With Jake the Dog and Finn the Human!
Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?! is a licensed game developed by WayForward (known for retro games like Contra 4 and Double Dragon: Neon) with the cooperation of Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward, who acted as a writer on the game, and had direct input in the design. Adventure Time the show has a retro-game/animé-cool aesthetic that embraces pop culture while taking digs at it.
The game has been designed with that knowledge intact. When I described the game to friends after seeing it for the preview build, I casually told people it was a Zelda II clone, with its shadowy monsters on the overworld map, action-RPG leveling, and side-scrolling platforming with sword combat action. Similarly, both the dungeons and the open-world environment has areas closed off until certain abilities are unlocked, a la Metroid-vania.
But Adventure Time: HIK!WYSOG?! goes the extra mile in the writing, placing the structure in context of the show. It's suitably silly, with series villain, The Ice King, having stolen Finn and Jake's garbage for the purpose of using it to create garbage-statue princesses for them to rescue (but really in a passive-aggressive bid to get Jake and Finn to be his friends). From there, the game continues replete with references to the show.
On gameplay, Adventure Time is very clean and responsive. It has an old-school flare, putting the onus on the player to avoid being hit by some enemies, but there are many health items that keep this from being a problem in all but a few boss encounters. Combat-wise, the only issue is that after landing from a jump, if you press the attack button as you land, it may not work. Leveling up Finn's speed seems to help quite a bit, but it's still an issue for the first part of the game or if you choose to level up other stats.
Jake is lazy, so he sits in Finn's backpack and can perform a long attack for less damage but longer duration and reach. The abilities that allow you to explore new areas are unlocked after characters convince Jake, who can morph his size and shape to whatever he wants, to overcome his laziness and change into a specific form to get around obstacles. To float he becomes an umbrella, to move against gale-force winds or deflect enemy projectiles his ears become a shield.
Health items are kept in Finn's backpack, on the bottom screen (the bottom screen is Finn and Jake's living video game system BMO, who performs all map and inventory functions) in the form of food dropped when enemies are defeated. The restorative properties can be added to (or even made harmful) by adding the right or wrong kind of condiments, which are also dropped by enemies. Add syrup to pancakes,and you get extra health back, but add ketchup to an apple and it may remove it instead.
The game looks great—when I saw it earlier this year, the preview build was missing some assets—but they've since been replaced with beautifully rendered icons. The game perfectly sits between the animation style of the show and the retro style of the games it's looking to emulate. Thematically, it's about as good a rendering as one could imagine for blending the two mediums. Back during the preview, the developers from WayForward told me that the DS and 3DS versions were identical; the 3DS version just has a diorama look to it, with different flat planes pulled forward or backward.
Adventure Time's main fault is its length. It's a short game, which feels a bit like a downloadable title for console in size. It does have a New Game Plus mode with harder enemies, but starting the game with all the existing upgrades did not seem to be that much more challenging, even with an increased difficulty level.
However, fans of the series and of old-school action games from the NES and SNES era may delight in its nod to a particular era of gaming and its strong adaptation of the TV show. The soundtrack is mostly a fun chiptune throwback to that era as well. Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?! is a fun game that's true to its source content, but is regrettably short.