Regular Show is a hit animated TV series on Cartoon Network, popular for its off-the-wall non sequiturs and reference-laden humor. The show is notable not only for it’s irreverent jokes, but for actually understanding gamers; it respects retro and arcade game culture in a way that most shows don’t, and is obviously made by a team who wants to pay their respects to the games they loved as children. It’s ironic then that the videogame based on Regular Show doesn’t actually seem to understand the cartoon; In fact, it doesn’t even really seem to understand videogames.
Regular Show: Mordecai And Rigby In 8-bit Land for from WayForward is a shooter-platformer-action game hybrid, but it does none of these things well. The game has four worlds, the first three focusing on a different playstyle and the fourth mixing them up into a confusing mess. These sections play slightly differently, but they all have the same issues; controls are loose and unresponsive, enemies are laughably stupid and unvaried, and the levels are indistinguishably repetitive.
You can switch between Mordecai and Rigby at will during platformer levels. Both have their own abilities that can be powered up by bonus items found throughout the levels. Mordecai can double jump, while Rigby can fit into tighter spaces. Pressing the shoulder buttons causes your character to transform in certain areas; Mordecai can turn into a vertical-shooting spaceship and Rigby can turn into a Metal Gear-style top-down shooter. Whether or not you can transform depends on the background, and you’re required to switch between platforming and shooting frequently. The swiftly changing gameplay should make for a pretty interesting game, but the uninspired level design and loose controls get in the way of that.
Each world has a boss stage at the end, but they’re all poorly designed and not at all fun to play; They range from stupidly exploitable and easy to overly difficult. You’re never given a power-up beforehand, so whatever you have at the end of the previous level is what you have for the boss. I would comment on the incredibly short length of the game – less than an hour if you can manage to get through without the bad design and controls tripping you up too much; but its brevity is actually one of its biggest strengths.
As underwhelming as the gameplay is, the presentation is ten times worse. The game starts not with an animated cut-scene, nor voice-acting or even some sort of retro send-up to classic NES cinematics, but with still frames taken from the show. The dialogue reads like it was written by someone who has no real familiarity with the show, much as the level design and graphics seem to have been put together by someone who’s never actually played a retro game. Luckily there are only about eight lines of text; even between levels there’s no dialogue – the characters never interact with each other and references to the show are minimal.
The game has some serviceable pixelated graphics, but they are certainly not 8-bit; that distinction should be meaningless, but it is important here. When the pair of slacker protagonists play a game in the show, it actually looks and sounds like a NES game. The team behind Regular Show take a great deal of care to make accurate references. The show’s creator and lead actor J.G. Quintal is a big fan of the medium; sadly, this game really misses the point, not only of the show, but retro games in general.
Mordecai and Rigby are at least well-animated, though the 8-10 enemies in the game are not. Rather than taking inspiration from the show, the enemies are a ragtag team of generic baddies that vary wildly in quality and visual style. The game has only a handful of different backgrounds, which get pretty old of the course of its twenty levels. Moreover, the monochromatic gray backgrounds in the third world are practically indistinguishable from the platforms, which makes it somewhat infuriating to play.
The music is actually pretty fun and retro sounding; though there are only a few songs in the game, the chiptune-inspired soundtrack is perhaps the most apt form of homage to be found. Unfortunately though, whenever too much is happening onscreen the music starts chugging and skipping. I’d say that the music is one of the best aspects of the game, but it’s hard to do so when it doesn’t even play properly.
Mordecai and Rigby in 8-Bit land is perhaps the buggiest 3DS game that I’ve ever played. At one point my lives stopped counting down, staying at 8 each time I died. Later, my character glitched through a wall and I had to exit the level before I could progress. Especially surprising was when the game actually crashed and kicked me out to the home screen; that’s the first time I’ve ever seen that happen on a 3DS. It’s truly an impressive feat to fit this amount of bugs into a game that takes less than an hour to stumble through.
I grew up playing the flash games hosted on CartoonNetwork.Com, and even return to them now from time to time. There are many free games on that site that are of a greater length and depth than this full priced retail game. Do yourself a favor: go there for your fix of Cartoon Network and save yourself the time and money that this game wastes. Better yet, watch an episode of the cartoon; there is more enjoyment to be had in even the weakest of the 12 minute episodes than there is in the entirety of Mordecai And Rigby In 8-Bit Land.