App Review: One Dumb Feature Kept Me From Loving Adventure Time Card Wars

App Review: One Dumb Feature Kept Me From Loving Adventure Time Card Wars

I love Adventure Time. I love collectible card games. An Adventure Time collectible card game should therefore be the perfect thing, but then my least favourite mobile gaming mechanic rears its ugly head.

Based on the episode of Adventure Time in which Finn and Jake play a once fictional game called Card Wars, this digital version is part of a two-pronged assault, alongside Cryptozoic’s physical card game, which should be in stores now-ish.

The gameplay is quite simple for a collectible card game. Both players lay down four lands, which form four corridors on the game board. They place creatures on the four spots, which battle against their opponent’s creatures in the same row. If there is no opposing creature, damage from attacks goes directly to player. The goal is to deplete your opponent’s health completely, after which you are declared the Cool Guy.

Think of the digital version of the game as practice for the real thing. There is no multiplayer, just a procession of progressively more difficult opponents. Cards can be earned in battle, crafted in the game’s card forge, or unlocked via special chests which require gems to unlock.

I’ve no problem with reasonable in-app purchases, and while Adventure Time – Card Wars‘ are on the pricey side — one gem costs a dollar — I’ve been playing for hours without purchasing a single thing, and having a fine time doing so.

What I cannot stand is this:

See what the fish is pointing to? That is an energy meter, the most despicable method for arbitrarily restricting gameplay ever devised. Once you run out of energy, you cannot play the game until your energy has refilled. That means either waiting, or spending a gem — a $0.99 gem — to refill your energy.

It’s a common mechanic in free-to-play mobile games, yes. The thing is this is not a free-to-play game. It will cost $4.49 when it’s available on the app store. Who wants to pay $4.49 for a game and then be told they can’t play it? Even if the time between energy points is less than a half hour, that’s still time players have to wait to play a game they’ve paid for.

That’s not mathematical at all. In fact, it’s pretty much unacceptable.

It’s a pity. As you can see in the video at the top of the article, I’m having a great time playing. It’s got voice clips from the cartoon’s characters, plenty of cards to collect, and a card battling system that’s incredibly easy to pick up and play.

Thanks to that energy meter, Adventure Time – Card Wars is also pretty easy to put back down again.

Adventure Time – Card Wars!

Genre: Single-Player Card Battler
Developer: Kung Fu Factory
Platform: iOS
Price: $4.49


  • Ahhh Mike, Mike, Mike. You must be new. This is just how mobile gaming works. Every mobile gamer knows and accepts that this is just how things are. Stop applying your traditional gamer values and realise you aren’t the intended audience. /tongueInCheek

  • Played the game, and at least for the first few levels, the hearts mechanic made me more careful with each hand and how I played as if I failed too often, there would be an actual negative consequence (I couldn’t keep playing immediately and would have to wait). It might also be in place so the player can’t just keep retrying for the best possible hand out of your deck.

    The hearts also reset when you leveled them up, so by the time I had run out, it reset and gave me more anyhow.

    I’ve seen worse uses of timers than this, but it is still a bit annoying, particularly since I’ve brought the game already.

  • Sounds like every single app ever. Also, if you don’t suck the energy meter shouldn’t be a problem.

  • I agree. I loved the game right up to running out on the meter. I didn’t even hit it until the later levels where you need 3+ hearts to even play. Fail once or twice and you’re waiting 45 mins+ to play again, unless you want to pony up the dough.
    I could see it in a f2p game, but not a game that I paid that much for.

  • Actually. I think it is a good idea. And responsible. Kids are going to play this game. They shouldn’t be able to play all day. Good work cartoons!

  • there is way against this if you repeatly win the heart quest (every 3rd quest) you will regain hearts

  • It wont actually let me on the game!!!! It goes through the tutorial and when it gets to phase two then it crashes!!! UNACCEPTIBLE!!!!!!

  • It wont actually let me on the game!!!! It goes through the tutorial and when it gets to phase two then it crashes!!!

  • These types of games were hacked a long time ago. Just go to your settings and set time forward as many hours as you’d like and you don’t have to wait at all.

    My big concern with this game is the fact that it still freezes/crashes every week or so of play.

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