Australian biodiversity strikes again in Ty the Tasmanian Tiger, from publisher EA Games. Two pieces of information that can be gleaned from the box for this platformer turn out to be particularly apt: one, that it has as much polish as you would expect from a developer named Krome Studios, and two, for a game with a mascot based on an extinct species of animal, Ty has a similarly limited life span. Easier when compared to other games in its genre, Ty's difficulty is tuned for younger or casual gamers, but it also attempts to appeal to older players, who should still be able to appreciate the quality of the game even if it's a little on the easy side.
The levels have a very high attention to detail that is directed toward making the environment look natural.
Ty's plot revolves around collecting five talismans that will free Ty's fellow Tasmanian tigers from the Dreamtime, where they were trapped a long time ago as a result of trying to stop a cassowary named Boss Cass from sending all mammals to the Dreamtime. To get the talismans, Ty has to jump, bite, and use his collection of boomerangs to recover thunder eggs from the various levels so he can give them to Julius, a koala who can use them to power his talisman-locating invention. Along the way, Ty gets help from Maurie, a crotchety sulfur-crested cockatoo that gives advice and information. Meanwhile, Boss Cass has also been looking for the talismans, although without a device like Julius', he's had a much harder time. Certainly Ty has a standard platform back story, and gameplay is similarly unremarkable at its core. There's not a lot of variety to the action, and aside from scattered exceptions, the game is mostly moving and jumping, with boomerangs and a bite attack providing a small amount of depth. Often, though, obstacles can be passed only in one way, and puzzles also have a single solution.
Although all that probably sounds pretty typical of the platform genre, Ty is at least presented earnestly and doesn't come off as trite. A lot of this feeling comes from observing the effort that was put into the game, which comes across right from the opening cinematic sequence. In-game graphics are on par with the best that this genre has to offer, maintaining a smooth frame rate throughout, and the art direction is uniformly great. Levels are very large and open, with diverging paths and natural-looking layouts that take full advantage of 3D. They're also dense with detail: Land has lots of grass and scrub sticking up; the ocean is full of coral, schools of fish, and tortoises; and rain forests have huge trees dotted with mushrooms and thick ferns. Each object in the levels and the levels as a whole have a very high attention to detail that is directed toward making the environment look natural. There are a few odd floating platforms, and some rock formations seem awfully convenient, but for the most part levels maintain a natural feel. Sound is also well designed, with background noise and sound effects lending to the lifelike environments. The game's music is top notch as well. Each level has a different theme, featuring some Aboriginal instruments as well as some great slide guitar playing.
Ty's main draw is the supporting cast, which includes anthropomorphized wombats, platypuses, frogs, and various other Australian fauna.
Ty's main draw, though, is the supporting cast, which in addition to Julius and Maurie also includes anthropomorphized wombats, platypuses, frogs, and various other Australian fauna. The character designs are nicely done, thanks to some costuming to convey the characters' personalities. For instance, Julius' role as the doddering engineer is enhanced by his wearing glasses, a bow tie, and a workman's apron and his having a pencil behind one ear. It's well executed, if perhaps a little clichÃ©d. The same can be said of the voice acting, for the most part. While Ty himself is little more than a walking collection of Australian idioms like "Ripper!" and "You beauty!" the game's dialogue for the other characters is more involved, well written, and superbly voiced. While their lines function primarily as a gameplay mechanic to bookend tasks that will net Ty a thunder egg, they don't come off as forced or strained, and they complete the personality of the characters.