Tadpole Treble Encore (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Jenny Geist 21.01.2021

Review for Tadpole Treble Encore on Nintendo Switch

The original Tadpole Treble was an offbeat rhythm game developed by Bitfinity for Wii U and PC. It focused on Baton, a lost tadpole who must find her way home by swimming through a string of musical levels designed after actual sheet music. Despite the title releasing to critical acclaim, many slept on it for launching during the Wii U's dying year. Fortunately, the game has made a grand reprise with Tadpole Treble: Encore, now on Nintendo Switch. This rerelease offers the same delightful experience as before with some shiny new content on top. Let's take a deep dive into Tadpole Treble: Encore.

Unlike most rhythm games, Tadpole Treble focuses on avoiding notes rather than hitting them. While this may be different from genre standards, a melodic aptitude is still quite necessary. Baton automatically swims forward, so players must carefully maneuver the tadpole up and down, dodging hazards that correspond to each area's actual notation. Properly swimming along the ups and downs of the music allows to feel at one with the beat, especially when trying to collect useful items placed throughout each level. Baton only moves one half-note at a time, so the controls may take getting used to, but mastery is still possible with plenty of practice.

The package is tied together by a simple story about Baton the tadpole being separated from her family, stopping at nothing to travel through Opus Island and find her way home. Despite the simple setup, plenty of cute, funny, and even heartwarming moments are spread throughout the adventure. Bitfinity founder Matthew Taranto created the critically acclaimed webcomic Brawl in the Family, so it's no surprise that the art is fantastic as well. Opus Island is brought to life with a vibrant, storybook-esque art style that looks gorgeous, especially in handheld mode. The team's passion really shines through with how many little touches, gags, and references are hidden throughout the world.

Screenshot for Tadpole Treble Encore on Nintendo Switch

A rhythm game is only as good as the music it contains however, and Tadpole Treble: Encore has an excellent set of tracks. Each of the 13 levels are essentially their own Disneyland attraction, taking players on three-minute-long excursions through shifting set pieces synched to whimsical music. Each of them combines a different location, musical genre, and gameplay mechanic to fully set itself apart from the rest. Whether being serenaded by a fellow tadpole in the romantic Midnight Bayou or dodging a school of predators in the jazzy Piranha Jungle, no two levels feel the same. The handful of vocal tracks are definitely the highlight, as they add so much character and humor to their respective stages. Fans of the original release will even be treated to a brand-new level, and without spoiling too much, it expands upon one of the weaker areas of the original release with a delightfully silly track.

Screenshot for Tadpole Treble Encore on Nintendo Switch

While the main story can be completed in around two hours, the true meat comes from mastering these levels and their many objectives. Beyond simply clearing each level for the first time, it is also possible to try to reach an S-Rank, find all 100 collectible bubbles, or complete a secret "Challenge Fly" objective. There is even a reward for reaching an "F-Rank," which requires completing a track as poorly as possibly without actually dying… a surprisingly difficult feature! These challenges add hours of playtime, giving players plenty to do beyond just the main story.

Each of these challenges feel so rewarding to complete, both due to the inherently fun gameplay, and the plethora of rewards. For example, reaching S-Rank in a level unlocks its respective track in the music player for easy listening. Collecting bubbles unlocks a variety of bonuses, the best of which is the bestiary, a book full of witty and detailed descriptions about nearly every species in the game. Clearing an F-Rank challenge even unlocks developer commentaries, where Matthew Taranto and Michael Taranto give interesting and often humorous insight into the game's design. While these rewards don't generally affect the gameplay, their inclusions go a long way in fleshing out the world of Tadpole Treble even more.

Screenshot for Tadpole Treble Encore on Nintendo Switch

Sadly, one downgraded element holds Tadpole Treble: Encore back from being the true definitive edition of the game, that being Composition Mode. This editor allows players to design their own levels, music and all. In the original release, these creations could even be shared with anyone on the internet using a QR code. However, as the Switch has no built-in camera feature, there is no way to share levels in this rerelease. This change single-handedly removes any drive to design levels, as the only people who would be able to play them are local friends. While this doesn't affect the base experience in any way, it's still a shame that this side mode had to be stripped down.

Screenshot for Tadpole Treble Encore on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Tadpole Treble: Encore feels like a long-lost Nintendo IP from the SNES era. It takes a simple idea and runs (or swims) with it to the fullest extent, providing a large variety of music, locales, and mechanics within its relatively short runtime. There is much love and passion present in nearly every facet of the game, so much so that it's easy to overlook the few flaws that it has. Whether being a fan of rhythm games or not, Tadpole Treble: Encore is a joyful experience that's absolutely worth diving into.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


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