It doesn’t matter how much of a fan you may be of Cartoon Network’s Regular Show, it doesn’t matter how interesting the hook of combining old-school game genres may sound; very little of Regular Show: Mordecai and Rigby in 8-bit Land has anything to do with the popular cartoon series, and even less of it is worth your time (what little is required to finish it). It is utterly skippable, and certainly not worth the asking price.
When beginning the game, you’ll be greeted with the charming Mordecai and Rigby as an exchange of dialogue sets things up. They receive an unexpected package that contains a video game system. Upon booting it up, the duo is sucked inside and must battle through to escape, setting the stage for a vintage NES-style backdrop. Soak up this short dialogue sequence while you can, because even though it lacks any voice acting, it’s still the only taste of these characters you’ll have all the way until the even more abrupt ending.
8-bit Land’s hook is the combination of classic 2D side-scrolling genres: the standard platformer, the Gradius-style shoot-em-up, and the Gauntlet-inspired top-down shooter. Each of the first three “worlds” in the game (each containing four levels and a boss fight) introduces one of these elements, with all three necessary to finish the final fourth world. Interesting concept, right? Poor execution.
The platforming is uninteresting and technically flawed. The levels seem like they were created by stream of consciousness, randomly placing tunnels here and jumps there, eschewing any notion of continuity. Even the classic practice of jumping on an enemy to defeat them doesn’t work properly, plagued by the dreaded “perfect pixel” requirement to pull it off. If you hit an enemy just off-center, it can result in death – usually a one-hit affair – so the game also comes complete with a healthy dose of frustration in later levels. You can swap between Mordecai and Rigby on the fly, but this feature’s usefulness is limited; Rigby can enter the occasional small space, but Mordecai can double-jump, making him far more effective 90% of the time.
The second world introduces the space combat portion, and the game immediately becomes disorienting. Any portion of the level that has a space-style background (essentially, black with stars) allows your character to transform into a spaceship as the game becomes an old-school, side-scrolling space shooter for a moment. Only, it really just consists of flying about a small portion of the level instead of walking. The area is still restricted by hallways and is typically littered with enemies to increase challenge. The floaty controls frustrate, but the nonsensical level design hurts the most.
The top-down, Gauntlet-style mechanic is introduced in the third world. Portions of these levels arm Rigby with a gun while he freely roams about an area without concern of gravity, shooting all enemies encountered. This is probably the most entertaining aspect, but that isn’t saying much. Most enemies can be killed from a distance without ever noticing you and, again, the level design is all over the place.
Each stage of the fourth and final world requires usage of all three mechanics to progress. This should be the most engaging part of the game, but in practice, it’s the least likable. The levels feel like a patchwork affair — each style shoehorned in, one after the next, in an effort to pack something interesting together like balling different colors of Play-Doh. It’s punctuated by a final boss that is initially frustrating and ultimately exploitable. Once it was all over, I was just happy that I didn’t have to go back.
One thing that 8-bit Land has going for it is the soundtrack. The excellent chiptune accompaniment almost makes some moments of the game bearable. It’s also worth noting that there were very few bugs or glitches encountered during play — the game did function properly for the most part. There are also a few collectibles that might spur some gamers to replay a level here and there, but I’m sorry to say that unlockable concept art is not enough incentive for me to do any of it over again.
VERDICT: Regular Show: Mordecai and Rigby in 8-bit Land is aggressively un-enjoyable. Senseless level design, poor hit detection, and cheap deaths combine for a wholly repellent experience. It hardly deserves the Regular Show title – replace Mordecai and Rigby with any two characters and the game wouldn’t change in the slightest. The cross-genre platforming idea may have been an intriguing one, but it doesn’t matter. This title is a master class in turning a good idea into a bad game.
BAD. Ugly, lazy, and unpleasant, if we’ve scored a game so low then it has serious issues. A 3/10 game will suffer from a combination of uninspired, lacklustre design, unfixed bugs and poor presentation.