Tiny & Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers
Developer: Black Pants Studio Release Date: June 19, 2012
Publisher: Black Pants Studio ESRB Rating: N/A
Platforms: PC (Steam), Mac MSRP: US$9.99

 

 

I had a very weird experience with Tiny & Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers. I highly anticipated getting my hands on it for over two months, and when I got it, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. I instantly downloaded the game to my laptop – only to realize that the game requires a three-button mouse. I downloaded it to my inferior desktop and began to play. As I blew through the first hour or so (the first two stages of six), I could not stop thinking things like “I’m going to give this a near-flawless review!” “This is one of the best games I’ve played all year!” “If continued right, this could be the next big indie hit like BIT.TRIP and Super Meat Boy!” And then I got to the boss stage, and I began to see the game in a new light. But perhaps I’m jumping the gun a bit.

The premise of Tiny & Big is simple and humorous. You control Tiny, who the game describes as “the rightful owner of the pants,” as he goes after Big, who apparently stole the pants and is a “big meanie.” It turns out these pants have mystical powers and are all that Tiny’s grandfather left to him, so it is imperative that he gets them back. To do so, he has three tools: the Laser, the Rocket, and the Rope.

The laser can be used to cut almost any object at any angle. Seriously, over 95% of the game world is destructible, and it is fantastic. You can cut pillars to make bridges, cut flying boulders to remove danger, and much more. The second item, the rocket, has a much more limited use. The rocket can be used to push any object, and is usually used on objects that need to become bridges, or objects that you need to push out of the way after cutting them. Finally, the rope is the opposite of the rocket, and can be used for pulling objects.

The game is told with an endearing, comic-book cel-shaded style, only made possible with a clear amount of effort. The work pays off big time, as the game is beautiful in screenshots, and jaw-dropping in motion. The presentation is further enhanced by a wonderful soundtrack, which is a collaboration of many different indie bands. A copy of the soundtrack was graciously provided by the developer, and I can easily see why it is being sold separately. The variation is astounding, yet it somehow manages to always capture the feel of the game.

The exploration levels, which make up roughly two thirds of the game, are absolutely fantastic. You explore a seemingly-open world as you attempt to reach a set goal. Given the three tools, you can alter the world in any way you want in order to reach your goal. Even though there are definitely only a few ways to achieve at least a couple of puzzles, the game gives of the impression of having unlimited solutions and complete free reign. You may take the world at your own pace (for the most part), taking in the wonderfully-constructed world.

Unfortunately, this excellence is what seems to set Tiny & Big up to fall when it comes to boss stages. The pressure of constantly attempting to get to a certain place very quickly while also defending yourself from death is incongruent with the rest of the game. Against the first boss, for example, you have to push rocks to move forward, while also keeping an eye above you so as to watch out for any rocks flying your way. Once you get lucky and destroy them in a way that doesn’t mess up your carefully laid plan, you can take a couple of steps forward to continue your plan, before the entire cycle repeats. That is, of course, assuming you don’t die.

The main gameplay seems to be built on the idea of taking your time, which is wonderful, yet can cause highly frustrating scenarios come the boss battles. I will be completely honest and point out that after each stage, it ranks you against other people who played the game, and based on those rankings, I am in the vast minority with having significant problems with these boss battles. I just want it known that the possibility is there for frustration, even though you’ll feel right at home again in the exploration sections.

As I mentioned, Tiny & Big ranks you on a number of factors, which means that there is high replayability based on the leaderboards. Extra replayability is also found through the numerous achievements  as well as the various collectibles. The base game, lasting six stages, will take you roughly two hours to play through, but you could spend up to ten or so just exploring the world, trying to do everything in the best way possible.

I truly want to stress that my own negative impressions with this game were effectively limited only to the boss battles, which others seem to not have problems with. For $10, I give this game one of the highest of recommendations, although I feel my rating must reflect my personal struggles with it. This is one game that definitely must be in your Steam library.

 

Graphics: ★★★★★★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
Gameplay: ★★★★★★★½☆☆
Audio: ★★★★★★★★★☆
Balance/Difficulty: ★★★★★★★½☆☆
Intangibles: ★★★★★★★★★☆
Overall: ★★★★★★★★½☆

So how does our rating system work? Read more here.

Full disclosure: This game was reviewed using a copy provided by Black Pants Studio.

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