Title: The Adventure Pals
Developer: Massive Monster
Publisher: Armor Games Studio
Available On: PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
Version Tested: PC
Official Site: https://theadventurepals.com
Release Date: Apr 3, 2018
Where to Buy it: Steam, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
Have you ever played a game that captivated and hooked you within the first 5 minutes of hitting the start game button? Whether it was the artistic choices, the writing or humor or a clever tutorial? For me… this was ‘The Adventure Pals’.
The Adventure Pals is a cartoony action-packed hack-n-slash platformer game with some RPG elements. Adventure Pals can either be played solo or with a friend in local co-op mode and was developed by Massive Monster and published by Armor Games Studio.
Let’s begin out story with focusing on… The Story:
I think what I admire most about this game is how absolutely absurd and silly the premise is. Sometimes we all need to unwind and play a game like this, similar to unwinding by binge-watching cartoons.
It was obvious to me from the get-go that Massive Monster had to have been heavily inspired by cartoons like Adventure Time or even Gravity Falls. Also, I could tell that developers like The Behemoth (creators of Castle Crashers, Battleblock Theater, and Pit People) were a massive influence to them, everything from their visuals down to their quick-witted humor. When I mentioned this in a tweet, Massive Monster replied “The @behemoth are a massive inspiration to us, and we also started out making games on @newgrounds so it’s awesome to be compared to them. They are just super awesome.”
— Massive Monster (@MassiveMonsters) April 22, 2018
The mood and tone are set for us within the first 2 minutes of gameplay when your ‘Papa’ leads you to a surprise birthday gift. You travel through a well-designed little tutorial with a couple funny jokes in between until you finally arrive at your present – a cake. He tells you the gift is actually baked into the cake, and instead of blowing out the candles, he wants you to “BLOW UP” the cake with a bomb he previously gave to you. After taking a few guesses as to what is inside the cake (everything from a naughty dancer to “a bean bag filled with kittens”), you blow up the cake and inside you discover your first “pal” – a pet giraffe you name “Sparkles”.
However, soon after your birthday is ruined when an uninvited guest by the name of Mr. B shows up and dad-naps your Papa! Like all great villains in the past, Mr. B unveils all the details of his evil plans right then and there. He is stealing all old people across the world to turn them into hot dogs… Why?! Because “REASONS”!
Now, the adventure truly begins! You (a young boy named Wilton) and your pals (Sparkles the giraffe and your best friend who is a pet rock appropriately named Mr. Rock) set out on an insane and whacky adventure filled with hack-n-slash action, platforming, bizarre and weird enemies and big-bad-bosses all in the name of friendship, hotdogs and saving the world.
To me, the two crucial fundamentals in any platformer are tight or good controls and good level design. Fortunately for The Adventure Pals, this game has both. I heard some people say that the character felt a bit too floaty at times. Although floaty controls aren’t inherently bad in all platformer games (say for instance Ori and the Blind Forest), I can’t say I agree that your character feels floaty in Adventure Pals. I even tested out the control response time in a few instances and found them to be fairly tight.
While we’re on the subject of controls, I admire that Massive Monster didn’t overcomplicate things and they kept it simple. Along with tapping to jump, you can also hold it down to go a bit higher. Is that a large gap up ahead? Not a problem with my super-duper-high-tech-spinny-Giraffe-tongue-thingy! Tap to jump, then press and hold it again to have Sparkles perform a helicopter move with her tongue. There is also one button for combat, but you can perform combos for maximum butt-kicking efficiency! Lastly, you have a button to access the items in your backpack’s inventory and another to use said item.
I found that the level design was excellent. First off, the bright and colorful hand-drawn visuals make for excellent eye candy, but it’s not too distracting. In every level, there are five separate stages. If you’re not too concerned with collecting everything, you could finish each stage in under five minutes or so. The levels progressively get harder and harder as the game continues, and I found that they also became increasingly more confusing to navigate towards the end. I can only assume that this is done on purpose to drive completionists like myself insane. Aside from the branching paths found in each level/stage, there are also plenty of enemies varying in difficulty and brilliant obstacles to trip you up along the way. I can only hope that the devs come up with a level editor like the one found in The Behemoth’s Battleblock Theater, so fans like us can have non-stop Adventure Pals fun.
