Platformers were once so plentiful that players had no right to complain, and during the sixth console generation gamers had their pick regardless of whether they owned an Xbox, GameCube, or PlayStation 2. Nowadays, despite the brilliant tech on hand, platformers aren’t exactly abundant on Xbox One and it’s really become a case of beggars can’t be choosers.
Earlier this year genre fans were treated to a remaster of SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – a game that received hardly any fanfare during its own time, but the rehydration allowed it to become one of the most well-received releases of 2020. Perhaps it’s a supply and demand illusion here, and right now the demand for the 3D platformer continues to be high, with players stoked to accept anything.
TY the Tasmanian Tiger was the breakout release of Australian game development studio, Krome. Putting them on the map, the studio would later go on to do some rather cool things, such as the oft-forgotten Spyro the Dragon reboot trilogy in the late 2000s. TY was released during a time when the 3D platformer genre had all but saturated, and so even back then there wasn’t anything remarkable about the game purely from a gameplay standpoint. It was instead the uniquely Aussie flavour that allowed it to stand out from the competition, enough to warrant two sequels on the same console generation. You know you’ve made it big if you manage to complete a trilogy on the same hardware. A mix of Crash Bandicoot and Super Mario 64, the original TY the Tasmanian Tiger had its charm and personality, but even as a 3D platformer it delivered an enjoyable albeit derivative experience.
In 2020 the game was remastered for modern platforms, and Xbox One gets to join in on the outback shenanigans a little later than other systems. Perhaps it would have made more sense to package all three TY games as one remastered bundle, but right now they’ve only done the original, and even so this remaster effort is a bit of a bludger. The graphics have certainly been cleaned up, but they end up highlighting the flaws of the visual design more than anything else. On the original Xbox, the blur and resolution masked imperfections, but on 4K HD Xbox One resolutions all the flaws and faults are under a microscope. The vibrancy of the art and presentation is most certainly there, but it sadly feels like a rushed resolution polish, unlike the tremendous effort that went into rehydrating the aforementioned SpongeBob game.
As a platformer TY the Tasmanian Tiger manages to deliver something novel even in 2020, perhaps more so than it did even during its own time. It’s a collectathon platformer to be sure, but the gameplay variety is still interesting and fun, especially as it is situated in the bush. The titular hero is armed with two homing boomerangs as his primary attack; this core mechanic serves its purpose well in the overall game design. Levels are fun platforming romps that rarely ever outstay their welcome. There’s nothing hugely innovative here, but it doesn’t really matter when it’s all fun. It follows the design template of Super Mario 64 with some of the tighter action of Crash Bandicoot.
While the graphics feel quite dated even with the remaster polish, the game actually holds up really well especially when it comes to control and gameplay mechanics. There’s rarely ever a frustrating moment, and even the 3D camera is cooperative for the most part, with things only occasionally getting messy especially when navigating tighter spaces. It’s hard to fault TY too much here, especially when the 3D platforming is so wholesome and inviting. It functions as it should and there’s heaps of fun to be had for genre fans seeking something different.
What shines about TY the Tasmanian Tiger is just how deadset the game is in its Australian presentation, almost making it the fair dinkum Crocodile Dundee of video games. It’s all in good spirit, and the best part is just how comprehensive the game is in utilising the ever-extensive repertoire of Australian slang and colloquialisms. It draws upon terms and expressions likely to be obscure even to those living Down Under, and while a lot of the words generally make sense in context of the sentence, we reckon it may be worth having an Australian Edition Urban Dictionary on hand.
As a platformer featuring an animal mascot, TY the Tasmanian Tiger leaves absolutely no stone unturned when it comes to featuring an all-star case of Australian wildlife, with the notorious deadly creatures serving as the perfect antagonists for a platformer – everything from koalas to cockatoos, and of course the lovable kangas. Drop bears? Well, unfortunately this mythical outback creature didn’t appear until the third TY the Tasmanian Tiger game. Hopefully the rest of the original trilogy gets a remaster effort down the line.
TY the Tasmanian Tiger HD on Xbox One definitely feels like a product of its time, both from a game design standpoint and especially in its true blue, albeit stereotypical, depiction of all things Straya, but it’s no dramas really. Back then and even now, with all the remastering bells and whistles in place, the game is far from being an absolute ripper of a platformer, but it’s still a gnarly beauty all the same.