GIVEN games developers are on something on an HD upgrade of classic games kick at the moment, it seems only fair to take a look at a uniquely Australian entry to the genre – and it’s hard to get more Australian than a game about a Tasmanian Tiger.
Developed and published by the Brisbane-based Krome Studios, Ty The Tasmanian Tiger HD is an HD re-issue of the 2002 game of the same name. Unlike the 2002 version, which was only for GameCube, PS2 and OG Xbox, the HD version is available on PC, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One and Series X/S and now Nintendo Switch.
Boss Cass (a Cassowary) has banished the titular Thylacine’s family to The Dreaming as part of a plan to wipe out the top end of the food chain, and it’s up to Ty to save the day!
He accomplishes this with the aid of his trusty boomerangs (available in 13 varieties including one with fire powers) and fights the minions of Boss Cass, including goannas, blue tongue lizards and ninja geckos as he seeks to recover missing Thunder Eggs, help his friends, and track down his family.
The environments (there are 17 levels) are actually pretty neat – an outback station, a rainforest with a waterslide-river, that sort of thing – and the voice acting is really good too. It’s nice to hear Australian accents which, while of the ‘broad’ variety, sound genuine and not hammed up for the audience.
The slang is spot-on too, even though a lot of it sounds like it was written by Alf from Home & Away. The controls are straightforward and pretty much what you’d expect, and there’s nothing violent or unsuitable for a younger audience here (an important consideration when you’re a gaming parent).
The big issue with Ty The Tasmanian Tiger is that, despite the HD graphics and tweaks, it’s still essentially an unremarkable, albeit perfectly cromulent, early 2000s 3D platformer.
While I liked the Australian themeing and voice acting, gameplay wise it just wasn’t anything special. Had I been reviewing this back in 2002 (let me get my Von Dutch hat!) I’d probably have said it was a perfectly solid but not groundbreaking 3D platformer in the vein of Crash Bandicoot. Now, it’s a solid but unremarkable 3D platformer in the vein of Crash Bandicoot but looking very much like it was made in 2002.
Having 4K graphics is nice, but when the actual visuals are 20 years old, all you’ve got is a lot of ultra-high definition angle-tastic graphics that aren’t so much a fun retro throwback the way all those 8- and 16-bit games like Scott Pilgrim Vs The World or Streets Of Rage 4 are.
I find myself feeling thoroughly ambivalent about Ty The Tasmanian Tiger HD. On one hand, it’s nothing special gameplay wise, but on the other hand, it is Australian themed and set, and in a good way, and we really don’t see that enough anymore. It’s bright, it’s colourful, it’s inoffensive, and it’s suitable for kids – even if they may not like the two-decade-old graphics.
While not a must-play by any stretch of the imagination, it might still be a good Christmas present for younger gamers – or Australiana aficionados.