Come on Grab Your Friends
I am a devout fan of Adventure Time. I find it one of the most enjoyable shows ever created- everything from its smart writing and hand-drawn animation to its quirky jokes and unique characters had be enamored from day one. I also enjoy The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Personally, it remains my favorite Zelda game of all time.
You could imagine my excitement, then, when Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion was announced for the Nintendo Switch. Combining one of my favorite shows with one of my favorite games seemed like a match made in Heaven. Unfortunately, my excitement quickly turned to disappointment and frustration.
I’m not going to beat dance around the subject. Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion is a bad game. There are countless design choices, frame rate problems, and glitches that just scream that the game was rushed.
The moment you boot up the game, you immediately notice that the dialogue audio is inconsistent at best, the lip syncing is almost never on point, and the animations are stiff (I don’t even want to tell you what they did to Lumpy Space Princess). Couple this with a story that just feels tacked on. There are constant references to events that happened in the show, but they never serve the plot and end up feeling cheap as a result. It’s like Cartoon Network was solely relying on the brand power of the show to drive the game (shocker, I know).
You might still wonder if Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchridion is still worth playing despite all of these graphical quirks. After all, if the core game is fun, then those other flaws can be ignored. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
If you want to do anything in the game, you have to sit through several loading screens that would give Sonic 06 a run for its money (I’m not exaggerating). Despite being an open-world game that lets you travel to anywhere in Ooo, every location has to load separately before you enter it. Not only does it totally break the pace of the game, it breaks your investment in the game.
I haven’t even gotten to the combat yet, which is average at best. Instead of an active battle system like the game that inspired it, Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchridion goes for a turn-based RPG, in which there are status effects, special moves, and even ultra attacks (that’s not what they’re called, but I couldn’t care less). These battles can be enjoyable under very specific circumstances, if you manage to sit past the painful loading screen that starts before each one, that is.
What bogs down the fighting is how poorly the difficulty is set up in the game. A lot of the enemies are way too powerful than they should be, leading to a lot of deaths that I feel shouldn’t have happened in the early game. Making matters worse is the fact that, while your characters gain experience, it doesn’t actually power them up. The only way to make them stronger is to manually level up each of their stats and abilities with the EXACT SAME currency you use to buy items, which you need a lot because there aren’t many places that will heal your party. Not only will you constantly be eating through health potions, but you constantly have to stop what you’re doing to upgrade your party so you don’t get destroyed in the next fight.
Another problem I noticed is that there aren’t many stats loaded with each character. For example, a standard sword attack with Finn could do 87 damage. Regardless of what enemy he’s fighting, it will always do 87 damage (without upgrades and defense-boosting abilities, etc). In other, better RPGs, attacks almost never do the same amount because each enemy is designed differently with different stats and abilities in mind. Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion just screams, “My first RPG game!”
If it Runs
All of these problems don’t paint a good picture, but that’s not even the worst part. Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion is crashes and is painfully easy to glitch (not in the fun way). Twice I got stuck on a loading screen and was met with an error before being thrown back to the Switch Home Menu. There was another time that I beat a difficult boss, but the game didn’t register a completed battle, so the only way to get out was to reboot the game and do the fight again.
Moving through the overworld is plagued with constant frame-rate stuttering and pop-in, easily breaking the immersion of what should’ve been an exciting game to explore. It’s just not fun, and that pains me to say it.
The Bright Side
There are a few good things about Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion. There are some charming moments, like when Finn and Jake sing purposely awful songs as they sail Ooo. The art style, while not impressive, does essentially bring the show to a 3D environment quite well. Fans will also appreciate a lot of the less gratuitous references with the characters’ moves. The soundtrack isn’t awful either.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion was provided by Outright Games.