Long Loading Times with Finn and Jake
Developer: Climax Studios
Publisher: Outright Games
Genre: Cartoon Action Adventure
Type: Single Player
Release date: July 17th, 2018
Ah, Adventure Time. It’s one of the best Cartoon Network shows out there and it’s a shame they almost never air it anymore. From the moment it debuted I was in love with it and I will always hold it close to my heart. Now that it’s ending pretty soon I’m sad to see it go, but at the same time glad that it won’t be continuing forever. After all, every show has to end at some point. Color me surprised when I heard that a new Adventure Time game was in development! With my love of Adventure Time hitching a ride, can Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion shake off the notion that games based on shows are horrible?
After falling asleep stargazing, Finn and Jake wake up to the Land of Ooo being submerged under water. With just one look through their telescope, everything points to the Ice Kingdom melting. However, it’s not as simple as telling Ice King to freeze everything back. It’s not so much the Ice King, but his crown is now missing, malfunctioning, and melting ice rather than freezing it. It’s up to Finn and Jake to figure out what happened and turn everything back to normal before it’s too late.
Using a boat that was abandoned right by their house, you will join Finn and Jake as they sail to the different areas in Ooo. Wind Waker automatically comes to mind with how the sailing works within the game and I just wish that there was more music to go along with it. You’ll mostly be sailing in silence till a pirate themed song randomly comes up for a couple minutes. Occasionally, Finn and Jake will sing pirate shanties, but even that makes me want more. You have Marceline, Princess Bubblegum (for a short time on your ship, but still), and BMO right there! Get them to join in or give them their own pirate shanties to lead the others in! You can even just bounce banter around the characters in between the main story quests. Other than that, you’ll come across floating boxes and barrels floating in the water that Jake can pick up for coins. Once you get Marceline you can use a cannon and BMO has a navigation system as well. However, there’s no mini map that you can look at and the compass can be useless if you’re not doing the story. Despite being able to activate side quests, a way point is never added to the compass like it is for story quests. This can easily lead you to constantly open your map (depending on where you are), which in turn will stop the boat completely.
On land, each character has their uses as well: Finn can easily explodamize destructibles which can give you coins or items and use lookouts to see where all the chests are; Jake can get your team up high places (or get you across platforms that are too far away) and turn into a scooter to get to places faster; Marceline can open chests with her axe bass and turn invisible to sneak around enemies; and BMO can override locked gates. I do wish that Jake’s scooter form was a more gradual rather than suddenly stopping and starting. That would make it slightly easier to control, especially in tight spaces.
There’s also some instances where you enter Interrogation Mode, where you obviously interrogate a character for information. You don’t pick what Finn or Jake says, or whether they play as a good or bad cop. You just have to figure out what will get them closer to spilling the information they know. However, you do have to land on the right character as it spins faster the further you get into it.
As you explore, whether it be land or sea, enemies will stand in your way and you’ll dive right into turn-based combat once they get sight of you. Everyone has a basic attack and a couple of abilities at their disposal. Every enemy has their own weaknesses and status effects that they’re immune to and once you have BMO, you can use him to check. Some of the status effects you and your enemies can get are freezing, flumped (which doesn’t let you defend and your defense is lowered) and overheat. To even use these abilities, you need enough energy which is shared between all characters. The energy bar charges up with each regular attack turn and once you get BMO, he can actually use his turn to charge it. As you level up, these abilities will get a stronger version, but will cost more energy to use. To unlock other abilities, you are rewarded by searching for them on different islands, but you can get by with the ones you naturally come across. With each turn you can also use items (the usual healing, buffs, debuffs, and cures) which don’t take the whole turn. As long as you use an item first, you can easily attack in the same turn.
On top of this, each character has their own super meter that will fill up depending on the character. Finn’s will fill up each time he attacks, Jake’s will when he takes damage, Marceline’s when she does the finishing blow, and BMO when he uses an item. Once filled up, you can choose when to use it and the character will do a lot of damage (apart from BMO who heals and buffs everyone).
The battles are fairly easy to get through and the only status effect that is really a threat is overheat since it does a ton of damage. The most you’ll have trouble with is if you get into a battle with higher level enemies as you won’t have the health or damage output to keep up.
Regarding leveling up, rather than using points to invest in you use coins. I find this really weird considering that nothing is naturally risen other than the max health or damage you can have. There are a lot of coins that you can pick up, but they are also used to buy stuff from Choose Goose’s store. It’s just… a weird implementation of an upgrade system that I’ve seen so far.
