You know who else is decently animated, but has a lot of fundamental problems? MY MOM!
The creators and writers of Regular Show are no strangers to 80’s nostalgia. From the various montages set to synth-pop, episodes dedicated to finding the last Laserdisc player, and of course, paying homage to old 8-bit video games, Regular Show seems like it would be a perfect cartoon to adapt into a video game. However, while there are occasional signs of greatness, Mordecai & Rigby in 8-Bit Land is as disappointing as the Maximum Glove.
The game starts out with Benson, the manager of the park where the show primarily takes place, scolding Mordecai and Rigby, our main characters, for trying to get out of mowing the lawn. After Benson leaves, they discover a package at the house inside the park addressed to them, which turns out to be a new video game console. After starting up the console, the TV starts glowing green and sucks them into the screen. They have to fight through the game’s various levels and worlds to escape.
I was very disappointed to learn that this is almost the only time we see any sort of story within the game. The intro cutscene was not only blandly written, but was also just a bunch of still frames with no voice acting. The show is well known for its superb writing and sense of humor, and to see it not be properly taken advantage of is a real missed opportunity.
The in-game graphics can be both impressive and bland at the same time, however. The character animation on both Mordecai and Rigby, as well as the various enemies, are extremely well done. From running, jumping, and using their special Death-Kwon-Do powerups, this is some of the best pixel animation I’ve seen on the 3DS. The blandness tends to come from the level designs as a whole. Each level within a world looks virtually identical to one another, aside from platform and corridor placement. The rampant recycling of said platform and corridor’s assets in each level make it hard for any single level to stand out.
The gameplay itself is also a bit mixed. The controls feel fluent, and it’s satisfying to jump on enemies. It feels a lot like the Tiny Toon Adventures game released on the NES by Konami, if I had to compare it to anything. You can also collect the aforementioned Death-Kwon-Do powerup, which gives Mordecai and Rigby a mullet and cut-off shorts, and allow them to take an extra hit and fire their fist and a laser, respectively. In later worlds, you gain the ability to transform into a spaceship right out of a sidescrolling shoot-’em-up, allowing you to vertically traverse up walls with a machine gun, similar to the top-down levels of Contra games.
The only, and biggest, problem is that the game’s difficulty is far too unforgiving. Each level is extremely long, and without the Death-Kwon-Do, you die in one hit and get sent back to the start of the level or the checkpoints that are a bit too few and far between. This wouldn’t be too much of an issue if the game didn’t contain some extremely cheap deaths. Things like iffy hit detection when jumping on enemies and projectiles that come in way too fast to properly react to make things more frustrating than they need to be. The game is quite generous with extra lives and continues, and you can gamble the money you gather within each level to get even more, but playing each long segment of a level gets extremely boring, especially if you’re forced to slowly progress through it.
If the game has one thing going for it above all else, it’s the soundtrack. Each world has its own background sound, and every single one is fantastic. Each tune is peppy and upbeat, and sound like they came from classic Konami games such as Contra and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles trilogy. The sound effects are pretty basic, and can be extremely annoying when an action is performed multiple times in the same second. For example, when shooting a group of enemies, the sound of them blowing up amplifies rather than simply multiplying, making the game momentarily sound like a bitcrushed warzone. When you finish a level, you’re treated with an NES interpretation of Mordecai and Rigby’s signature victory “OOOOOOOOOH!” from the show, which I found incredibly charming.
Aside from a few references hidden here and there, Regular Show: Mordecai & Rigby in 8-Bit Land won’t really do much for you if you’re a fan of the show. The game itself can actually be a lot of fun despite all of its problems. While the game strives for eggcellence, the game walks the line of changing its name to Trash Boat. Let’s hope that WayForward gets another shot at the license and makes it as awesome as Fist Pump.