Ty the Tasmanian Tiger - GC - Review
Steve Irwin broadcasts from his zoo there, Foster beer has been teaching us how to speak the language in commercials for a couple of years, and I still to this day have no idea what vegemite is … but I know that I didn’t care for it at all. That’s right, it’s Australia! The same place that brought us Men at Work in the 80’s, Kylie Minogue in the 90’s, and now Ty the Tasmanian Tiger for 2000. Actually, Krome studios brings us Ty the Tasmanian Tiger, but the company is located in Fortitude Valley and the game takes place in the lands and outback of the land down under. OK, so all my silly blabbering aside, what’s this game all about?
The story behind Ty the Tasmanian Tiger goes like this ... Ty grows up having only vague memories of his friends and family of the same species, and he was taken in at a young age by a family of Bilbies (They look kind of like mice with a bushy end on their tail). While playing a game of tag with one of his Bilby mates one day, Ty accidentally stumbles across a mural of other Tasmanian Tigers on a rock wall, and is then confronted by a ghostly character known as the Bunyip Elder. He informs Ty that his family is in fact still alive, and all he has to do is travel out across Australia to find five magic talismans and re-open the portal they were trapped in … bringing them back home once again. Along the way, he will have some help from his outback friends, like Maurie the cockatoo, Julius the koala, and Shazza … his dingo girlfriend.
In typical platformer style, you control Ty in a third person view as he runs, jumps, boomerangs, and bites his way across the lands of Australia in search of the talismans to save his family and bring them back home. The environments are big, and while slightly linear … allow for some exploration to be done off the beaten path at times. Krome did a good job on the control setup as well, and made it simple enough for platformer veterans as well as newcomers to the style hop right in and start the adventure. In addition, Ty’s buddies will also pop up in a cutscene to explain new things and which buttons to use so you don’t have to keep going back and forth from the instruction manual. On a more not so good side, cutscenes seem to come up quite often … some at times where it just seems to be for conversation, but they can be hurried through by pressing the A button, or skip it altogether by pressing Y. If you skip over something you needed, you can also just go back to it and hit the Y button again, so you don’t ever get frustrated over something you may have missed.
The land down under is separated into five different zones, and one bonus one in the Gamecube version (insert applause here). Each zone has three areas to go through in which Ty must find opals, golden cogs, and “Thunder Eggs” to power up Julius’ machine and find the Talismans. Overall, Ty seems like your typical platformer game as you run and jump on various rocks and platforms to go through and find items and collect things … just like in every other game of the same style. Krome did some things to make it a little unique, however, the first of which being some of the little mini quests and things to do while in the stage. Thunder Eggs are the most important thing to find, since they open up new areas to visit by finding a certain number of them. Some are typical “it’s in a hard to reach place”, but others require you to do things like helping bats out of a cave, lighting torches to help someone get home, or check on the girlfriend of a buddy who’s been missing the whole day. It gives a little more depth to the platformer style overall, and you never really know what you will be asked to do next.
Another neat thing about Ty is how the boomerang attacks come into play. Ty uses two boomerangs, which can be used to hit the same opponent or two separate ones, depending on how, when, and if you decide to use the lock on feature. You can also use a FPS style view to help with precise aiming, and it also helps in “sniping” some of your enemies from a distance. The golden cogs that you find in each stage are also used by Julius to upgrade your boomerangs, and Ty can get some which allow for a zooming feature, some which are on fire, or some which have the ability to be thrown underwater. Boomerangs at times can also be used in aiding your quest, since the icerangs, for example, can be thrown into water to make a little ice platform to stand on. They can also be used to glide in the air, which really comes in handy to help when ledge jumping to help ensure that you don’t underestimate the jump.
All of the neat and unique things aside, there are two things I found that might take away from the experience for some. First, the game at it’s heart and core is in fact a typical platformer. Most of the time you will be doing the same style things that you’ve done X amount of times in the past, which are jumping on small areas, dangling from ledges, and collecting multiple items to get to the next part and do it again. To it’s credit, there are some things that break the running and jumping aspect up a little, like swimming around in shark filled waters or bouncing up hollow trees looking for things, but again it all feels like it’s been done before somewhere else in the past.
Secondly, the camera and character control posed some issues at times. The camera has a tendancy to kind of go where it feels is the best view, which makes it go where you don’t want it at times. While the camera can be moved around as you need it, it can make those perilous jumps deadly at times, which is a periodic annoyance we’ve all faced at one time or another. In addition, Ty’s controls feel a little to responsive at times. While the animation and response are smooth, they also feel a tad bit too overextended until you get used to them, and can cause some mistimed jumps or “go back to the bottom and start over” moments.
Overall, this is a well done, cutesy, fun title for the Gamecube which will entertain adults and youngsters alike. Even with the repetitive nature of the genre type at times, It’s evident that Krome strived to do some things differently to make it stand on it’s own two feet and give people something a little different. So if you enjoy platformer titles, and don’t mind the fact that it won’t be any groundbreaking new style or won’t change the platforming world, then you owe it to yourself to at least give this one a rental and see if it’s what you’re looking for.
Good controls, even if they are a little loose at times, and a great job on the environments not only in size … but in making parts kind of non linear to allow for a little looking around. There’s enough of a challenge, unlockable extra stuff, and objectives during gameplay to keep boredom away. The camera can be a bit of a hassle sometimes, but that’s not an uncommon thing.
Some areas, like the Barrier Reefs, looked really expansive and good … while others looked a little jagged in places containing trees and tall grass. The characters were well drawn and entertaining, and neat little extras like Ty’s footprints in the dirt, sand, and snow were good touches.
The voiceovers sound great, and the music has a neat little Australian flare to it which helps set the tone for the environment. The music is also set on a loop, which is normal, but gets a little repetitive during long levels of exploration.
The controls and the first couple of stages are pretty easy, and a seasoned platformer veteran shouldn’t have much trouble overall. Younger gamers and people new to the style may have a little more of a challenge in mid to later levels.
It’s been done before, but again … Krome really added some things in here and there to make it a little more unique to other games that are out of the same type. Unfortunately, many gamers may find it to be nothing new.
Any fan of platform titles or parents looking for a good game that the whole family can enjoy may get a good deal with Ty. If you are a seasoned platform player, I would suggest renting this title before you buy to make sure that the unique stuff is “unique” enough to warrant a purchase. If you’re new to the genre, this would be a good game to get you started into the style.