Tiny and Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers has actually been out for over a month now, but seeing as the game is being flogged on Steam for $5.99 at the moment, I figured a review was appropriate. By the time you read this, the sale will probably almost be over. So if you’re running out of time, then I’ll fast forward to the end right now, and tell you to go and buy it if you like quirky platformers. Seriously, you won’t be disappointed. It’s not quite another Braid, or LIMBO, but it is definitely a worthwhile experience and at that price-point it’s a no brainer.
Tiny and Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers bucks the trend of indie developers reverting to 2D worlds when creating platformers. There are dozens I could mention here, but the most popular at the moment is probably Cave Story. These games tend to channel the nostalgia of early NES and SEGA games, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But I for one was glad to see an indie developer not embracing the standards of 15 years ago, and instead choosing to make the most of modern technology, creating a beautiful 3D world complete with its own strong visual style and ambitious gameplay mechanics.
The story behind Tiny and Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers is really straightforward, so don’t expect any depth or inspired revelations to come through as the tale unfolds. You play Tiny as he chases Big through various levels. Big constantly throws stuff at you using telekinesis, but fortunately you’re really great at jumping. You also have a bunch of toys to play with, including a grappling hook, laser beam and rockets. The laser beam is totally awesome, and can cut through pretty much anything. Slicing and dicing your way through the environment is an important component of the core gameplay, and really allows you to navigate the various levels any way you like. While there are set paths through each level, you’re encouraged to get creative as you proceed through the canyons, crypts and desert plain obstacle courses.
The controls are solid, and importantly, you are granted an impressive degree of precision with the laser thanks to the mouse. The middle mouse button fires a rocket, and the right mouse button shoots off your grappling hook. It all works quite seamlessly, and you have an impressive variety of options that are all easily accessible.
Things get a little more challenging later on, which would be fine, except the physics systems are a little loose to really facilitate the difficulty curve. The controls just don’t feel quite tight enough for the objectives you are expected to complete towards the end, but this only becomes a problem in the very last stretch of the game.
One of Tiny and Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers’ greatest qualities is its offbeat humour. From the character design to the sound effects and art direction, the game oozes character, and immediately brings to mind the cartoon series Adventure Time. This makes the world that much more fun to revel in. Your ears are also in for a treat, because the soundtrack is absolutely phenomenal. There are six levels, and each one contains collectable tapes to be played in the game’s radio. The Tropicália-tinged soundtrack is infectious and almost worth the $5.99 reduced price tag on its own.
Tiny and Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers is a gem that with a little polishing could have been a real indie classic. The unique atmosphere, fun gameplay and excellent soundtrack make it well worth playing for anyone who is into platformers that don’t take themselves too seriously.