Tuesday, September 6, 2016

GadgetJax Reviews: Tadpole Treble for Wii U and Steam

Image from the games page on Steam
What defines a video game? Is it the thrill of action that you get from a complex (or in some cases, simplistic) battle system? Is it the invigorating narrative that gives a game an engaging story to tell? Or maybe it could be the excitement of competition, where several players go head-to-head for one to arise champion and proclaim him or her self the victor?

Now, how would you feel if I told you that it's entirely possible to design a great video game that features none of those traits? For some, this might not sound like a video game at all, as most games feed from the concept of challenge. Yet, today's game does just that.

Our review for today is Tadpole Treble.

But just what is Tadpole Treble? The name of the game is unlikely to ring any bells. So, I present a quick bit of backstory on the development of this uncanny title.
Tadpole Treble was primarily developed by Matthew Taranto. The name isn't immediately recognizable, though, because good ol' Matt isn't known for game development at all! Rather, Matthew is renowned for writing Brawl In The Family, a Webcomic series primarily about Super Smash Brothers and the games each Smash character comes from.
The original strip ran from 2008 to 2014, mostly focusing on Kirby from the Kirby Dream Land series. Perhaps one or two of you have heard the line 'I'm gonna get you, Kirby' online at once. Or, maybe you've noticed the immense popularity of Waluigi as an internet meme icon - yep, you have Brawl In The Family to partly thank for that.
Development for Tadpole Treble started with an online Kickstarter to raise funds for the game's overall development. Thanks to the loyalty of dear readers, Tadpole Treble was successfully Kickstarted, eventually releasing in 2016 for both the Wii U and Steam services.

Tadpole Treble has no major plot, so to speak; It's about as simple as any game you might have played from the 80's. You play as Baton, a young Tadpole who gets washed away from the rest of her family and must return home by swimming through excess lines of sheet music. Nothing special, but a thick story could have detracted from the rest of the game, so I won't complain.
Gameplay is simple as well: Just guide Baton through the musical score, dodging obstacles that represent the notes to each song. You press up or down to move Baton, and hit any button on the controller to slap your fin. This fin slap can hit bamboo chutes for extra points, whack cymbals for a quick jump, or knock away pesky mosquitoes. It couldn't get any more simple than that.
The music of Tadpole Treble is the driving soul of the game, but it isn't of the 'over-energetic' style you would expect in your usual game. Each land you swim through uses new instrument styles, like pianos and flutes. Not exactly something you would expect in the digital age, would you? A few of the lands you visit even feature songs with full vocals; there are only about three of them, but they're some of the most memorable parts of the experience. Thunder Creek is the best of the three.
I must compliment the art direction of this game as well. Matthew's track record as a web cartoonist really shines through here. It has vague similarities to a children's picture book, in both style of art and animation. A new dimension of experience is opened up by the picturesque style achieved here.

The most annoying thing about this title, though, is its length. Tadpole Treble is a very short game, totaling at just a bit over an hour. Short games aren't bad, but the $9.99 price tag may have you thinking twice before you invest in this title.
There are plenty of bonus challenges to take on, as well as a fun level designer mode that lets you compose your own music and swim through it, but the base game is still a bit on the light side. If you aren't a bit of a 'completionist', you'll find yourself putting down Tadpole Treble once the main quest is through.

Don't take the small story mode as a disincentive, though. Tadpole Treble satisfies not as a game, but as an experience. It has a unique gameplay premise, as well as flavorful music and graphics to match. Fans of Brawl In The Family will get an extra kick out of the game, as there are several continuity jokes peppered throughout the adventure.
If you're in the mood for something new, Tadpole Treble is right for you.

...drat, did I just unintentionally make a rhyme? Suddenly it's like a 'discount rhyme warehouse' in here.

Read the Brawl In The Family comic strip at this link: http://brawlinthefamily.keenspot.com/

Here is the trailer for game: 

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