The TY the Tasmanian Tiger remasters keep a-coming, as per their successful Kickstarter in 2019. We received the first HD re-release in 2020, which our very own Jahanzeb Khan gave a 3.5/5, saying it was “far from being an absolute ripper of a platformer, but it’s still a gnarly beauty all the same”. Next off the conveyor belt comes TY the Tasmanian Tiger 2: Bush Rescue HD. Presumably we’ll be getting the third one too.
I should admit that this is my first encounter with TY the Tasmanian Tiger. I always thought I was a huge fan of 3D platformers back in the ‘90s and ‘00s (I completed Bubsy 3D, which I’ll hold up as a badge of honour) but somehow the whole series blew past me. But while I might not share the nostalgia of those who handed over £190k to the Kickstarter, TY 2 is definitely of its time, and I found myself getting a Readybrek glow from its similarities to games I did love, like Croc, Sly Racoon, Gex and more.
A quick note that this isn’t a Spyro Reignited Trilogy or Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. TY the Tasmanian Tiger 2: Bush Rescue HD is way, way down the other end of the spectrum. It’s a re-release with tweaks, so don’t expect a wild reimagining of your childhood. That’s not a complaint at all: we doubt there’d be an audience for a lavish TY, and – regardless – most of the important stuff has been buffed. We’re getting fidelity improvements like updated shadows, reflections, HD resolutions and 60fps.
All that said, TY the Tasmanian Tiger 2: Bush Rescue HD was still a bit of a shock to our system. It’s graphically ropey, even for a game that’s seventeen years’ old. From the cluttered menus and their criminal use of Comic Sans, all the way to the generic character designs, hard-edged models and their constant clipping, TY the Tasmanian Tiger 2 looks like a budget title. If you’re like us and have never played a TY game before, it’s a decent-sized hurdle for you to get over.
Get over that one, and you whack into the next. Virtually every time a character opens its mouth, we cringed. We probably should have expected the Australian stereotypes, with all their begoras and flamin’ galahs (Krome are an Australian studio, so it makes it hard to criticise how thick it’s ladled on), but it doesn’t excuse the bewildering voice acting. Occasionally it feels like a Drunk History episode, as characters like Gooboo Steve and Clarence the Frog slur and mumble through their lines. It’s nigh-on-impossible to understand what they’re saying. It got us jumping onto the internet to find out if they were professionally acted.
Get past the wobbly presentation, and TY the Tasmanian Tiger 2 is a serviceable platformer that throws the kitchen sink at its gameplay. While it may not look good, and it has some thorny issues around how it plays, the original team at Krome clearly had a lot of fun making it. We expected a copycat platformer, and it has more ambition than that.
TY can jump and hover, and the platforming is reasonably tight. Jumping from ledge to ledge is fast and responsive, and you’ll whip through simpler levels at speed. It’s only when you get into the finer details of platforming that it falls down. TY can grab hold of ledges if he falls a little short, but it doesn’t feel consistent and you’ll often tumble into the abyss when you should have connected. The swimming controls never become natural, with diving in particular being a fudge. But generally TY feels bonza to control.
Fighting is decent, with an Ocarina of Time-style lock-on system and a series of boomerangs to chuck. There’s a rhythm to throwing a boomerang and biting the remaining enemies while your boomerang arcs back. The boomerangs, too, are hugely varied and great fun to cycle through with twenty on offer, evenly split between utility (some can blast through walls, while others can teleport you to crystals) and combat power. You’ll be saving up Opals to purchase the better ones.
But it’s in TY the Tasmanian Tiger 2’s game world that the best stuff lies. You’ll start in Burramudgee, an opening town and hub. From there, you hop into a buggy and travel across a reasonably large map looking for missions. We’d hesitate to call it an open world, as you’re stuck to the roads that connect the areas, but you’ve got a large outback that takes a good fifteen minutes to travel around. It’s littered with Mario Kart-style races, core missions, bosses and side missions. Do enough of them and new missions drop onto the map.
Cruising around in your buggy feels good, and you’re never quite sure what will be waiting for you when you stop at waypoints on the map. Sometimes you’ll be doing something throwaway, like clearing a sound stage of ninjas, while others will be huge maps by themselves, with three or four missions to resolve. Expecting a short battle but instead finding a platforming sandbox means that TY the Tasmanian Tiger 2 can deliver surprises.
There’s an attention deficit to the things you do, too. There are helicopter levels, as you carry water to houses on fire; mech levels where you fire mortars at incoming enemies; submarine sections where you take on waves of sharks; and all the traditional escort missions, swimming missions and bosses. Most of them are hiccup-free, with the flying levels in particular feeling like they could have been a game by themselves. The karting levels, peeled off to be available from the home screen, are also surprisingly well-constructed, with several secret routes.
But giving you a huge area and multiple vehicles has its problems. The world map and particularly the minimap, visible on the game screen, are both terrible and should have been improved with the remaster. Icons and paths are so small, even on a decent-sized screen, that they’re effectively worthless. To access a world map, you will need to press start and switch tabs (it never remembers which screen you left it on), which is a downright pain. If you need to keep checking where you’re going (and sometimes the roads do get complicated), the map is too many button-presses away. And why do you have to start at the furthest point on the map from your buggy? Walking to your vehicle shouldn’t be so arduous.
There’s an old-school feeling to guidance. TY 2 won’t tell you if objectives are low or high on the world map, which gets confusing in areas with height to them. There’s no differentiation in the game world between missions you’ve done and missions you haven’t, so you will be rocking up to areas that you’ve already cleared. And you’ll sometimes have the loosest of ideas of what to do, with no waypoints or clear instructions. We lost count of the times that we bumbled into an objective.
But TY the Tasmanian Tiger 2 is never difficult, so you will get there eventually. We crossed the finish line with barely a life lost, and we only had to replay a kart level once to get the hallowed first place. It’s not ideal for younger players – the convoluted levels with zero waypointing and poor maps put paid to that – but it might work with you as navigator, nudging them in the right direction. If it’s all too easy, there is a Hardcore mode, offering less health, more damage and more enemies.
We don’t regret our time with TY the Tasmanian Tiger 2: Bush Rescue HD at all, and it’s far from the time capsule that we expected. It looks ropey, and – sure – the remastery only pulls that further into focus. But it throws back the doors on its game world and lets you explore and choose missions at your own pace. That’s as bold now as it must have been seventeen years ago. TY the Tasmanian Tiger 2: Bush Rescue HD may not hold a candle to a Ratchet, Crash or Spyro, but this is a little ripper that’s worth a Captain Cook.
You can buy TY the Tasmanian Tiger 2: Bush Rescue HD for £23.49 from the Xbox Store for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S