As you’re playing through the main story, you’ll also be given side quests to do. However, these are the same throughout and essentially boil down to killing, collecting, or fetching something. Most of the side quests are designed to make you take a while to complete. One quest, for example, will have you finding Candy Kids hidden around Ooo and returned to the Candy Kingdom. However, you will have to make trips to drop them off since the boat can’t hold many passengers. Apart from a couple that I finished during my playthrough, I didn’t find any reason to go back and complete the rest of them. It would have just given coins and items, which I didn’t really need.
To my surprise, Pirates of the Enchiridion is a total mess on the Switch. The most obvious issue is the long loading times that will have you wait between a minute or two before you can continue. This doesn’t only happen with the standard screen, but also with the battle loading screens in which you can clearly hear the battle starting before it even shows you. While we’re on battles, it’s pretty inconsistent when you get into one. At one point it’s based on whether you’re right on top of one another (where it’s easy to assume the enemy attacked you first) or when they just look at you. In fact, you hitting them sometimes won’t start the battle. I also only ran into a battle screen that said something like “First Hit” once and I couldn’t recreate that again despite being the one that hit them behind their backs (I even hit a ship from a good ways away and it didn’t trigger). I ran into another bug during the last boss battle that slowly pushed Finn to the side, causing most of his battle menu to be unviewable. While sailing, I also ran into framerate drops, which I saw were due to the game trying to load an area in. If the game couldn’t handle it, it would bring back the loading screen. Despite this, I had instances where something wouldn’t be loaded. One is that the steam geysers which blocks the many entrances to the Fire Kingdom won’t pop in till you’re close enough to think it’s an entrance (or exit). The other big issue I ran into was with Finn and Jake’s house and the iceberg by it (for a side quest). It didn’t pop in until I ran into an invisible house that, upon backing up, popped right back in.
The worst offending bug took place a day after I purchased it. On my first day of having the game, I stopped right before getting to Princess Bubblegum before turning it off and going to bed. When I went back to it the next morning, loading up my save file seemed to be taking longer than expected. A few minutes turned into 20 minutes before I finally decided to restart the game just in case it crashed behind the scenes. I found myself restarting it three more times in 20 minute increments before I just gave up and started a whole new game. I don’t know what happened, but I’m guessing the save file somehow got corrupted. I hit the low possibility in which a save file will load really slowly (even though I wasn’t that far into the game), or it was indeed crashing each time. Thank goodness I wasn’t too far in, but either way my trust in it plummeted. Funny enough, it also started crashing on me. It crashed a total of four times, three of which I didn’t run into originally: it crashed unexpectedly while running through the Candy Kingdom to get one of the side quests; trying to sail into the Evil Forest; when I quit the game and was on the loading screen to get back to the main menu, and lastly when sailing from Matchbook Island to the Fire Kingdom (sadly enough, right before the crash it actually had a loading screen that was only a few seconds). I had the game lock up one me once and it was when I was trying to use BMO’s special ability to uncover an enemy’s weakness. You can imagine my surprise when the game actually loaded up my save file after crashing. Checking on he problems others people had online, I luckily didn’t run into the bug that causes the game to not recognize that all the enemies are defeated (especially after a boss battle). Whew.
I’m not sure how bad it is on other platforms, but I’ve heard a mix up of it not being better (or slightly better) or being way better than the Switch version. Either way, heed my warning and don’t get it for the Switch. I already beat myself up over for not looking up how the game’s performance was before buying it and I don’t want you to. If there is any silver lining to this though, it would be the adorable book the physical release comes with. Each physical edition comes with (Captain) Finn’s Notebook that is basically his notes on what happens throughout the game.
Pirates of the Enchiridion is written well, and those who like the humor of Adventure Time will feel right at home here. The original voice actors also lend their voices for this game and they couldn’t have done a better job. The only thing that does falter is that the comedic timing is a little off, which can make scenes feel too slow as you wait for the models to catch up. This is a small issue, but the voice volumes also seem to fluctuate between really soft (side quest characters) to loud (Interrogation Mode) with everything else being in between (though at one point the music overpowered the characters while sailing). The game’s art style also stays true to the show and I adored it throughout. However, I would add more expressions to Finn since his lack of expression is very noticeable considering he smiles for almost everything throughout. I’m also a little disappointed that they didn’t all go with the pirate theme. I really liked the pirate outfits we got to see and was disappointed that it stopped once you’re done interacting with the Candy Kingdom residents. One of the characters I was actually looking forward to seeing in pirate gear was Flame Princess.
Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion is just a decent game that is really brought down by the poor performance and bugs. It definitely needed more time to polish everything and honestly if it wasn’t for it being an Adventure Time game, I wouldn’t have stuck with it. If you’re a fan of Adventure Time and can ignore the possible bugs and performance issues, this is the perfect game for you. Otherwise, you won’t find anything challenging here, many areas where you can dock your boat and explore, or meaningful side quests. Just don’t buy it on the Switch and if you can wait, buy it when it’s discounted.