huge pet peeve of mine. Games like The Adventure Pals should never make you wish you were playing something else purely due to the controls, and this one doesn’t do that. I will however warn that playing on a keyboard is a chore, I actually went out and finally bought a controller to play the game as it was intended. It warned me, and I didn’t listen.

When talking about the graphics, it’s more like saying “I like this art because it’s silly and fun.” rather than claiming that they’re amazingly detailed. The game has that romp around goofiness that does a great job reminding me of games often developed by The Behemoth. Though I also get some Scribblenauts flashbacks while playing it. They have very similar tones and the art harkens along the same vein rather easily. I do prefer this crisp style though, as a lot of the 3D art modeling in faster paced games tends to obliterate my brain with obscenely fast blurs of usually too vibrant color.

Can you be any more smug?

Gameplay is well paced and frequently very fun, it adheres to the concepts it started with, and doesn’t change much after that. There are a lot of unique little items to use against enemies. The leveling up system almost feels a bit unneeded, as the upgrade choices are all pretty clear cut. You don’t want bigger bombs, bombs cost money, and money is one of the sticking points I hit early in the game. There are chests in the levels that offer 3 objects if you spend gold on them. This is a truly terrible idea, as it’s a complete gamble. I ended up burning all my gold and just getting bombs that didn’t really help me much. Or spending gold to get a single bomb and two little pouches of gold. Why is it even possible to get gold out of a chest you’re spending gold to open? No idea.

Enemy variety is plentiful and the designs are well balanced, there’s ways to beat everything without having to worry too much about being kicked around like a hacky sack. The Adventure Pals does cute very well, and there are adorable animals that help you throughout the journey as well. My personal favorite are the fairy cats, who even go so far as to put on diving masks when you go underwater in the later levels. Story, however,  is where we hit another sticking point. The story is haphazard and silly, which can be fine as long as there’s at least some kind of thread to follow. This story does have a thread, but the reason for the thread is missing from the story. A bad dude shows up just to be bad and in a particularly weird way. Again, not terrible, just a minor sticking point.

BLLLAAUUGGHGH!

Now we run into a moderate snag, formula. Many games have this issue, so it’s probably the only part of this game that’s actually frustrating. When you build a game you have to make it exciting enough, or at least addictive enough, that the players just want to keep playing it. Despite the well set up systems, and even the silly or cute designs, I found myself getting bored with the formula of the game after the first two maps are complete. You would arrive on the map, and then you either talk to a single person, or a bunch of people in a small cleverly amusing town. These people give you quests, which thusly unlock zones to complete. Go into zone, get cupcakes and sticker package, beat up enemies, get ruby. Once you get 5 rubies, you can very much expect to immediately lose them, go to the next map, and do it all over again. The only thing that makes this a moderate snag and not a serious snag, is that every level progresses with new puzzle elements. I will say it still felt like I was walking through a bog, it was a glittery shiny bog that smelled like baking cookies, but it was a bog nonetheless.

The Verdict

Even though it was a bog slog, I found myself enjoying a few hours of the game a day. That, however, doesn’t by any means imply that I would play it again. Creative, clever, and cute are the biggest aspects for this game, with tight controls and moderately well done combat and item systems. Where it fails to meet the rough expectations simply lies in the repetitive nature of it all, which can bring a bit of tedium to the game. All in all, the game does a splendid job of making itself known but it doesn’t blow quite blow the socks off. I would say that this is quite a success for Massive Monster. If you like this variety of game, give it a chance. Where I find tedium, you may find relaxation.

Case Review

  • Grand Slam: The smooth controls and rapid combat makes puzzling and fighting very fun.

  • Slappity Silly: This may hit a ‘trying too hard’ nerve for some, but the goofy game is clever, what can I say!

  • Creativity: Like some other great games, they were stupendously creative with their art.

  • Fairy Cat: Seriously, I absolutely love the fairy cat. It gets points just for that.

  • The Bog!: I know, I’m sorry. But the journey through the game sometimes felt like mud.

4 Score: 4/5
Let's be frank, this is a hot dog.

Evidence

  • Graphics: Nothing fancy, just the basics. Shake, Flash, screen type and Shaders. All on off switches.
  • Controls: Just shows you what they are for controller. Does not allow changing, and doesn’t tell you them for keyboard. Frustrating!
  • Audio: Music and SFX volume control.
  • Additional: Controller vibration on and off.
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