When Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion was announced, I was overjoyed. Outright Games excited Adventure Time fans and gamers alike with the announcement of its The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker inspired game including the use of sailing and a similar art style to the fan-favorite Gamecube-turned-WiiU remaster title. Total disclaimer: I’m a mega fan of the show. I’ve been meaning to write a series on it for Gaming Historia, but I’m genuinely concerned that it would encompass all my time and energy to dive into the World of Ooo.
Nevertheless, I had realistic expectations for Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion following other lackluster game adaptations of my beloved Cartoon Network series, including Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW!, Finn & Jake Investigations, and The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom just to name a few. Game adaptations of movies and TV shows seemed to be a much bigger deal between the 1980s and 2000s, with nearly every blockbuster action movie coming with an aimless, often void-of-value video game. Some were good, like 24: The Video Game based on the FOX show, and some were not, like Grey’s Anatomy: The Video Game, which is honestly worth watching a “Let’s Play” of for the failure of its premise and execution.
The point is this: TV adaptations are often less than impressive, and the Adventure Time games are largely in that category as well. Does Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion curve the trend or fall into time-tried traps of not being enough of a game, and far too much pandering? Let’s find out.
The game opens and feels authentic to an Adventure Time episode. Finn and Jake wake up from an unplanned slumber to a flooded home thanks to an overflowing Ocean of Ooo. Almost immediately, you hop in a ship and begin finding that the world as you knew it is now islands spread out across a map, much like any great pirate game. Each island feels new and unique, and in many ways exist as various levels hidden in the form of one single map.
You don’t choose where to go when you want to go, but rather are fed plot points to continue pointing you towards the correct island. It’s actually impossible to go out of the determined order. That feels limiting in a game set on a vast ocean, especially when each voyage to a new island is set to filler dialogue and nearly nothing to do on the ride over to a new space.
Combat is turn-based, much like any cookie cutter RPG. There are clearly classes of characters, yet they aren’t distinguished in Adventure Time-style names, which would have been fun. The combat is simple and straightforward, but here’s the thing, it’s too easy. I’m well aware that Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion is not meant to be a Souls-style game, but the much of the time I blew past enemies and was watching the clock rather than strategizing for the victory. Yes, Adventure Time is a kid’s show, but it evolved as it went on into something more complex. Especially with its D&D influences, Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion should have been more complex than this.
That being said, the game runs smoothly. Walking around islands can get a little clunky at times, but for the most part, the game is consistent in its FPS and fluid audio and visuals. There’s not much left to say about the gameplay, to be honest. As you travel from island to island, you face the same types of enemies with boss battles thrown in, and the combat stays at roughly the same difficulty. A bit more of a curve, and I wouldn’t have had so much time to think about the over-simplified character class system and shallow combat options.
In keeping with Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion’s inspiration from Wind Waker, the game looks great. I love the artistic style, and to me, it’s the reason I enjoyed the game to the extent that I did. Cartoon styles are always going to be compared to Wind Waker, but the Adventure Time charm is there and I really felt as if it was an episode of the show, much like Stick of Truth was for South Park. The game looks great, and if there’s any negative to that, it just made me wish it played a bit better.
Sound-wise, the music is wonderful but not very diverse or vast. A lot of themes repeat, and you get tired of them fast. That being said, having the original voice actors is a big plus and ties in nicely with the fact that the game reminds you a lot of the show. Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion thrives in its visuals and voice acting. A better soundtrack would make this game a must-play for fans, no matter how dull the gameplay can be at times. Nevertheless, more memorable music would have been great, but it wasn’t here.
Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion was something that I looked forward to a lot leading up to its release. I think the fan in me wants to love this game since it stays true to the show, but that’s not what we’re doing in this review. From the game standpoint alone, the combat system and confined map layout make this game feel too linear to be a game based on the open sea or pirates. The characters are as lovable in the game as they are in the show, but they suffer from a dull experience. After completing the game, I ran to Hulu to watch the show again, eager to lose the taste of slight disappointment on my tongue. Fans should check this out, but with caution. If you don’t love the show, or even have a slight interest in it, know that the charm of the Adventure Time elements in Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion only go so far.
An Xbox One review copy of Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion was provided by Outright Games for the purposes of this review.