By Joseph Puntschart / September 28th, 2016
|Publisher||BitFinity/Sunken Treasure Games|
|Platform||PC (via Steam), Wii U|
|Age Rating||ESRB E|
Recently I’ve been digging into the rhythm game genre, and I’ve realised that I’ve developed a very Marmite relationship with the rhythm game genre, and while some are amazing (IA/VT Colorful), others are good (Guitar Hero), and others, to me, are forgettable (Persona 4 Dancing All Night). This made approaching Tadpole Treble interesting for me as it’s a budget title, and after spending some time with the game I feel that Tadpole Treble falls into the middle camp outlined. The game’s premise is quite simple – you play as a tadpole, and your mission is to get it back to its home after it accidentally gets eaten by a seagull and flown to the top of the mountain. You follow the river down where you go on your adventure. The story is told through a comic book graphical style. You follow the tadpole’s adventures and you do get a sense of attachment to it as the story goes on where the tadpole is put in various situations, which is a really nice touch when the game could have been perfectly functional without it.
The gameplay itself is a rhythm game – you have to play through each song, mainly avoiding obstacles (which act as the notes, usually these are black) in order to not run out of HP. The rhythm setup is interesting – the rivers you journey down are like sheet music, with bars and notes (ie. Middle C, D) represented. You use the arrow keys to move the tadpole up and down keys, which you will need to do in order to pick up various collectables and avoid enemies. The levels start off quite easy near the beginning but get harder later on. For example, in one level you have to avoid the notes while also dodging piranhas which shoot out at you from behind after tracking your location. These higher difficulty settings will require you to manoeuvre quite rapidly through keys to avoid taking damage from the notes. You also have access to a spin attack, which you can use to hit mushrooms and bamboo poles for bonus points and more. This is actually pretty fun to play and adds some much-needed longevity for the game.
The music itself has a fair amount of variety, from classical to chiptune to vocal songs too and is good quality. This is a great achievement considering that all the songs were composed by one person, it’s clear a fair amount of effort has been put into the music and I commend the developer for this. The same can also be said of the simplistic visuals appropriate for its £6.99 ($9.99 US) price tag, with the majority of the drawings only having one or two colours to add depth to the graphics. Settings of note for me include the 8-bit Chiptune Lagoon and Thunder Creek. The music and visuals are charming and help to give Tadpole Treble its unique identity when compared to other rhythm games. The main story mode in general won’t take long to complete if you’re a seasoned rhythm game player, however there are also “Challenge Flies” which you will be able to obtain if you meet a certain requirement in a particular stage. Clues to what these requirements are can be found within the “Bullfrog Grove” you unlock after clearing a certain number of stages. They aren’t always clear though, meaning that some guesswork will be required in order to obtain them.
Tadpole Treble’s longevity lies in its enclosed level editor – where you can make your own simple melodies using the in-game tools. The same mechanics from the main game are present, and also some additional things, like sharp and flat notes. There are also a variety of instruments you can use from piano to guitar, as well as a number of in-game skins you can swap with as well. You can also set the tempo of the song, too. Furthermore, there is the option to load and share custom generated songs via QR codes as well as save up to 12 songs onto your save file. What is here is fairly versatile and is very easy to use and for people that wish to engage with Tadpole Treble’s world more they may be satisfied with it.
There are also leader boards for the campaign songs too, where players can post their scores for the levels online to see how they score compared to others. Furthermore, if you fancy a challenge, you can enter “Concerto” mode, which is an endurance run where you play through all the stages of the story mode in order in one run. I spent nearly five hours in total in Tadpole Treble checking out its content, and it’s clear that there as a good amount, as well as some slight reliance on replay value in order for the player to get the most out of their game. The only notable notable flaw I could find with the game aside from the Challenge Fly criteria being hard to decipher is on the last stage. This last stage is a boss level which plays slightly differently to the rest in that you have to defeat the ship’s computer by spin attacking particular things. It isn’t always obvious what you are meant to spin-attack in order to beat the boss, and I spent more time than I wanted to on that particular stage.
Overall, Tadpole Treble is well-done and is appropriately priced at £6.99 and it deserves credit and success for what it manages to achieve as a budget title. These achievements are simply being a substantial rhythm game with solid gameplay and well-produced soundtrack hiding behind its deceptively simple exterior. For those wanting a budget rhythm game to play this year, Tadpole Treble is a good choice and comes recommended. For those who want more complexity or a bigger budget for their rhythm games, you may be better off looking elsewhere for their rhythm gaming fix.
Review copy supplied by publisher
BitFinitydigitalIndieRhythm GameSteamsunken treasure gamesTadpole TrebleWii U