The Switch eShop is no stranger to solid platforming experiences, even at this early point in its life cycle. You can find 2D platformers that range from pretty simple experiences to expertly crafted gems. We all know the joy that is Super Mario Odyssey. It’s becoming hard to stand out amongst the crowd. Developer Massive Monster has tried to do just that by crafting a truly unique visual experience built on top of a co-op platformer in the form of The Adventure Pals.
The Adventure Pals is a 2D side-scrolling platformer that tasks you, as a young boy carrying a giraffe in a backpack, to stop a villain, Mr. B, from turning all of the people in the world into hot dogs. He’s truly an evil genius. There are five different worlds that you can explore using your trusty wooden sword to fight monsters and your backpack giraffe to reach inaccessible places and flip switches to open doors to new areas.
The game is truly a joy to behold. It feels to me, visually and conceptually, like a combination of properties like Adventure Time and The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack. Visually there’s no denying the influences of a show like Adventure Time. The game is oozing charm, weirdness, childlike wonder, and humor all at the same time. All of the characters looks ripped right of the screen of children’s cartoons. They’ve vibrant, full of color and all have interesting personality quirks or visual styles of their own.
The platforming itself is pretty standard. There’s nothing really new about the game play that makes it stand out. Each world is broken up into separate hubs that will add new levels as you finish levels in the game. The levels themselves aren’t terribly long and the puzzle solving is pretty simple, mostly down to flipping a switch that opens up a door that is usually on the same screen you’re on. The giraffe in your backpack acts like a sort of double jump where it spins its tongue around like a helicopter allowing you to glide slightly over large gaps. You also have a rock that you can throw at switches which are otherwise inaccessible. This does allow from some interesting puzzle design. There are a number of hidden collectibles to find scattered throughout each level such as jewels or cupcakes. Finding all of the collectibles will give you bonuses as you play through the game.
As far as fighting abilities you have a sword and that’s about it. Each enemy has a specific pattern or way they attack that if learned can help make it easier to fight them, but most enemies can simply be dispatched with a simple swipe of the sword. You have some secondary abilities, such as bombs or health potions that you can use to aid you along the way. Defeating enemies earns you experience points that can be used to level up your character giving you more health, better strength, etc. As you go along you’ll find yourself being able to handle combat more easily. This gives the game the feel of a light RPG, but mostly it’s just platforming.
There is also a co-op element to the game allowing a friend to come along the journey. The second player essentially plays a clone of you and there is no split screen at all. The camera will simply follow the character that’s progressing through what the game considers to be the correct way. If one character would scroll off the screen they’re teleported to the other player. It works pretty well. Neither player really gets in the way of the other and having someone with you makes handling combat a little easier. However, there are some times where you’re trying to solve a puzzle and one character gets teleported when they’re not expecting it. Once this caused us to have to restart a level as we were trapped with no way to open doors that were locked. Luckily this only happened to us the one time in our play through.
It’s not a perfect game. It’s not even a terribly difficult game, but I found the experience from start to finish incredibly enjoyable. The character’s charm leapt off the TV screen. There are some genuinely funny moments with characters that had me and my children laughing. The whole idea of carrying around a giraffe in your backpack that spins its tongue around like a helicopter to help you traverse is insane, but somehow it doesn’t feel wrong in the world of The Adventure Pals. It’s simply a fun, charming platforming experience from beginning to end. Kids will laugh at all the adorable characters. You can play the game alone, but its best experience with a friend or a child to laugh along with you.
Review copy of the game provided by Armor Games
Played through the full story
Total Play Time: 12 hours