The Internet has really changed the face of tie-in games. Online media quickly became a means to promote shows and movies, with the most common content being simple Flash games inspired by retro classics. The Internet age evolved rapidly, however, and thus so have the games. Cartoon Network have been a front runner of this movement, taking advantage of the app game model to produce titles that can compete with their console and handheld counterparts. Their latest, Adventure Time: I See Ooo, might be their most ambitious yet.
I See Ooo takes advantage of the gyroscope that’s in most smart phones. By purchasing a Jake the Dog-themed cardboard viewer (a nice meta motif, as the game places you in the role of Finn), fans can engage in possibly the most immersive Adventure Time experience. The plot draws from the early status quo, likely to avoid confusing players with too much of the show’s long-term evolving mythos. Jake and Finn are hosting a kicking party which is invaded by the Ice King. The villain’s attack freezes the party goers in blocks of ice and flings them across Ooo, setting Finn on a quest to rescue them. BMO and Princess Bubblegum are the first to be rescued, the latter fashioning a glider for Finn/the player to use to travel.
The gameplay itself is split between two play styles. The first of these involves a 360 degree shooting game, in which you must outlast the Ice King’s penguin hordes in a snowball fight. Some will waddle forward to attack you while others camp and throw snowballs at you. The challenge is to survive the entire wave without losing all your health. The health warnings of the game advise playing sitting down but for the range you’ll need to spin to succeed in these levels, I found it easier to stand up and rotate in place.
Slightly more engaging for me were the glider levels. These use the familiar game design concept of navigating a circuit of rings in mid-air; miss too many and you’ll plummet. Thankfully, unlike the infamously bad Superman 64, these levels are well designed with a great incentive to come back and truly master them, especially when later levels introduce points multipliers that can only be gained by carefully taking a path away from the rings. A similar level of replay challenge exists in the snowball levels, but perhaps due to my roots with Sonic the Hedgehog the glider levels appealed more.
As you proceed through the quest you’ll have the chance to rescue other familiar characters and scavenge treasures which also function as power-ups. Both of these will be displayed in Finn and Jake’s treehouse for players to explore, with an additional room, characters and play style planned as DLC. While the 3D virtual reality is present throughout the game it will particularly hit home for fans visiting this iconic location. Bristol-based Opposable VR have done an incredible job recreating the world and feel of the show, which also includes the familiar voice acting and music. Even something as simple as standing in one of the large scale interactive menus makes you feel like you’ve been transported to Ooo.
The motion controls will be familiar to those who have used an Xbox Kinect but are thankfully far more precise. Navigating menus requires you to look and hold on the relevant button for a few seconds, while in levels the reticle is used more expressively with movement for precision and speed. As said, this really does increase the replayability of the game and stops it from being a VR gimmick novelty. Speaking of which, the included Google Cardboard viewer will of course work with other 360 VR content such as YouTube videos. It should be noted that the viewer must be held up with your hands, rather than mounting it to the user’s face.
Adventure Time: I See Ooo is great fun for fans of all ages. Retailing for £24.99, it’s a nice package that presents a fun and unique game with planned expansion and a reusable Google Cardboard viewer. I’d certainly welcome seeing Cartoon Network and Opposable VR expand this innovation to other shows. Come on, make a Steven Universe game like this so I can hang out with Pearl at the temple!
Adventure Time: I See Ooo is available to purchase in the UK with exclusive themed Google Cardboard viewer from Pyramid Shop and Forbidden Planet. The software by itself is available to purchase at the Google Play Store.