There was something truly special about the platformers released during the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Banjo-Kazooie, Jak and Daxter, and Sly Cooper were just a few series that were absolutely spectacular, but which, unfortunately, didn’t really survive beyond that golden age of platforming goodness. Considering my love for these types of games, a friend had recommended I play Ty the Tasmanian Tiger a while back, another platforming franchise from that same time period. Admittedly, I didn’t take his advice until fairly recently when I realized that the first game had an HD remaster available on modern consoles.
Ty the Tasmanian Tiger takes place in Australia, the very same place where their developer Krome Studios is based. The story follows Ty on his hunt for the five talismans that will free his family, who were trapped in a place called “The Dreaming” by a villainous cassowary known as Boss Cass. The characters are very charming and often speak using Australian slang that, to my American ear, was both amusing and confusing. (So, “you ripper” is a good thing then?) Graphically speaking, the colors in the HD remaster are very saturated, and to be honest, I might have preferred the original graphics. The game also includes some cutscenes that look really good for the early 2000’s, if not a bit blurry.
Moving on, one thing I really liked about Ty’s moveset was his ability to use both a close-range and long-range attack. The former consists of a truly intimidating bite attack, while the latter refers to his boomerangs. You get many different boomerangs over the course of your adventure, though I will admit that most of them didn’t seem to do anything unique. Ty also gets the ability to glide fairly early on, though his regular jump leaves something to be desired. I often found myself unable to reach certain platforms and ledges because Ty’s jump was just barely not far or high enough. I have played a lot of platformers, and the only other time I remember having such an issue was with Yooka and Laylee when exploring the overworld in The Impossible Lair, so I feel like the problem was more on Ty’s jumping abilities than my own platforming skills.
The game plays like your typical collectathon from that era. Your most important collectible are Thunder Eggs and your most numerous are Opals. (I couldn’t help but mistake the Opals multiple times for the Precursor Orbs from Jak and Daxter. Which would kind of make the Thunder Eggs the equivalent of Power Cells, when you think of it.) Other collectibles include: Golden Cogs, which get you new, high-tech boomerangs, Bilbies (they’re like Jinjos, and you rescue five for a Thunder Egg), and the optional Picture Frames, which can be found in nearly invisible boxes that can be located more easily with the Infrarang. From what I read online, the Picture Frames used to unlock the cutscene gallery and may only get you a trophy or achievement in the modern remaster.
Okay, so I’ll be honest here and say that I felt like the collectibles were a bit excessive in this game. I know many collectathons have multiple different items to find. For example, Banjo-Kazooie had Jiggies, musical notes, Jinjos, cheato pages…okay, so maybe it would be unfair to claim that Ty had more collectibles than other platformers of its time. Nevertheless, that doesn’t change the fact that I sometimes felt kind of overwhelmed by everything I had to search for. So the only question is this: were there really more collectibles in this game…or was my childhood self just a lot more open to finding an insane number of items than my adult self? To be honest, it could very well be the latter.
Aside from collectibles, Ty plays like your typical platformer from that era, with a hub world that leads to all the other levels, with various themes like rainforests, the Australian outback, and snowy mountains. Some levels are kind of linear with branching paths, while some are more open, most notably my favorites, two levels set in the Great Barrier Reef. I feel like these two stages are where the game really shines. They offer the greatest level of freedom, and I just wish more of the levels were set up like this. I really had fun having a huge, open area to explore, and it was the closest I got to feeling those Banjo-Kazooie/Jak and Daxter vibes I had been so longing for. The more “linear” levels aren’t bad, but I did find them to be a bit more frustrating to navigate, especially the ones with the water slides, which meant reaching a higher area could only be done if you located the mushrooms that teleport you back to the beginning of the stage.
Personally, I don’t think Ty the Tasmanian Tiger was quite on par with other platformers of this time period, but that doesn’t mean it was a bad game, either. While I found the game to be very easy, it was also pretty relaxing, too, and I did have a lot of fun with it, despite my complaints. Nevertheless, as I said before, the game was at its best in those two Great Barrier Reef levels. If there had been more stages like that, the game would have rated a lot higher in my mind.
Before I go, I have a question for anyone who has played the sequels. Are they any better than the first game? And did they fix any of the issues I described above? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below!