Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion (Switch) Review
It’s been nine seasons of Adventure Time and with that comes its fair share of video games. Over the last eight years, the franchise has taken on a few different genres and now it has come for Turn based RPGs with Pirates of the Enchiridion. As a big Adventure Time fan, the most unfortunate thing is that the majority of the games have really flumped it up. It’s a shame because the world the characters inhabit and the characters themselves are ripe for a video game. So how does Pirates of the Enchiridion one stack up?
Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion starts off with the main characters; the human boy Finn and his best friend and brother Jake, a magically stretching dog (ok, it’s not that simple, but I don’t have time to go over nine seasons of the show with you now) falling asleep on the top of their treehouse home. When they wake up they find that the Kingdom of Ooo has flooded, and a big conspicuous lack of ice where the Ice Kingdom used to be. Adventure Time will send you all over the flooded land of Ooo to a bunch of notable locations from the series to help restore the land to its former glory. To do this you’ll be spending a lot of time navigating the ocean surrounding the waterlogged kingdoms. At first, it gives off a Legend of Zelda Windwaker vibe as you steer your boat around the hub. That feeling is quickly dashed upon the rocks and sent to a watery grave as the boating sections are pretty dull, slow and unwieldy. The only real distraction between locations is picking up crates with cash and items inside, or the seven times you can fight a ship of pirates.
When you’re on land the game goes into a third-person perspective, following the party around. Each area is the same; smash up objects for cash and items, fight the enemies, and make your way to the objective. Initially, it looks like these areas might be more open, but it really isn’t. Most paths are either related to the objective or an out of the way chest. Around the areas are parts that are only accessible by using a certain party members skills – Jake can carry the group over large gaps, Marceline the Vampire Queen is the only one who can smash open chests, and BMO the little computer is the only one who can open certain gates. In the end, swapping between the members of the group is just tedious time filling, why can’t you just hit a button at the obstacle and the relevant member does their thing?
So let’s get to the turn-based RPG part. Once it loads, it’s not bad. You have the option of a plain attack, defending, special attacks and three of four characters have a special ability too. The group has a shared pool of action points to perform the special attacks with. Should you run low, normal attacks help fill the meter back up again. The special attacks give you element attacks that exploit enemies’ elemental weaknesses with, or just hit more than one enemy at once. Each character also has a meter that builds up, allowing you to unleash powerful attacks. Finn has a gauntlet that fires a laser, Jake turns into a bulldozer, Marceline turns into a werewolf and BMO starts a party. Some of them can be handy in a pinch, but most of the time you can get by easily without them. That’s not to say the combat is a pushover if you take on enemies too much higher than you, then they wipe you out quickly, but if you take on all the enemies you find then you’ll likely never struggle. Over the course of the game, there were enough lootable items around for healing that I never once had to buy anything from the store. There were plenty of other stat boosting, buffing items I had collected but never once needed to use. Now, this isn’t me boasting about how good I am at this game, I’m pretty average so if I can do this well then so can a lot of others. Like the other parts of the game, the battles also could do with some improvement, but the basics are there and the whole elemental strengths/weaknesses works.
Additionally, there’s also Interrogation Time and it’s a mini-game that pops up a few times over the course of the game. Jake stretches out, makes a portable interrogation table and dons a detective outfit. Finn and Jake’s job is to play ‘good cop, bad cop’ with a character to get the truth out of them. It’s hardly LA Noire, before the sequence Jake will tell you what approach you should take. Then you have to stop a spinning wheel on good cop or bad cop for either character until you get the right result. It’s usually an amusing time as you try to get the info you need, flying off the handle at a perp. But you won’t encounter this mini-game often and there is little skill involved. Initially, it was a cool little detour from turn-based fighting and sailing around, but ultimately it’s squandered.
Adventure Time is plagued with issues to a point where I was unsure if the game was going to let me actually progress at some points. From the very start, you are greeted with one of many occasions of the loading screen. When it warns you that it could take a while, it really isn’t kidding. The loading screen can and will show up at any moment in the game, sometimes it would just flicker on the screen when it couldn’t handle everything going on. Then there’s every time a fight starts, you’re left there staring at the fight screen as you can hear what most definitely sounds like the opening 10-15 seconds of the fight already in progress before the visuals show up. Then when you start a fight there’s the worry of whether the game will let you end it. Three times in boss fights I beat the boss and then was left there looking upon my party in the field as the boss lies there knocked out.
The first time I reset it, then the game got stuck on the loading screen to load my save, I was already ropable. Then I took on the boss again and it did the same thing, it wasn’t until the third try the game let me progress, instilling in me the fear that I could have to do this for every boss. While I did have to reset the game after it happened again one more time. It wasn’t just the fear of the game not recognising the battle has ended, forcing me to sit through the company videos at the beginning and go through minutes of loading. It was the real fear that this game could crash at any second. Whenever the game struggled, or the super brief out of nowhere loading screens popped up, I braced myself. A lot of the time it was near misses and the game’s framerate going to hell, but as soon as you let your guard down the game would crash out of nowhere.
Now we’ve gone over the gameplay, I have to mention how Pirates of the Enchiridion serves as a game for Adventure Time fans. Honestly, it’s a mixed bag. The visuals do a great job of capturing the look of Adventure Time. Which you would hope so after games have shown that the 2D animation can translate well into 3D without being a real horror show. The Kingdom of Ooo and the characters inside it all look how they should, and with all the original voice actors they sound how they should, always a nice feature. One thing that surprised me was how up to date with the show the characters were in this game. If you haven’t seen the more recent seasons/episodes, some characters will be entirely unknown. It stands out even more because really there aren’t that many notable characters in the game.
Some are only referenced, some very briefly appear partially because they’re popular characters and if they weren’t there there’s barely anyone else in the game. Due to being a 7-8 hour video game and not a tight 11-minute episode, the energy and humour of the show aren’t the same. There are some moments that show it is still Adventure Time. Whether it’s moments of dialogue or the moments I really liked where Finn and Jake would start singing about their adventure, as you’re sailing around after getting a new objective. It just really felt like a proper Adventure Time thing to do, even though it was often quickly drowned out by the bad sound mixing which then made everything else louder than the singing, quickly killing the moment.
While I have gone through this game with a fine tooth comb, I do get that this game isn’t likely made for the older crowd. While the fanbase for the show spans both young and old, the games generally do not. If the game ran fine then it would be an alright RPG for younger audiences, but the truth is that it is a mess that will frustrate people of all ages.
As the Adventure Time TV series is coming to a close, it is likely there are only so many more opportunities to make games based off it, so the series could really do with a ‘win’. Pirates of the Enchiridion is not one of these games. It is a very average RPG with Adventure Time characters marred by performance and technical issues that sink this ship down to the bottom of the flooded Kingdom of Ooo.
- Up to date references
- Feels like Adventure Time
- RPG part isn’t bad
- Loading times and frequency
- The RPG part isn’t good either