Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion - First look from E3 2018

In the latest Adventure Time game, Pirates of the Enchiridion, Finn and Jake wake up to find The Land of Ooo mysteriously flooded. True to form, everyone in Ooo has taken this as an opportunity to become goofy pirates. As usual, Finn and Jake are in charge of figuring out what's going on and putting a stop to it before things get weirder than they already are. It sounds like the start to a great episode, but until E3 2018, we hadn't seen much of this game that's planned for a July release on Nintendo Switch.

Fortunately, I was lucky enough to watch a live demo of Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion at E3 2018. While the experience is impressive in its translation of show to game, I'm concerned that there isn't enough depth to it to entice anyone beyond die-hard Adventure Time fans.

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Jake and Finn the Pirates

Pirates of the Enchiridion is full of the whimsy and goofball antics that make Adventure Time what it is. Finn, Jake, and all make the transition into 3D very pleasantly, and the world is brightly colored and visually enjoyable. All characters are voice acted by their cartoon actors, lending a level of authenticity, and the show's creators kept a watchful eye over the game's script and gameplay even if they themselves did not directly contribute. The boat you travel around the Land of Ooo in is named "Jeff" as determined by a fan poll, and that alone should tell you to expect an appropriate level of Adventure Timey-humor out of this game.

That humor manifests in more than just the visuals. Healing items all have ridiculous names and descriptions (often as mentioned in the show), and other little dialogue bits color your journey and keep it from being a dull trot from point A to B. While sailing across the ocean that's flooded Ooo, Finn and Jake will break into sea shanties of sorts that will gently inform the player of their next destination, in case they forgot. I heard three different songs within a 15 minute play period, so I'm sure there will be plenty more to keep the Adventure Time spirit of song alive and well in this video game incarnation. It is a pirate game, after all!

Ooo, underwater

While everything looks and sounds lovely in the Land of Ooo, I noticed an unfortunate drawback in the short demo I watched. There didn't seem to be an awful lot to do. Upon awakening and finding their home flooded unexpected, Jake and Finn set off aboard, uh, Jeff, and immediately interrogate the Ice King about his involvement. He quickly sends them to Candy Kingdom in search of his crown, which sounds like a fair bit of distance to travel and even looks like it on the map. But it didn't feel like it in practice. Aside from some rubbish Jake can pull out of the ocean and a whopping two scripted battles, nothing of interest or import happened between the two locations. I didn't see the beginnings of sidequests, points of interest to interact with, or NPCs to talk to, and Candy Kingdom was populated by largely uninteresting people.

As always, my caveat here is that this could have been a limitation of the demo. As I mentioned, there are items Jake can pick up throughout the ocean, and you can also use Jake as a land vehicle when you dock your boat. Those bits look fun, and may evolve into more interesting game mechanics later on. Also, a laidback approach may be intended if the combat is any indication.

Busting out your sword

Pirates of the Enchiridion is a turn-based RPG, though I didn't get far enough to see if the battles are random or all scripted (all encounters I saw were scripted). For the most part, combat is unremarkable, with attacking, defending, and items all occupying spots on the menu where one would expect. You can use items on the same turn that you attack, which is a welcome security if you're not into long-winded battles. There are also special abilities that each character can gain and use as the story progresses. For instance, Finn received a frozen sword from the Ice King and was able to use it in a powerful attack with an element strength against some pirate bananas he encountered.

Like the world exploration, there's nothing especially remarkable about the combat, and I would have liked to see more depth demonstrated for a game launching in less than a month. But maybe if you're just here because you enjoyed the cartoon, a smooth ride through a watery Ooo is all you need.

When can I set sail for adventure?

Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion is planned for a July 17, 2018 launch on Nintendo Switch. It will cost $39.99.

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Guide me on my adventure!

Want to know more about Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion? Let me know in the comments!

Reb Valentine