Developer: Zoink!
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5, iPad 2

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

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

The latest in the series of Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time games, Rock Bandits is at once the most ambitious and most frustrating of all the titles. It tries to do new things and has some creative elements to it that reveal a unique spark to the title, but the actual execution leaves a lot to be desired.

This is a swipe-based platformer, where players swipe to move Finn and Jake around, swiping in the air to jump, hover, cling to walls, and more. Now, attacking is also done by swiping on the screen, a la Fruit Ninja. Enemies occasionally randomly appear and must be swiftly dispatched before they start to attack the player.

Now, the problem is this: players must swipe on Finn to move him about. The game does a poor job at segregating where Finn is and where the enemies are, so it happens all too often that a swipe will send Finn in a sudden direction or will slash on screen when trying to attack an enemy. This is the kind of game where dying makes me want to throw down my iPhone. I don’t, because iPhones aren’t cheap, but the thought goes through my head. It’s a little easier to control on iPad, but many of the same issues remain.

It’s a shame, too – the combat is far more interesting than many button mashers. An early boss fight has players slashing an enemy’s giant nose while dodging other enemies and navigating the ground, and it’s moments like this when the game just works. There are also hidden paths to rescue other characters that are out of the way. Like the rest of the Adventure Time games, don’t expect a hardcore platforming experience, but it’s just ingenious enough to be satisfying. Plus, tons of the B- and C-listers get to make cameo appearances.

The game features a storyline written by Ryan North (of Dinosaur Comics fame), who does the Adventure Time comic series. This manifests itself in comic scenes that appear throughout the game. The story is quite funny and ties in loosely with what the comics are doing. It’s very representative of his work on the comics – it fits in with the overall tone of the series, respecting its origins, while having its own distinct weirdness and whimsy. Fans of Adventure Time need to load up Comixology or go to a comic store and check out the series, and the story segments will serve as a good catalyst to do so. They’re the best reason to keep playing.

There’s a lot to like about Rock Bandits on a conceptual level, but the actual execution of said concept is just disappointing. This one’s only for the die-hard fans.

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