Due to some timeline issues with university and other focuses in my life, I wasn’t able to enjoy Ty the Tasmanian Tiger when it initially released back in 2002. Which is a shame, because it might have been a decent single player title on my Gamecube, a console that I never truly appreciated until it’s life cycle ended. With Ty, we’ve been able to enjoy yet another game that comes to us from an Australian development studio (Krome Studios), and have another peek into some wild and fun vernacular and characters of which we otherwise wouldn’t be aware. Much like STONE, Ty the Tasmanian Tiger is full of animals, ideas and concepts that seem indigenous to Oceania, and I love seeing the representation here on the Switch. Keeping up with the remaster that came in 2016, Nintendo owners (and other consoles) are now prepared to enjoy a romp through the outback with Ty the Tasmanian Tiger HD.
Ty’s mission is simple: get his family back. There’s this evil character named Boss Cass, who is a massive cassowary that’s hellbent on world domination. Ty comes from a long line of Tasmanian Tigers, all of whom possess boomerang skills and fight for the side of good, but everyone but Ty gets kidnapped and sucked into a parallel world called The Dreaming. Ty is an orphan for a while until he’s clued into what became of his real family by Nandu Gilli, a bunyip, and then is aided by Maurie the cockatoo (who becomes a sort of Navi-esque guide) and Julius, a koala scientist. Julis believes that five talismans that Boss Cass was hunting for is the key to both stopping her plot and also saving Ty’s family, so we need to hunt down Thunder Eggs to power Julius’ machine. If all of that was weird and confusing, congratulations: you definitely understand the plot. Armed with a couple boomerangs and a mean set of chompers, Ty is off to save the Outback and the planet at large from one evil, giant bird.
For all intents and purposes, Ty the Tasmanian Tiger is a 3D action platformer that should and will remind you of Super Mario 64, which is the measuring stick that nearly all 3D action platformers are compared to on a Nintendo console. Ty has to collect a great many items while exploring around the different areas of Australia, which is standard fare for a game of this calibre. There are tiny animals to rescue (usually five a level), Golden Cogs to discover, Thunder Eggs to find and general coin-like pickups to get so that you can earn extra lives. Ty has a powerful bite attack (which is connected to a fantastic sound byte) as well as boomerangs. Initially, Ty has one, quickly gets a second for dual-wielding bonuses, but the fun doesn’t stop there. Julius can invent new elemental boomerangs if you get enough Golden Cogs and even create “techno-rangs” after a certain point. Besides his intense arsenal, Ty can swim (not well) and has a gliding after jump, which is pretty short-lived but still useful in most situations.
To touch upon the HD moniker, I think that Krome Studios did a fantastic job of updating Ty the Tasmanian Tiger to look good on modern consoles. While still maintaining some charm of how the original models were rendered, everything is a sharp uptick in the game’s quality. The colours are more vibrant and pop significantly stronger. The rough edges of the polygonal world have been smoothed out, giving a more animated feel to both enemies and friends alike. Some items look like they were completely redrawn: I think Julius underwent some cosmetic surgery that makes him appear plumper and healthier, a more prominent koala than before. The lush backgrounds, which range from the jungle lands to the cavernous depths and some gorgeous nighttime scenes, are cleaner, giving a much better perspective for players who are neck deep in this thing. Truly, in the sense of the HD, the graphics are superior in this modern version in every way, and the only reason to delve into the old ones are nostalgia OR to access the sequels (which haven’t yet been updated).
As for the gameplay itself, Ty the Tasmanian Tiger plays incredibly well. The controls are tight and respond well, and the evolution of the gameplay is natural and coherent. You can’t glide until you get a second boomerang (so that you have makeshift wings), and the different elemental and techno-rangs allow you to gradually access newer and newer locations, driving you closer to the end point. Enemies, mostly, are aggressive, but nowhere near impossibly dangerous. Indeed, for the most part, you really get the sense of “tiger” out of Ty. He’s the apex predator, even against larger boss animals (like a massive Boar that you meet early out), and he’s in control of his own destiny. In terms of sheer gameplay mechanics, Ty shines brightly and is a solid beacon of good ideas put into play with proper execution.
My biggest complaint, bar none, is the camera. There are a lot of ways to utilize camera angles in a 3D action platformer, and it never feels like Ty really gets to where you need it to be to not get crazy motion sick. The camera has a free moment, and it jerks around like crazy the second you move as it desperately tries to recalibrate the better angle for you to view the game. Because Ty moves so quickly and fluidly, you end up seeing so much passing by you in a blur of wild swings and sudden perspective changes. This was a game where I was grateful that the level layout was so intuitive, because there were multiple times where I had to stop and breathe to prevent myself from getting full on nausea. It’s such a pretty game to look at, and the writing is fantastic (I love all the Australian vernacular!) but holy crap was I ever in need of a lie down after a long play.
Yet this is also a game with a good amount of replay value. While there aren’t multiple endings or too many secrets to find (there are definitely some, just not too many), Ty the Tasmanian Tiger HD is inherently fun. It’s got that level of whimsy about it that comes from trying to hunt down a whole bunch of collectibles that you may or may not be able to easily grab. You spot one Golden Cog right at the beginning that you need to double back and get later, and it’s only that much more enticing when you figure out how important the Cogs are. The game opens up naturally, inviting you in and showcasing one segment at a time, balancing new important targets and really feeding into the amazing James Bond level of gadgets. A flaming boomerang, an electrified boomerang, a boomerang that warps space and time, an exploding boomerang…they’re all dead useful, at least once, and several are used a bunch to great effect. When you begin to see the sequences and methodologies, you start to plot out how to run it better and faster next time. This is one of those inherently fun titles that offers serious opportunities for better future visits, and there’s always a different way to approach the Outback.
Overall, it really was a lot of fun to experience Ty’s adventure, though I hope that I can figure out some way to prevent the speed of some modern games from totally messing up my enjoyment. It’s cute, it’s funny, and it really handles well, and I believe that fans from way back when should come give the Tiger another go: he looks much better this time around.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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TY the Tasmanian Tiger HD Review
Gameplay - 8/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Replay Value - 8/10
User Review( votes)
A modern classic gets a great HD visual boost and comes to roost on current gen consoles with plenty of enjoyment for gamers old and new.