Popular Cartoon Network programme Regular Show has had its first official video game, with the lazy groundskeepers Mordecai and Rigby starring in the very aptly-named Regular Show: Mordecai and Rigby in 8-bit Land for Nintendo 3DS. Developed by WayForward, which has a number of solid titles under its belt now, fans of the show will be hoping for a good game to kick-start the Blue Jay and raccoon's gaming adventures.
Going off of WayForward's recent past record, good things could safely have been expected with its handling of this game. It's actually very surprising, then, that Mordecai and Rigby in 8-bit Land unfortunately delivers some of the most frustrating and poor level design in the 2D platformer genre on the 3DS.
In its simplest terms, there are 20 levels to work through; four worlds with five stages each, with the last one always being a boss encounter. Four worlds mean four different themes, but they are far too bland and forgettable; it's difficult to pick out any specific levels that offer any stand-out and fun experiences. When 8-bit Land tries to produce something different, it ends up feeling out of place and infuriating.
Take Worlds 2 and 3, for example. The normal procedure thus far was that of a typical 2D platformer; run along and jump on bad guys' heads. World 2 introduces the ability to switch to a spaceship akin to an Arwing upon crossing in front of a space-like background. At this moment, the game becomes a side-scrolling shooter; which is fine for the most part. The issue comes in the need to switch back and forth between normal character and ship, which produces difficulties at many points in the game in trying to reach certain platforms.
World 3 brings in another type of gameplay when jumping in front of a more plain-looking grey background; that of a top-down shooting game, that could probably be likened to the style of classic games Time Pilot or Zombies Ate My Neighbours. World 4 goes a step further to then meld all of the platforming, side-scrolling shooting and top-down shooting into the same levels, where these attempts to deliver unique and fun gameplay end up becoming extremely maddening means to reaching the end. The necessity to switch between each one by hitting either shoulder button at the right moment in some of the more convoluted areas surrounded by enemies rarely is a pleasantly safe transition.
Even sadder is that the actual main 2D platforming segments don't come out to high standards. Hit detection is very poor, where jumps on top of enemies that should defeat them end up doing the very opposite and killing Mordecai or Rigby instead. From the very early instance that this becomes apparent, it's then a constant worrisome trek through the entire rest of the game because it is never a sure-fire guarantee that a bob on the head of a bad guy will actually connect. More irritating is that this is practically a one-hit game, and is certainly not very appealing for the younger audience that would be more inclined to picking this up due to their fondness for the TV series. 8-bit Land is hard, and whilst that may in part be paying homage to classic games from the NES days, rarely does it feel like the player has ever accomplished something after eventually completing a level; it's more of a relief that the trying and stressful parts are over with.
This is without even going into the final boss of the game. Again, whilst it may be a throwback to retro games and their insane difficulties back then, this one was far from a boss worth enduring for the length of time and retries that it took. With just one hit to live on throughout every boss encounter, it's hard to see how many would tolerate it.
On top of that, numerous glitches occurred during the adventure, including one that happened in the final boss that forced a quit to the level map, thus giving up the midway checkpoint of said boss and having to start from the beginning again. Imagine how that must have felt after already somehow making it to the midway point in the first place. A checkpoint at all was welcome, though… and quite surprising given everything that had gone before reaching the end of the game.
One-hit deaths and the very unreliable hit detection mean the majority of the game is spent trying to jump high and over every enemy, instead of on top of them. The total gameplay style changes during platforming and the need to constantly switch between them in many levels feels out of place and isn't implemented well; standalone stages for each may have worked better. Levels feel too much like a mish-mash of ideas that come across as poorly designed and uninspiring.
Incredibly bland and nowhere near the standard expected of WayForward after gorgeous games like A Boy and His Blob and Mighty Switch Force. From the stages to the enemies, everything is forgettable. It isn't always clear which platforms can be jumped on or which are in the foreground or not, as well as it sometimes not being easy to see the areas that allow for switching the gameplay style. A number of glitches happen frequently; normally upon collisions with enemies, causing oddities to occur.
Much like the graphics, nothing stands out, which is again unusual, and the variety of tunes is thin on the ground with the same track used for every stage in the current world. In its attempts to sound like an 8-bit game, there are too many loud beeps and crackles that aren't very pleasant on the ears.
About three hours to get through the 20 difficult levels on offer, with a New Game+ option unlocking afterwards that makes enemies and bosses stronger… However, by the time the game is completed the first time round, it's unlikely to warrant another go again.
There may be many fans of the show interested in Regular Show: Mordecai and Rigby in 8-bit Land, but it will undoubtedly come as a real disappointment to them. Lacking in fun and memorable level design, being far too difficult for its own good and plagued with glitches, it's difficult to find a reason to part with the cash for this. Not a good start for Mordecai and Rigby's first video game.