Developer: Heavy Boat
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPod touch 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

What time is it? Time for another Adventure Time game, because who doesn’t love Adventure Time? Nobody I want to talk to, that’s who. In Jumping Finn Turbo, the goal is to rescue Princess Bubblegum from the Ice King who’s kidnapped her. That is not the way to a woman’s heart, Simon. Now our intrepid boy-and-dog duo Finn and Jake have decided that the most efficient way to rescue her is by Jake kicking Finn really hard into the air, until he reaches the destination.

This is the wrong approach, because Finn keeps hitting the ground face-first. Repeatedly. But failure is the cornerstone of any game, as without failure there can be no true success, so we all keep failing until success is achieved. Players try to time the initial kick so that Finn gets launched at maximum power, then have Jake kick him in the air periodically, and can bounce him once if he’s about to hit the ground. Along the way, other characters from the show can help Finn fly further – Marceline can thwack him with her axe bass to send him flying faster, or he can fly higher on Lady Rainicorn. All these powerups can be upgraded to make Finn fly farther and eventually win. Emphasis on eventually.

The format’s key flaw is that randomness plays such a role in success. This is especially true on the initial launch, because it’s the best opportunity to actually be sent flying upward, instead of just forward. So hitting a bunch of allies on the ascent tends to be the secret to flying far, as much as skilled timing of the kicks and tapping to remove the penguins does. The player is there to provide agency, pretty much. I still found myself captivated by the goal, and satisfied whenever I got a long kick in. It’s just that eventually it feels like I’m along for the ride, rather than being the determining factor in success and failure, or at least in varying degrees of failure.

Now, was this captivation because I just am a fan of the show? If it had original characters, would I not care so much? Probably not. Such is the peril of licensed games: how much can they truly be enjojyed beyond just their licenses? And is familiarity really a bad thing if it entertains people? Hmm. At least the game completely skips in-app purchases and features widescreen support, but the lack of Game Center support is disappointing. Perhaps a leaderboard for how many games it takes to win?

So, while I’m still somewhat conflicted about this game, I still actually enjoyed it quite a bit, though there is a flawed concept here. This is probably best for the kids, though I’m probably going to go kick Finn again. I’ll see myself out.

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