Perhaps someone finally saw the potential in exploring a creatively quirky land to solve mysteries of fantastical and goofy natures. Perhaps they just looked at the title of the series and saw it had "Adventure" in it. Either way, Adventure Time: Finn & Jake Investigations seeks to marry the "point-and-clickish" style adventure genre with a largely beloved cartoon world.
The game is set across five parts molded around the concept of playable "graybles." In the series, graybles are short tales told by Cuber, an observer from space. Each set shares a common theme that the viewer is asked to guess, the answer usually being not-so-obvious. The same is asked of the player in Finn & Jake Investigations, making for a great setup that ties the game together and feels much like an episode of the show.
The graybles in this case mainly take the form of mysteries Jake and Finn set out to solve as their parents once had in the past. The majority of the time this takes the form of making a way through areas by talking with locals, finding items, and using them in ways that help others and/or open the path forward. It's pretty standard adventure stuff, and for the most part it doesn't prove too vexing. Answers to problems are often found nearby and there aren't many red herrings to deal with. Sometimes, the needed items will already have been collected before their puzzle presents itself, and a little experimentation is usually all that's needed to figure out even the stranger solutions.
While there is an actual "investigation" element to Finn & Jake Investigations, don't expect anything on a Phoenix Wright level of brain burning. Once all evidence is collected the game is happy to hold your hand through explaining what it all means. It definitely leans toward accessibility for a younger audience, though, so it's nice to have something set at a level that can be widely understandable.
One gameplay aspect that's not-so-well simplified, however, is the combat sections that pop up during the course of a case. These involve one-button sword swinging against repetitive waves of enemies, although raising a high-enough combo will allow one of four Jake & Finn team attacks, including a catapult and the Jake Suit. While these can initially be fun, they're not enough to save combat sections from growing dull and feeling tacked on. At least they're over relatively quickly.
Adventure Time fans will be happy to know that the game is chock full of familiar characters all voiced by their original actors, including John DiMaggio as Jake and series creator Pendleton Ward giving his all as Lumpy Space Princess. While an intimate knowledge of the characters and show may help with some references, it doesn't feel entirely necessary to make it through the game. This humble reviewer has only seen a smattering of episodes and felt just fine possessing only a workable knowledge of main characters.
One feature that might be more divisive among fans is the visual presentation. The game tries to blend the look of the show with a 3D setup, leading to a colourful but still sometimes odd-feeling display. While not horrible to look at by any means, there's still the sense that more polish could have gone into the build, especially with a few out-of-place textures and some canned animations when talking with characters. It's still definitely Ooo, though, with classic locales backed by the easy, low-key soundtrack the show is known for. The graphics on the Wii U are also sharper and more detailed than on the 3DS version, as might be expected.
Controls are set up for easy button use. Standing next to an interactive object will bring up an on-screen menu of options, each always assigned to the same button. Items can be combined simply enough on a menu screen, although the option to do so using the touch screen would have been nice. Usable items can be cycled through with a push of the trigger buttons. Stretchable Jake is even among these items, and his consistent presence as both a companion and helper in the game adds to the dialogue and humour of the stories.
It's worth noting that the game can be beaten in about 9 or 10 hours; there is room for promotional codes to be entered, but what they might do is a mystery as of the time of writing for this review.
Although it suffers from some hiccups in presentation and a nearly needless combat system, Adventure Time: Jake & Finn Investigations plays to the strengths of the show by concentrating on its appealing world and characters. While it might prove too basic for more advanced players, younger players and families should have a fun time questing with dog and human. Big fans of the show, of course, should not feel so afraid to give this one a try, either.