Browsing the recent release lineup for a co-op game to play together, my wife and I happened upon The Adventure Pals. The promotional art and trailer featured a boy riding on a cute cartoon giraffe (my wife’s favorite animal), so of course we had to check it out. Did we make the right call by picking out a game based on aesthetics alone? Some thoughts:
Adventure Pals is a 2D platformer with RPG elements about a boy and his pet giraffe set in a wacky cartoon world. While the boy has fairly standard moves (jumping, wall kicking, and sword swiping), the giraffe gives him the ability to swing from grapple points, fly by spinning the giraffe’s tongue like a helicopter rotor (yes, you read that right), and quickly swim underwater (I had no idea giraffes are amphibious). When playing in co-op mode, the second player controls a set of characters equivalent to the first player’s (i.e. a girl with a very giraffe-like unicorn pal). Each player also has a pet rock that gathers items for them and protects them from spikes).
- When it comes to visuals, The Adventure Pals has charm and personality in spades. The goofy but cute look may be reminiscent of Adventure Time, but each of this game’s characters and enemies have a fun and unique design all of their own. The world design also looks fresh off a Saturday morning cartoon.
- To complement the wacky visuals, there is equally bizarre and humorous writing and scenarios. Throughout the adventure, the titular pals reunite a farmer with his pig (that is also his wife), rescue elderly people that have been turned into hotdogs, and intervene in a conflict between dinosaurs and sentient pieces of toast. Seeing what weird thing would happen next was definitely part of the fun.
- The Adventure Pals controls very well. It doesn’t take long to get the hang of the characters movesets. After a level or two, my wife and I were comboing up jumps, wall kicks, grappling, and ziplining to fling our characters around the map with ease. In general, platforming just felt good. Most combat can be gotten through just by mashing the sword swipe button, which is totally fine for this type of game.
- Everything explodes. You may have noticed in some of my previous reviews (e.g. Just Cause 2), I like a game that lets you blow things up. The Adventure Pals delivers with exploding enemies and explosive barrels that can be launched into groups of enemies. Setting up chain reactions to take out enemy mobs instead of fighting them head on was very satisfying.
- While getting from point A to point B in a given level is often straightforward, finding the optional collectables (i.e. cupcakes and stickers) provides an opportunity to really explore every little nook and cranny. Many of the levels seem simple at first but their intricacies become apparent if you take the time to find everything.
- Collecting the cupcakes unlocks new hats for your human character and costumes for the pet rock. These ran the gamut of cute, funny, and weird. This was more than enough justification to scour each level thoroughly.
- During our adventure, we ran into a few glitches that caused us to have to restart a level or deliberately kill our characters to reset a stage. For example, in one instance we locked our characters inside a room and in another case, clearing an area of enemies was supposed to trigger an event but nothing happened. These issues were infrequent enough to have minimal impact on our experience but were still a little jarring.
- With all the chaos and explosions on screen, it can sometimes be hard to keep track your character’s location, especially with two players. Many of our combat deaths could be attributed to losing our characters on screen, or confusing one player’s character for the other.
- Even though this is a 2D game, it seemed to put strain on the Nintendo Switch in some of the later stages resulting in frame rate drops and lag. There were only a few areas in the whole campaign where this came up, but it’s a shame that it was an issue at all. I’m not sure if this issue is Switch-specific or comes up on other versions of the game as well.
Overall, The Adventure Pals is a satisfying co-op 2D platforming experience that sets itself apart with quirky appeal. While I didn’t try it single-player, it may be a little too simplistic to play solo, but for those who have a partner and love cute cartoon creatures, The Adventure Pals comes highly recommended.
Completion Time: About 10 hours (100% completion)
Adventure Pals is available on Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox One, and PS4. If you’d like to listen to the game’s sound track while also supporting this blog, check it out on Amazon Music using the following affiliate link: Adventure Pals Soundtrack