Taking inspiration from cartoons and classic platformers, The Adventure Pals irrefutably combines both of these enjoyable genres into a singular entity that is not only delightful, but fun to play. The side-scrolling adventure features local cooperative play but isn’t required. In fact, I played through the over 100 levels in the game solo first, before adding a second player to join my lovable giraffe and me. This indie title that was funded on Kickstarter back in 2016 provides constant humor and a truly memorable experience, with satisfying combat, enjoyable jumping mechanics and sweet tasting hidden collectible cupcakes.
Although not necessary, The Adventure Pals does have a narrative involving your father being kidnapped on your birthday by the nefarious Mr.B. Not only that, but he has plans to turn him and others into angry, aggressive hot dogs. Luckily for you, you receive your birthday giraffe Sparklers, assisting you traversing the overworld and by using his helicopter tongue to glide to new heights. Don’t forget your adorable pet rock, which you can sling to activate switches and even use to hit enemies. It is a ridiculous and bizarre premise.
If you are playing two-player co-op, the second player is a replica of the main protagonist with a palette swap. Sadly it doesn’t appear to add anything new to the narrative. They merely exist to help and aren’t even able to customize themselves or interact with the NPCs or shops.
Each of the five uniquely themed worlds are broken up by various stages, with each one being comprised of five levels. One moment you are launching exploding blobs at woodland creatures, the next you are battling dinosaurs and hot dogs that poop exploding mines. New stages are unlocked as you converse with other characters, opening up quests in the process. It’s nothing complicated, and mostly involves you defeating a particular enemy or collecting a set amount of items throughout a level. The reasoning behind some of the requested items, such as a massive whale wanting a speedo is quite humorous. Every level has one hidden cupcake, which can be used to collect cosmetic customization options for yourself or your pet rock. Nothing says style like a pizza slice outfit for your buddy and a red fez for the top of your head. There is a sticker book to complete, either by finding the one hidden sticker in each stage or by purchasing them from the shop.
Progressing through the stages your character’s abilities evolve, starting from a simple wooden sword, to completing combos, chain attacks, and more. Potions and bombs are two of the items you find during the tutorial, but soon enough your arsenal includes invincibility items, sticky bombs, and even sunshine bombs. I won’t spoil what the last one entails, but I certainly got a kick out of using it. Once you level up by defeating enough cutesy creatures or by completing quests, you’ll have a selection of three upgrades. I focused on upgrading my attacks, health, and learning the ability to launch yourself at enemies to continue your combo.
Although the platforming is the primary focus of the game, I found the combat strangely rewarding and satisfying. You aren’t able to choose your weapon, but your sword does change visually everytime you level up. Many of the smaller enemies die in one or two hits, but some of the enormous brutes require you to dodge attacks before attempting to finish them off. When trapped in an area with multiple larger than life characters, things can become quite frantic as you try to dodge attacks. Thankfully, potions can revive you without any player interaction, granted you still have one to use.
It has been quite some time since I have enjoyed a platformer as much as I have with The Adventure Pals. The zany premise, characters, and colorful cartoon visuals certainly put a smile on my face. Video games are all about having fun, and The Adventure Pals is simply a fun game to play. You earn additional items and upgrade your character as you progress through the 105 different levels in the game. Don’t forget to feed the cupcake king and collect wacky customization options. The co-op mechanics is somewhat lackluster, and I would have liked to see that implemented better so that both players and grow their characters.Note: The Adventure Pals was reviewed on Xbox One. A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher/developer.