Wondering about that line in front of The Game Stop in West Hollywood the other night? What's up with all those white hats and blue t-shirts? It's Adventure Time, of course. The popular Cartoon Network series just spawned a new video game.
Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?!!, available for Nintendo 3DS and DS, hit stores Tuesday evening. To celebrate, The Game Stop hosted a bash that included a signing with Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward and game director James Montagna, plus a concert from Jake Kaufman, who composed the music for the game.
There were Finns and Fionas galore inside the Game Stop, plus one pair dressed as Marceline the Vampire Queen and her genderbent counterpart, Marshall Lee. The Flame Princess made an appearance, as did BMO. They had stood in line for at least an hour for a chance to meet Ward, who has become something of a superstar amongst animation fans. He thanked the fans right before the concert and then left quickly, a crowd of fans in the back waving and exclaiming, “Bye, Pen!”
I was unable to find a demo of Hey Ice King! to play, so I can't give you insight into how this latest adventure for Finn and Jake unfolds. It is, as the title implies, a quest to get the garbage that was stolen by the Ice King. Montagna describes it as an “action-adventure with light RPG elements.” He also notes that there are new characters in the game, many of whom came from the pen of Ward.
“Pendleton really likes to communicate through drawings,” says Montagna of working with the cartoon creator. “We'll get a lot of emails from him with drawings of ideas he had. That was always a treat, getting sketches from him.”
WayForward is the studio behind Hey Ice King!, which is definitely a game made for fans by fans. Montagna, who has been with the company since 2007 and previously worked on titles like A Boy and His Blob, Mighty Milky Way and Silent Hill: Book of Memories, has been an Adventure Time devotee since the show's inception. “A bunch of us at WayForward were just crazy Adventure Time fans, so when the opportunity to work on a game came around, we were all freaking out,” he says.
The sort of attention to detail that you can only get from fans does appear in the game. For example, Montagna really digs a little-known character who appears in the episode “Conquest of Cuteness.” (Note: Depending on how hardcore you are about spoilers, this may be one.) “In the show, he's only on screen for a second or two and explodes,” says Montagna. “Because I love him, we put him in the game as a boss.”
Up next: the game music
There were, however, some people involved in the game who weren't that familiar with the show before the project. Composer Jake Kaufman, who has worked with WayForward for the past decade, said he “scrambled” to watch Adventure Time when he got the gig. He was immediately smitten with the show's music. “I fell way in love with it because of all the different influences that they have,” he says. “It's a very mixed bag.”
Kaufman approached the project with a lot of joyfulness. “I just wanted to get into the studio and have a blast,” he says, adding that it only took a few days to do the bulk of the composing. “It's almost like you're designing a flow chart of how the music is going to evolve while you're playing the game,” he says of composing game music.
Altogether, Kaufman crafted 40 pieces for Hey Ice King! and estimates that between 25 and 30 of those nuggets made it into the game. Joining him in the studio were fellow video game composer and singer Tommy Pedrini and popular voice actress/singer Cristina Vee. Pedrini provided vocals and beatboxing for a several tracks. Vee, who recently appeared in the U.S. dub of the hit anime series Puella Magi Madoka Magica, sang on several tunes as well, including Lady Rainicorn's song.
Both Pedrini and Vee were on hand to perform with Kaufman during the concert. They opened with the game's theme song, a variation of the TV theme with lyrics like, “You king of ice/It would suffice/If you'd be nice/But you're a jerk/Probably want to build a girlfriend out of the garbage.”
By the time they got to the end of the song, closing with the lyrics from the TV theme, the whole store was doing a super fan pogo dance, singing along with the trio at the mic. Adventure Time the show is huge and, if last night was any indication, the video game might just follow a similar route.