I am a huge fan of Regular Show. I remember seeing a promo for the cartoon and thinking, “Well, this sure looks strange.” When I finally got a chance to see it, I was instantly hooked. The episode, entitled “High Score,” featured the show’s main characters, Mordecai the blue jay and Rigby the raccoon, attempting to earn respect by getting high scores in an arcade game. As both a gamer and a child of the 80s, this episode really drew me in. It featured old-school arcade games, a New Kids on the Block song, and a perfect parody of 80s arcade icon Billy Mitchell. It even had the universal sign of “I got next” by putting a quarter on the arcade cabinet monitor.
As I got more involved with the show, I noticed more and more retro video game references popping up. Even the Sega Master System makes an appearance in several episodes. It quickly became obvious to me that series creator JG Quintel is a huge fan of retro video games and the generation from which they came, and his love of 80s culture is proudly displayed in every episode. Having understood this, I could only imagine how amazing a Regular Show video game would be. My excitement grew when I heard that not only was a game being made, but it was also being programmed by WayForward, one of my favorite developers. I thought that there was no way that this game would be anything short of perfect. Now, having completed Regular Show: Mordecai & Rigby in 8-Bit Land, I found myself feeling that, while the game is fun, it could have been so much more. So much more.
Publisher: D3 Publisher
Genre: Old-School Platformer
Release Date: October 29, 2013
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+
The story in Regular Show is pretty straightforward: Mordo & Rigs receive a new video game console in the mail from an unknown sender. Now, instead of going to work, they decide to pop on the new console and play some games. Unfortunately, the console is a trap, and our heroes are sucked through the TV into – you guessed it – 8-Bit Land. Technically, it’s not 8-Bit Land, it’s more of a 16-Bit Land, but I understand the reasoning, so no harm there. Mordecai and Rigby are then tasked with traveling through each of the game’s four worlds to confront the evil mastermind responsible for their abduction.
The game plays just as any classic game would: You travel from left to right, jumping on baddies and collecting cash – but it gets deeper than that. You can switch between Mordecai and Rigby on the fly, as each has their own ability to help you get to some of those hard-to-reach collectibles. Mordecai gets the classic double-jump, and Rigby’s small stature allows him to run through small crevasses. Utilizing both characters is necessary, especially when you’re trying to find the three hidden VHS tapes in each level. Each world ends in a boss fight, which I found both challenging and humorous, as the bosses are all classic villains from the show.
It’s not until you start the second world when you really see how much of a love letter this game is to console games of the 80s. Mordecai’s special power is to turn into a spaceship, and the game changes from side-scroller to SHMUP, akin to Gradius or Life Force. When you reach the third world, you use Rigby’s ability to change to a top-down shooter. The moment I switched to Rigby’s play style, vibes of the classic NES title Fester’s Quest hit me. That feeling of nostalgia put a big smile on my face as I continued through the game.
If there’s anything the developers at WayForward excel at, it’s 2D animation and music. And in that aspect, Regular Show does not disappoint. They absolutely nailed Rigby’s running animation, and I was thrilled to see bad guys from the show in action (like the snooty waiter and his glovechucks.) The music is also fantastic, which is of course no surprise considering the developers. Regular Show’s music is chiptunes at their finest – have a listen.
So as far as the game being a history lesson in classic gaming, WayForward hit it out of the park. The play style, graphics, and sound all scream “retro” – so kudos to WayForward on that. Unfortunately, the gameplay itself does not live up to the same standards. Controls can be very floaty, especially in the levels where you play as Spaceship Mordecai. You cannot stop on a dime; there’s a bit of a slide factor, like you’re trying to stop running while on ice. Now, I understand why that was put in – after all, you’re technically “in space” when flying, but it gets annoying at times seeing as though you’re dead after just one hit. Many times I’ve tried to stop, but ran right into an enemy ship. This forced me to traverse the spaceship levels at an extremely slow pace, just so that I wouldn’t accidentally die. The button to switch to the ship was, at times, unresponsive. There are several points in the game where you would need to change from the ship into Mordecai, fall, then change back into the ship quickly to reach one of the secret VHS tapes. I died several times while attempting this because I wasn’t able to switch back, and subsequently fell into a pit.
The hit detection is also very unforgiving. If you do not jump on a bad guy at exactly the right spot, it’s instant death. This left me just jumping over them, or using the flying fist power-up to take them out instead. The final boss battle is especially indicative of this issue. But as I played through and beat the game, collecting every secret VHS tape, it obviously doesn’t make the game unplayable.
My major issue with the game is the length. I was able to beat the game in about three sessions, totaling about three or four hours. For a retail title, that is just absurd. Granted, once you beat the game with all the VHS tapes, you unlock New Game +, which ramps up the difficulty, so there’s an extra playthrough there. In addition, you unlock the Game Djinn, a great reference to the Game Genie, where you can enter cheat codes. The length of the game is especially upsetting to fans of the show like myself, as there is an absolute wealth of characters and settings that could have been used. No supporting characters like Skips, Muscle Man, and High-Five Ghost? That’s not right.
Please don’t think that Regular Show: Mordecai & Rigby in 8-Bit Land is a bad game, though. When it works, the game is fun to play. The fourth world in particular presents some satisfying challenges; switching between Mordecai and Rigby and using their abilities makes for some great platforming. The game has some good qualities, and overall I did enjoy playing it despite its obvious flaws. Had this been an eShop-exclusive title at a lower price, I would say it’s definitely worth a purchase. Until then, I would only suggest buying this title if a) you’re a huge fan of the show and b) you can find it on the cheap. I’m still hoping for an amazing Regular Show game, though, and until that time comes, this 3DS outing fits somewhere between “Ohhhhhhhhhh!” and “Oh, no, bro!”
Review Disclosure: A review copy of Regular Show: Mordecai & Rigby in 8-Bit Land was provided by D3 Publisher for the purposes of this review.