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CONSOLE: PlayStation 3 DEVELOPER: WayForward Technologies PUBLISHER: Little Orbit
RELEASE DATE (NA): November 18, 2014 GENRE: Action/Adventure
// review by SoyBomb

This game isn't nameless. You've heard of it before.

A while back, I played Adventure Time: Explore The Dungeon Because I Don't Know!, a dungeon crawler that, while decent in concept, ended being a horrible experience because of how many times the game crashed my PlayStation 3. So in approaching the next game, Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom, I was extremely weary. Was this one going to be even worse and make my console spontaneously catch fire every time I hit a loading screen? Will Finn leap out of the screen and give me a hoofing in the groin? Luckily, my PlayStation 3 was neither bricked nor immolated. Even more luckily, the game turned out to be pretty fun.

But here's the thing: this isn't an original game. No, it's really just trying to emulate something else with utmost transparency.

So Finn starts out asleep after being sent to the Nameless Kingdom to rescue princesses (pretty standard hero stuff), when he suddenly hears a voice calling him. It's Jake, but...there's no Jake around. Instead, he gets up and heads to the castle up north. But he can't enter, so he has to sneak around the side, remove a bush covering a secret entryway, and drop himself in. Does this sound at all like the introduction to any other popular game?

No? Well, once Finn realizes the power of his sword, he can slash bushes to his heart's content. He can use flying fairies to restore his health meter, which consists of three hearts in the top left corner of the HUD. Finn eventually also discovers that the voice of Jake was actually coming from his pocket, and now he can use Jake as a shield. Later, he can also use Jake to swing around in a circle and grab items (like a butterfly net). He has to rescue three captured princesses/maidens, and he explores dungeons to find them. Inside the dungeons, he must find keys to unlock doors, a map to see where you're going, a pencil to mark the boss' lair, and a larger key to open the boss room. The first boss is six bulky armored knights that hop around in a circular pattern. The first major item he discovers is a boomerang. He finds money after slicing through enemies or bushes, as well as receiving gifts from happy-go-lucky randoms, that can be exchanged at merchants inside houses for other useful goods. He grabs items from chests and holds them in the air on display. The entire game is a top-down perspective.

The secret of the Nameless Kingdom is that it's actually Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past with an Adventure Time reskin. The inspiration is so thick, you could cut it with Link's sword.

I was here back in 1992.

There's no shame here. You're playing A Link to the Past. Mind you, that's a quality game, but this is so derivative that I'm surprised Nintendo hasn't somehow dished out one of their cease and desist letters from their lawyer's fat-walleted bottoms. And that's possibly the game's biggest simultaneous asset and flaw. Yes, the game is pretty sound, even fun at times. There's nothing inherently wrong with the game; it didn't even hardlock my console, for which I will give WayForward a little credit. But by the same token, they put very little effort into actually concocting an Adventure Time adventure, instead yanking what already worked almost two decades earlier and calling it a day. It's literally a case of "been there, done that". At least Link to the Past gave you a better sense of direction on where to go next; this game just hopes you either remember or luckily stumble upon everything you need. As well, the dungeons plod on much longer than they should, making their exploration more of a drudgery than a dream. At least the game looks good. Nothing taxing on the console, or even remotely pushing the limits of what a PlayStation 3 is capable of handling, but it reflects the cartoon's unapologetic simplicity admirably enough. (It's also available on the 3DS and PS Vita handhelds, and even those little devices wouldn't break a sweat.) The entire game is a top-down perspective, similar to Zelda (whoa!), so everything you need to see is pretty visible and clear. There were a few minor graphical glitches, notably some assets being slow to load when I'm already in the environment. (Suddenly, a tree appears! It's magical!)

As for the voice acting, there isn't quite as much dialogue as I expected, save for the standard yammering tutorial blather at the beginning. But I feel as though the cast really didn't have their hearts in this project. I had to research whether that was actually John DiMaggio doing the voice of Jake because it was so lackluster in the game's introduction dungeon, I assumed they hired a bad soundalike. No, it's him. They just recorded his lines on a coffee break or something because he is not interested in this. Meanwhile, the music is decent, if nothing spectacular. You do have a mild sense of empowerment stomping through the grassy plains of the Nameless Kingdom while enjoying the stringed anthems of travel.

Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom sounds fine, looks alright, and controls just fine. And it should, because Nintendo made it first. WayForward? More like WayBackward to find ideas.

Dialogue like this makes Shakespeare look like a Rob Schneider/David Spade comedy.

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