Tiny Barbarian DX (Nintendo Switch) Third Opinion Review

By Josh Di Falco 22.12.2017

Review for Tiny Barbarian DX on Nintendo Switch

Tiny Barbarian DX is the complete package of the title that was developed by StarQuail, but ported over by Nicalis. Featuring the main game, with the added chapters, this Nintendo Switch title provides a wealth of hourly fun. Using the old 8-bit and 16-bit classics as inspiration for the mechanics and art style, this is a cleverly-crafted platformer that cranks up the heat from the get-go. With a chip-tune soundtrack that inspires fast-paced action, this is a worthy title to own for the Nintendo Switch, especially for those looking for a retro feel.

From the opening moments of this booting up on the system, Tiny Barbarian DX gets right into the action with the titular barbarian getting swarmed by countless enemies, without any context or reason. After some harrowing seconds, possibly even a minute, of fighting off these endless swarms, the barbarian finally dies, upon which the title screen appears to start the real game, putting an end to an interesting and wonderful appetiser. Of course, the fighting element is not just the button-masher that the opening sequence tries to hint at.

Screenshot for Tiny Barbarian DX on Nintendo Switch

The basic premise is the Barbarian tied to a post, swarmed by birds. Finding the strength to break free, he embarks on his mission to free his damsel in distress from the greater evils prowling the world. Without getting into spoiler territory, the story does remain simple throughout, without any dialogue or text boxes to rely on. It is just a matter of moving the Barbarian from left to right through sequences of platforming stages. Of course, enemies are aplenty, although rushing through them is part of the fun.

The game itself controls quite well, with the Barbarian responding well to button inputs. While many other games of this style suffer from the occasional "sliding" problems, or button input lag, Tiny Barbarian DX is perfect in this regard. Limited to just a two-button move-set, the unnamed hero only jumps and attacks. Without any upgrades or new weapons to strive for, this puts the entire focus squarely on button-precision by timing the jumps with the attacks of the enemies, while learning when to go in for the kill or when it is best to wait and hold. No attacks can be blocked, and instead they can only be dodged entirely, or in some cases, attacking the incoming projectiles works. This strategy is par for the course in the 2D-sidescrollers of old, so newcomers to these games probably will not find much to appreciate. However, for those pining the classics, Tiny Barbarian DX indeed fills the void.

Screenshot for Tiny Barbarian DX on Nintendo Switch

The stages do not stop, and the enemies are always present, as the Barbarian only knows one speed: fast. There are plenty of heart-pounding moments, especially where the bosses are concerned. Each boss has its unique fight style, and perfectly blurs the line between fighting and platforming. Whether it is against a huge bee in its hive, or taking on a "King Kong"-styled beast, these boss fights are very tough. However, they each have a range of attack patterns that are easy to learn, but hard to implement the return strategy.

However, this is the fun part, and Tiny Barbarian DX implements an extremely helpful checkpoint system that activates on nearly every second or third screen. In addition, it removes the limited lives that the titles of yesteryear relied on for replayability. Here, the Barbarian will die a lot. Nevertheless, the game is equally forgiving, as upon dying, the Barbarian will only have to replay the current screen. This adds to the fun, as taking unmitigated risks and trying new techniques and strategies has little-to-no consequence.

The stages contain plenty of secrets in the form of cracked cubes that contain either coins or the rare point-bonus of a diamond. While these serve no purpose other than being a collectible, the point boosts exist for those who love a high score. Coupled with the high difficulty, trying to speed run through with the highest amount of points possible is an addictive game-loop, and with some practice, one-hour campaigns can be reduced to 30-minute trial runs.

Screenshot for Tiny Barbarian DX on Nintendo Switch

In addition to the campaign, remember the aforementioned "appetiser" that played prior to the main menu screen popping up? Well, that is the Horde mode that can be attempted in a bid to reach a high score, and claim the bragging rights. This further raises the difficulty due to having to remain on the platform in the centre of the screen, as waves of enemies climb up the platform and try to throw the Barbarian off. Horde mode is a fun little mini-game that provides many frantic moments that are equally rewarding when successful. Nevertheless, apart from achieving the high scores, it, like the rest of the game, offers no other incentive to go back and replay, thus losing its overall appeal.

Unfortunately, the sprite-based art style that is meant to be a throwback to the good ol' days is not very pretty to look at, and actually plays against the Barbarian in certain fight sequences due to the clashing colour schemes. While these moments are not very many, it is an added frustration to an already challenging game, but is one that could have been avoided with a more "refined" sprite-based look. Of course, throwing a second player into the mix in the co-op play makes the experience a heap more fun, and equally chaotic and frantic. While having a partner also makes the game a little easier to play through, it's hard not to feel punished as a single-player, as that experience sometimes spikes to extreme difficulties that make it almost seem unfair at times for the individualists.

Screenshot for Tiny Barbarian DX on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Tiny Barbarian DX is a great throwback adventure that tries to blend the best of both worlds, with clever platforming stages and challenging bosses that threaten to destroy many Joy-Cons. Fortunately, the game is very forgiving, by offering unlimited lives and constant checkpoints on nearly every single screen. With shiny diamonds to find, coins to collect, and food to regain health, the campaign is heavily reliant on its point-based system to extend the longevity of this game's playability. If bragging rights for high scores doesn't sound interesting, though, then playing through the campaign once is enough to fill in that longing void for the 8-bit and 16-bit games of old.

Developer

Nicalis

Publisher

Nicalis

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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