by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Wilton loves his Papa and Mama, and on his birthday, is given the strange gift of a pet giraffe. Not sure how the RSPCA would feel about that. But on that same celebratory day his Papa is kidnapped by an evil man known as Mr.B. This evil man with a goldfish-bowl hat, gives Wilton the ultimatum of collecting rubies in order to release his beloved relative and prevent him from being turned into a hotdog. So, Wilton, accompanied by his pet giraffe Sparkles, sets out on the quest to collect the red jewels in order to prevent the evil Mr.B from completing his plans and save the locals from being turned into human-sized walking hotdogs.
The Adventure Pals is primarily a fun platforming game, but a platforming game with an RPG twist. Wilton travels across the game world with Sparkles and visits several locations on each world. Each location contains one of the vital rubies but will take Wilton through five levels in each location to reach the valuable gem.
The platforming levels never feel overly difficult, which means that younger gamers can play without too much hassle. Upon death, characters respawn almost immediately (spending a small amount of coins). If players realise they are about to die, they can heal themselves with a magical potion that restores their health. This magical juice can be collected within the levels or purchased from one of the numerous stores throughout the game world.
The RPG twist comes into the game as you defeat enemies. After killing off foes, they drop little blue orbs, that give XP when collected. And, as with RPGís, gaining a certain amount of XP will allow the character to level up. Upon levelling up, our hero is offered the choice of three boosts. Most of these boosts are of the passive variety, granting the ability to gain more loot from defeated enemies, gaining a larger backpack, or allowing faster collection of the blue orbs.
Combat and controls feel beautifully balanced, and for the most part, if my character died, is was due to my own incompetence rather than anything to do with the control scheme. The range of enemy types, which are introduced gradually over the various different themed lands, keep the combat fresh, as you work out the best way to defeat them. The Adventure Pals contains a host of standard platforming moves, including wall-jumping, double jumps and adds the giraffe swing (a move where Sparkles stretches his neck to reach a point and then swings Wilton across a chasm) to the repertoire.
Playing on your own is fun, but the enjoyment ramps up when a friend joins the fray in local co-op. When playing with a friend, Wilton is joined by a unicorn-riding accomplice and together, they leap and fight their way through the levels. It appears that the difficulty does not increase when multiple players enter the fray, and as such makes the game a tad easy for experienced platform gamers. But the difficulty works well for the younger brigade.
Apart from being a little on the easy side, it is actually hard to find a major flaw in the game. The main issue I had with the game is regarding a number of respawn points. On more than once occasion, I was impaled by a spike whilst riding or jumping from a moving platform only to respawn on the platform as it was touching the spike. This caused my respawn character to immediately die and respawn again in the exact same deadly position. The game does allow you to return to the game map though, which then allows a restart of the level. Levels arenít overly lengthy, so replaying one or two due to these respawn points isnít too draining.
The Adventure Pals contains heaps of silly humour that reminds me of the similarly named Adventure Time cartoon. Indeed, the game has a similar visual style and feel, with our protagonist having a close relationship with an animal companion (in this case, the giraffe known as Sparkles, as opposed to Jake the Dog in the cartoon). The Adventure Pals has a charm all of its own though, and has a story that is full of humorous dialogue and numerous references to a range of pop culture that had me chuckling to myself at various stages. Pirate mayors, bikini-clad whales and evil goldfish all give the game a hilarious tone.
The game offers a range of collectibles, that in essence add to the replay factor. Cupcakes found scattered around the platform levels can be used in a barter system with a particularly overweight cat. Collecting these cupcakes will allow the purchase of costumes for our heroes. Upon giving five cupcakes to this cupcake gorging Cat, he will squeeze out an egg which contains the collectible costume. It is a rather weird Kinder Surprise gift, but at least no two are alike. Unlike the level-up bonuses, these costumes do not affect the gameplay at all. Stickers can also be collected to fill Wiltonís sticker book.
The Adventure Pals may be a little on the easy side for the most part, but the boss battles add a degree of difficulty to the game. They are fun and rewarding when completed and I must admit that the final boss took me a couple of attempts. The humour of the story and the colourful nature of the cartoon visuals make it a game that suits all ages. And combined with the simple, smooth controls and some easy puzzles, The Adventure Pals is a game that I wholeheartedly recommend for the whole family.
Fun, simple platforming, hilarious story and dialogue
The occasional bad spawn point can cause some grief