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EGM Review:
Regular Show: Mordecai & Rigby in 8-Bit Land

Posted on November 4, 2013 AT 02:30pm

Sleep Fighter

Contrary to what its name conveys, Regular Show is anything but. It’s not all that regular as far as “normal” goes, and in terms of quality, it’s really quite spectacular. It’s a great show, and it deserves a great videogame.

Regular Show: Mordecai & Rigby in 8-Bit Land is not that game.

While an homage to the old-school decked out in Regular Show dressings makes perfect sense on paper, WayForward either tried way too hard to replicate the flaws that accompanied gaming’s first steps or unintentionally re-created them through slapdash development efforts.

This could, perhaps, be forgiven if playing Mordecai & Rigby in 8-Bit Land felt like an interactive episode of Regular Show. But despite claims that creator J.G. Quintel helped pen the storyline, there’s no story to speak of. There is a premise, sure. A set-up. Tasked to some menial labor by their employer, Benson, Mordecai and Rigby are quickly distracted by the arrival of a new videogame console.

Of course, the console—in typical Regular Show shark-jumping routine—proves to be something of an otherworldly appliance of sorts and winds up transporting Mordecai and Rigby to the titular 8-Bit Land. The general trajectory of the levels—that is, where things begin and where things end—mostly apes Season 4’s two-part opener, in which the son of Giant Bearded Face—er, Garrett Bobby Ferguson—tries to destroy the park where Mordecai and Rigby work in order to pave way for a highway to the underworld. Separating itself and the conclusion of that episode, however, is a six-part final boss battle designed by someone who confused Regular Show’s 3DS game for a JRPG.

Regular Show, however, is a platformer, and as far as platformers go, 8-Bit Land is as bland as they come—which is absurd, because the cartoon series is bursting with personality between its quirky cast of characters and third-act, shark-jumping proclivities. And, again, when you step back and look at the Regular Show game conceptually—an homage to the 8-bit that’s principally a platformer with a splash of top-down shooter à la Fester’s Quest and side-scrolling shooter in the vein of Gradius to give it some flavor—there’s a whole lot of appeal. Unfortunately, Regular Show is riddled with the very worst no-nos when it comes to the design and successful execution of these genres.

On the platformer side, the biggest culprit is hitbox detection. Corners kill in Regular Show, leaving the only stress-free option when hopping on enemies a straight drop. Any angled approach is a crapshoot as to whether you’ll live and they’ll die or you’ll die and they—well, who knows, ‘cause it’s time to restart the level, which you better get used to, ‘cause you’ll be doing it a lot. But where death in Mario feels like your just desert—the end result of leaping before you look—death in Regular Show feels cheap and unfair.

Then there are oversights that are just inexcusable, given that the gameplay switch-ups in Regular Show are the cornerstone of its design. Having a pit that would normally only make sense in the horizontal side-scrolling portions of the game still kill you even when barely grazed during top-down segments is just uncool. In several of my numerous attempts at besting the final boss, I simply fell through the floor as though it wasn’t even there.

All of this is made more frustrating by a lack of precision control, something worsened still by the 3DS circle pad. And forget about using the D-pad if your hands are bigger than those of a child. It’s 3DS XL or bust there.

Fortunately, there isn’t a whole lot of game to suffer through. With just a little bit of prowess and a healthy amount of patience, Regular Show can be wrapped up in one two-hour sitting. And most of that time, I’d wager, will be spent replaying the first or second half of levels. Like the Mario games it tries so hard to model itself after, Regular Show doesn’t give Mordecai and Rigby hit points. The only buffer between them and a one-hit kill are power-ups, much like how Mario can soldier on when damaged only if he’s consumed a mushroom or fire flower. Unlike in Mario, however, there aren’t a variety of powers or suits to be found in 8-Bit Land. There’s exactly one—a power-up that allows both characters to fire projectiles, or when in their respective alt-modes (side-scrolling shooter for Mordecai, top-down shooter for Rigby), shoot faster or differently.

Honestly, I can well imagine—having trained myself through a gauntlet of 16 chore-like levels across a paltry four worlds—speed-running through Regular Show in about an hour now. It’s inconceivable that I’d spend more than a few minutes per stage, since there isn’t much incentive for sightseeing. The only collectibles are fanny packs and VHS tapes, and collecting these unlocks nothing of value—just concept art and the like to be viewed in a gallery accessed through the main menu.

There are moments when Regular Show isn’t busy tripping over its own shoelaces that make me think there could’ve been something of value here. Moments that felt unencumbered and even flirted with fun. But, by and large, as both a fan of Regular Show and of the all the genres its very first videogame adaptation tries to mix together, no sane part of me can even remotely recommend dropping $30 for such banality.

Developer: WayForward Technologies • Publisher: D3 Publisher • ESRB: E – Everyone • Release Date: 10/29/2013

Regular Show: Mordecai & Rigby in 8-Bit Land sounds good on paper, but it falls apart in execution. Between uninspired level and art design, a rash of irritating issues, and less playtime than your average movie, there really isn’t much value to be found for fans of the show—let alone anyone else.

The Good Whatever glitch that briefly granted infinite lives by not counting deaths.
The Bad Level design that feels functional, not inspired.
The Ugly The embarrassment of death by giant snail.
Regular Show: Mordecai & Rigby in 8-Bit Land is available exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS.
Chris Holzworth, News Editor
Chris Holzworth has wanted to write about games all his life. He first cut his teeth writing for enthusiast sites such as RPGFan, and after writing for just about every other enthusiast website he could came across, wound up as EGM's east coast news correspondent (read: editorial intern) before relocating to LA to serve as news editor. You can follow his rants about storytelling on Twitter @manadrive.[Meet the rest of the crew]

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