When I was younger I played with a lot of action figures. Super heroes, video game characters, and movie protagonists littered my toy boxes — plastic representations of my favorite fictional avatars. They would often fight one another, creating my own version of Super Smash Bros. This required a bit of improvisation and creativity as I repurposed my surroundings. Now, this playtime can be done in VR. Adventure Time: Magic Man’s Head Games is played from a high, almost top-down point of view and it feels a little like playing with action figures.
In traditional third-person action-adventure platformer games, the camera is mostly static. If you’ve ever played anything like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Mario 64 or a host of other third-person adventures, you spend a lot of time looking at your characters running in front of you as the camera pans and swivels around to give the best view of the action. That’s where Adventure Time differs because you are the camera. You view the world from the perspective of an enlarged Tiny, the friend of main characters Finn and Jake. From Tiny’s view overlooking the world, you not only see around the entire environment while you’re playing but you can also turn around and look in other directions as well.
If you’ve played either of the Herobound games, it’s similar in concept but executed on a much larger scale. You’re not limited to restrictively small rooms in dungeons, but are instead exploring vast and open areas full of platforming challenges and enemies. The game is based on the popular Cartoon Network TV show and the team responsible for the VR version of Adventure Time, Turbo Button, have done a wonderful job framing each area in a way that really allows freedom and embraces the scale of the world.
The only gripe I have about Adventure Time is that it’s incredibly short. After only about 90 minutes, I had seen everything and collected every item. It felt a bit short for $5, but given the lack of options available in this genre, it’s worth every penny and worth playing to see how well they’ve captured the experience. Given the short length, they’ve done a great job making each and every one of your abilities feel unique and special. From the ground-smash, to the gliding power, and the grappling mechanic, everything fits thematically and is fun to use.
Turbo Button told UploadVR they don’t have anything new to share about Adventure Time, but hopefully that doesn’t mean they’re closing the door to the possibility of updating or expanding the game further.
I was always skeptical of 3D platformers in VR because I never felt like the genre gained any significant benefits from having VR support. The controls are essentially the same and your head movement replaces the right analog stick. Conceptually that doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal. But in practice, when combined with clever uses of 3D-effects and large environments for you to explore, things start to open up a lot.
Adventure Time isn’t difficult and doesn’t feature any big puzzles that stretch across entire levels, but it’s a great starting template for the genre’s voyage into VR territory. Turbo Button said it expects some announcements in early this year about what they’re working on next. If it’s half as fun as Adventure Time, I’m already interested.