Every level has a total of five cupcakes to collect (one in each stage), and one sticker pack is hidden somewhere. Once you have a total of five cupcakes collected, you can bring them to the Cupcake King and he’ll poop out an egg with a random cosmetic for either Mr. Rock or Wilton inside. Also, might I add that the cosmetics you get for Mr. Rock are just so insanely adorable that I couldn’t help but say “aw” out loud on several occasions.
The stickers you find are for your talking sentient sticker book. Aside from finding one in each level, you can also purchase them from vendors scattered across the world or by obtaining them from certain quests. And I played the Steam version of this game, so I don’t know if this is just exclusive Steam only, but there were lots of fun stickers for other amazing indie games like Hollow Knight and Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop!
When defeating enemies you get both gold and XP. By collecting enough XP you’ll eventually level up and have the choice between 3 random abilities. Gold is used for a few different things. Found in every level are chests. Some chests are free and provide even more gold, and other chests you have to actually pay gold to open it. There are also some other chests to be found, like the kind that grants certain combat attributes (for example critical hit, electricity, fire damage, etc.). Aside from chests, gold is used to purchase goodies from vendors like a variety of different bombs, potions and more. Although you can’t buy a new weapon, your sword will change appearance each time you level up.
We already discussed the story and some of the excellent level design, but how are the actual gameplay and overall mechanics? To sum up the overall gameplay, you need to continuously find Rubies (found at the end of each level) to pay a ransom to Mr. B. Aside from this, there are various different quests and goals to accomplish throughout your adventure. At one point I had to collect a bunch of berries for a laid-back fox, and other time I had to collect blueprints for a talking toast guy who was enslaved by a tyrant tyrannosaurus rex, and now they’ve created a secret underground group called the Dough Uprising… I swear I am not making this stuff up.
That being said, I found the gameplay to be very rewarding. Whether it was getting that next adorable cosmetic or obtaining the next quest, I found that I was always curious to see what was next.
You will navigate the world by riding on your pet giraffe’s back and traversing 5 distinct maps. In each map, you can find levels, as well as shops, villages, and secrets are hidden about. There are five distinct worlds in total, and each one brings new enemies, mechanics, characters, quests, bosses and more.
One thing I’d like to highlight in this review is the outstanding character design. You can really tell how much love was poured into this game by the devs from just the characters alone. Each individual character and NPC has their own look and attitude. You don’t spend much time with the NPCs, so the fact I became so enamored with them in such a short time really speaks to the overall design. On your adventure, you’ll meet a group of laid-back foxes in a band, a mailman who eats his mail, an adorable insecure whale, toast people, a lazy tyrant t-rex king, a fancy burrito and so many more adorable, lovable and admirable characters.
As the story progresses, you are introduced to more and more game mechanics. The pacing of these mechanics are slow and steady and didn’t overwhelm you. The game gives you enough time to master the last mechanics or obstacle before throwing a new one your way. These mechanics vary from using your giraffe as a grappling hook, shooting yourself out of a toaster, sliding down a wire, guiding a lost flying cat to its cat bed to activate mechanisms like locked doors, using your giraffe’s helicopter tongue to propel you under water and many many more fun mechanics.
This is the type of game that you could play in short bursts, or get lost in for hours. The gameplay starts off simple and quite easy, but as the game progresses the difficulty level becomes increasingly more challenging. It’s not too hard where casual gamers would put the game down, but also not too easy where hardcore gamers would grow bored.
Not once did I experience any bugs or technical problems while playing The Adventure Pals. This was a polished platformer with rewarding combat and tight controls. Overall, I had a ton of fun playing this action-packed cartoony platformer. I loved everything from the upbeat music, the excellent level design, the story, hilarious and lovable characters and fast action-packed gameplay. If you are a fan of platformer games, Behemoth style games or even a lover of cartoons, I’d say give Adventure Pals a shot. At the very least, it might just make you laugh or smile. I know it did that and then some for me.
I give The Adventure Pals 4 out of 5 stars. I’m looking forward to seeing what Massive Monster does next, and I hope all the positive feedback they’ve been receiving about this game encourages them to do that sooner rather than later.
- Cartoony hand-drawn graphics
- Fast action-packed combat
- Wonderful Character Design (Unforgettable characters)
- Fun solo & with a friend in local co-op
- Excellent level design
- Tight Controls
- Unique & incredibly fun game mechanics
- Hilarious & silly story
- Tight & simple controls
- Hoping for a level editor of some kind down the road so fans can have non-stop fun