It’s Steven Universe Week at Unicorn Booty, so all week long we’ll be exploring the artists, fans and creative aspects that make it the most progressive cartoon in history!
Cartoons have had a long history of tie-in video games — and not always a happy history. It seems for every Duck Tales that’s fun to play, there’s also several Family Guy: Back To The Multiverses that are only good for generating hilarious reviews. Steven Universe also has a game — in fact, six, if you count the browser games on the Cartoon Network website — but the main event is Attack the Light, an RPG featuring our favorite gay space rocks. And, thankfully, Attack the Light is one of the good tie-in games; in fact, it’s a must-play for any Steven Universe fan, regardless of whether you usually enjoy RPGs or not.
Attack the Light is a collaboration between Cartoon Network and Grumpyface Studios, and you can tell the Steven Universe crew had a lot of input. Just look at the credits: show creator Rebecca Sugar wrote the story with former supervising director Ian Jones-Quartey. There’s also new audio from Zach Callison (Steven), Deedee Magno Hall (Pearl) and Michaela Dietz (Amethyst) recorded especially for the game (don’t worry: Garnet speaks in the game too, but it’s all archival audio from the show). And despite the game art being designed by Grumpyface rather than the Crewniverse, the RPG feels like the show.
The storyline is relatively simple: Steven plays an RPG when the rest of the Crystal Gems return with a prism holding seven light warriors. Steven asks to hold it, thinking he’s not powerful enough to release them, but — surprise — he is! Good thing, too, because otherwise we wouldn’t have a video game. The four Gems warp to the different places each light warrior escaped to in hopes of getting them back in the prism. But is all what it seems? (Again, no.)
Gameplay is likewise simple, but so too simple that it becomes Cow Clicker. You move around the world by swiping and tapping brings up contextual menus — similar to the way actions take place in The Sims. Every once in a while, the game will mis-identify a swipe and trying to open a treasure chest will commonly send you to the next screen instead. Luckily, you can get back to the previous screen to open the chest rather easily, so this was a minor annoyance at worst.
Attack the Light is aimed at children, so it’s a bit easier and shorter than most RPGs, but that has its advantages. You don’t really need to grind to raise experience points (XP) like you do in other RPGs — that alone makes Attack the Light much more enjoyable for those who might otherwise stay away from RPGs because of the slow leveling-up. It’s also easier to find items; even though there’s loads of hidden easter eggs and secret rooms, the maps are generally smaller, so it’s much easier to explore every nook-and-cranny.
While the game is short, it feels like the correct length. As the battles eventually become a bit repetitive, that Attack the Light ends when it does is an asset — there’s not enough time for it to get boring. But if you DO want more, the game recently added “Diamond Mode”, which increases the difficulty while adding more items.
There aren’t many problems with the game — occasionally, it would hang, but the game also auto-saves your progress, so you don’t lose anything by re-opening it. Often, upon reopening, it’d put you right back at the very same battle you were in.
Ultimately, though, Attack the Light stays true to the show. The folks at Grumpyface are clearly fans and it shows; you’ll be surprised when you see how many Crewniverse members helped make the game and playing it, it feels like the game design and animation both came from the Crewniverse itself. But Grumpyface scores a win with Attack the Light — here’s hoping Grumpyface gets to take more trips to the Steven Universe, uh, universe.
Attack the Light is available for iOS, Android and Apple TV. For this review, we played the Apple TV version.