Monday, 22 July 2013
Tiny Barbarian DX (PC)
Tiny Barbarian DX is a bloodline descendant of the 2011 free game Tiny Barbarian, essentially a rich testosterone-heavy blend of Conan the Barbarian, Ghouls 'n Ghosts and Castlevania. Utilizing the same engine as StarQuail's XBLIG exclusive Astroman, Tiny Barbarian DX builds on its heritage to bring new characters, backgrounds and music to this successfully funded 2012 Kickstarter project.
'TinyB' has learnt a few new tricks since his last outing and has new moves, mounts and an improved combo system. The controls are as smooth as butter and the visuals are full of character thanks to the great work by Michael Stearns, who was not only the programmer but also the designer and artist of the game.
The music is a wonderful mix of high energy chip tunes and genuinely feels like its from the glory days of 8 bit platform games. As with most retro inspired indie games the music is key to the overall experience and I can safely say that Jeff Ball does not disappoint. Similarly, the visuals are bright and full of humor, the animation is great and the frame rate never drops. I personally loved the chunky, stylized characters and thoroughly enjoyed discovering new baddies to look at. There are even some 8 bit babes to be discovered.
Gameplay-wise, Tiny Barbarian DX is solid and quite challenging at times. You'll find yourself flailing between platforms and dodging spears whilst dishing out a beating to any monsters in your path on a regular basis. Combat is a simple affair with a single attack button, but you can string together hits into 'God Of War' style combos. The difficulty level steadily rises throughout and although there are a few moments of frustration as you apply newly learnt skills, the game follows the modern trend of not penalising you for dying (instead it just sets you back a little and asks to give it another shot). Although here at RGCD we don't normally commend games that hold the players hand, in the case of Tiny Barbarian DX this feature is a Good Thing, as I ended up dying many, many times throughout Episode One...
It wouldn't be a fair review if I didn't have a couple of gripes, but in this case there are literally only a couple. I wasn't really that impressed with the mounts as they controlled a little strange, kind of like they were wearing roller-skates and I didn't see much of a benefit in actually using them. Also at times I found myself leaping from the mount in error as my thumb was fractionally pressing the up button. The other minor issue I had with the game was the difficulty of successfully ledge grabbing, often whilst attempting this seemingly simple task Mr Barbarian got a face full of wall. But then, that complaint may just be a reflection of my playing skill.
I can happily recommend this title, the $9.99 price tag is justified and the game will only get better with time, as the team are aiming to add new episodes periodically at no additional cost. I hope they do as I have certainly enjoyed spending time with the Tiny Bearded one.
Purchase the game here (direct from the developer's website).
Download the original 2011 game here (direct from the developer's website).
I backed the Tiny Barbarian kickstarter last year, and Michael Stearns has pretty much delivered on his promise, crafting a genuinely fun and ultra-cute run 'n' bash game that I find myself returning to time and time again. My only complaint is that the first episode offered here is a little short, and upon completion I was left feeling unsatisfied and hungry for future adventures.
However, there is a saving grace; Tiny Barbarian DX has a wonderful survival mode. Upon booting the game the player is presented with endless waves of orcs, trolls and goblins to defeat upon a mountain top, and the main title screen appears only after your eventual demise. This is for me one of the main highlights of Tiny Barbarian DX, and I'm really glad that there is an option to play this single-arena style battle to the death over and over.