Adventure Time: Magic Man’s Head Games…

… and other platformers.

In my last post, I was really psyched over the suspension of disbelief, cartoony, fantasy world like experience. It’s fitting that my first purchased content would be this game.

To be honest, I bought this for two reasons.

  1. It’s cheap at $4.99
  2. I freaking love Adventure Time

The result was that I was blown away. And this is odd, because if it was a normal 3D game release, it would be INCREDIBLY underwhelming. Even a bit underwhelming for $4.99.

Why? Well, gameplay won’t last more than an hour or so. Maybe two. The enemies aren’t that good (you’re mostly fighting sandwiches that don’t do much). The story isn’t deep at all, and the graphics are “meh”.

You too, reading this post can be pretty ambivalent by looking at a screen capture

adventure-time

 

Like I said, the graphics are “meh”. But allow me to say the first good thing about it, and its that the graphics it does have captures the cartoony nature of the show pretty well.

In VR though? Wow.

In a year or two, I think this game will be as underwhelming in VR as it appears. But props to Turbo Button¬†for making you feel like a part of the game. Right off the bat, it’s just crazy cute to live virtually inside this admittedly sparse world and seeing Finn the Human and Jake the Dog interacting with you.

Also right away, the story is very cleverly set up for the medium. I do think content creators should take note of the way you’re ingrained into the story and to have that become a mechanism for playing the game.

Lemme explain…

The game starts with you approaching Finn and Jake on a field as a tiny person/thing/whatever. You’re instantly accepted as buds with them. You never see who/what you are because it’s all first person view. Unfortunately, Magic Man pops in randomly from out of nowhere and starts wreaking havoc (sounds weird, but actually very in character with the show). Magic Man uses his magic and makes you, the player, incredibly huge. This story mechanism, effectively turns you into the camera.

Finn and Jake plod on as you¬†control Finn with your XBOX controller. But you as….well, huge you/game camera both follow them around in hopes Magic Man can be found and subdued into turning you back to normal size. The perspective/size change alone, is something very interesting and ripe to explore in VR. This game only touches it briefly as it’s story intro, but all the same, I’d love to see more in other experiences.

Now that you’re the game camera, very interesting things can be found and, well NOT found.

Go back to the first set of popular 3D platformers. Say….Mario 64:

mario

Because it was 3D, there was a camera. The camera would awkwardly follow you around, and when it was exceptionally awkward, you’d use your joystick to move it.

With Adventure Time, the camera still follows Finn around…but only loosely. Remember that you are the camera, and peeling the onion skin back, you’re wearing a headset on your face that you control as naturally as you would looking around in real life.

The game doesn’t have very intricate levels, but there are some hiddenish paths to explore. Free movement of your head as well as the ability to physically lean, duck, stand on your tiptoes in real life adds a VERY interesting element to the old 3D platformer. In some ways I can liken it to controlling a character within a dollhouse in good old fashioned meat space. Its a very unique perspective. I only wish that there were other ways to control it besides the XBOX controller, because that feel in your hands pulls you back to thinking it’s fake again.

Its so hard to get this point across without experiencing it for yourself. Just imagine being able to standup and look around this environment while your character hangs tight

adventure-time2

In a further nod to keeping you part of the game, both Finn and Jake will interact with you and talk to you regularly. Sometimes exploiting the infamous cheesy “I’m watching a 3D movie gag” by throwing something in your face. But yah, here’s Finn chatting you up:

adventure-time3

All in all, its so worth $4.99. Probably not worth an extra zero, but I’m really glad I purchased this one as my first VR game. The original voices and sticking to an albeit simplish Adventure Time plot with very Finn and Jake-ish dialog makes me smile.

I should also toss a nod to a game called “Lucky’s Tale”. This game comes free with the Rift, but I didn’t try it until after Adventure Time. It’s obviously more geared towards kids, as adult me didn’t care about the story. It was also a bit boring and cheap just capturing coins as I plod through the levels. Use of the camera in this 3D platformer has the same gameplay mechanic as Adventure Time did, but without getting written into the story. I think by the time I got to Lucky’s Tale, my awe and wonder for the re-invention of the 3D platformer was used up, so this fell flat for me. That said, if you’re shy about trying it and you have a Rift, it certainly won’t cost you anything! And also to be fair, I do think the art direction, style, and level design surpasses Adventure time by a fair bit.

luckys-tale

What to cover next? I just recently bought Subnautica and the Climb. Both are pretty fascinating, and I’ll write these up later. As you can tell, I’m not so concerned with telling you about core gameplay or how fun it is. I even thought I might just analyze user interaction in VR – how it’s done in this brave new world, but it turns out that what kinds of feelings this content evokes is a major part of the user experience.

 

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