Tiny Hands Adventure for the Nintendo Switch
BlueSunset Games had quite the task on their hands when they looked to release Tiny Hands Adventure on the Nintendo Switch. Registered on the Nintendo eShop as a platformer, action and adventure game with puzzle elements, it joined a wealth of other games vying for the top spot in that genre. Standing out from the crowd in the sea of indie releases of late is a tall order, and I was keen to see whether it would rise to the occasion or fall just short.
After a brief tutorial into the basic actions of Tiny Hands, which involved jumping, rolling and attacking, I found myself at the Chamber of Trials. Here, Lady Florella, a fairy in charge at the chamber, is informed of one of Borti’s major life concerns. A dinosaur that suffers with short arms, and – you guessed it – tiny hands, is disappointed in his goalkeeping performances when playing football with his friends. It is from this point that Borti, the main protagonist in this rather wacky and absurd storyline, embarks on a journey through the various trials to receive the promised tools to improve his efforts in goal.
Throughout the 20 or so levels that Borti explores, you are tasked with collecting the five gemstones scattered through the land as well as the elusive orange stone which will later unlock the guardian ‘boss’ battle. These gemstones can be found in a variety of locations, high up in buildings or straight in front of you as you run along. Collecting all five gemstones will result in the unlock of a more challenging mode, however this is not essential to advancing the story. The aforementioned orange item is key to any success you will have in the game and it never tends to be too difficult to achieve.
Of course, it wouldn’t be as simple as to collect gemstones scattered around – no platformer is. Whilst traversing the land, you will be presented with many different obstacles to halt your best efforts. From flying bees to rolling barrels and much in between, Borti has a lot to contend with before he can receive the tools needed to transform him from a lower league goalkeeper to a premiership shot-stopper. All of the obstacles are those you will have seen in some capacity in other platformers, however they have been executed well here. Similarly, the expected inclusion of pick-ups are here – you can break boxes to receive more lives or break the wrong one and you can lose a life. Games like Spyro the Dragon and Crash Bandicoot spring to mind, with much inspiration having been taken from these classic titles.
First and foremost, it is important to acknowledge that the game looks good. The vibrant, colourful backdrop is excellent in both handheld and on screen, and as each world was unlocked, I was keen to see what it entailed. The interaction between character and environment was also indicative of the scenery, with the more visually ‘icy’ elements of the level becoming more difficult to manouvere the dinosaur around. It was also through the presentation of the game that it showcased some of its more creative moments, with the ‘Comic Land’ level being a particular highlight. The way in which the landscape was altered and the art style adapted to suit was great to see.
As much as the graphical elements were inventive and interesting, unfortunately the soundtrack was not. Although each level had its own unique music score befitting of the area you were travelling through, the music was both repetitive and a little boring. A couple of minutes into the level and I was muting the sound in favour of something, or anything, else. In doing so, it meant I missed out on the audio used for interactions between characters and the environment, something I also was a little disappointed by. Since starting the review writing process, I have become more acutely aware of how sound can influence and support the beauty in a game – unfortunately, the audio in Tiny Hands Adventure does not.
Another area of importance that I have come to value greatly is the camera angle. From the ‘Tele broadcast’ angle in FIFA to the cockpit in Formula 1, how you view these games is personal to the individual. The more customisation you have, the better the experience is. In Tiny Hands Adventure, unfortunately, you have none. The camera angle is fixed at all times and the game decides your view at any one time. When it works, it is very similar to how I would have set it myself. When it doesn’t, however, you are left with obscured views and missed opportunities. This is something I think would need reconsidering to provide an optimum gaming experience for the gamer. What BlueSunset Games have done, to their credit, is experiment with the camera angle depending upon the level design. Some levels are top-down, some are side on and others are forward facing. The variety on offer is an excellent inclusion and one I enjoyed experiencing.
Hopefully this comes as no shock that I believe the visuals is where this game shines most. There is lots to see and all has been executed with clean lines and bright colours. It has a feel about it of Croc: Legend of the Gobbos, originally released on PsOne, and this is welcomed with open arms by me.
Similarly, the worlds available to explore in Tiny Hands and the manner in which they have been designed are varied and creative, meaning I was never bored of a particular scene or playstyle.
The phrase ‘style over substance’ springs to mind when considering my likes and dislikes. The faults I have with Tiny Hands Adventure are such they could be addressed in a patch, and the end result would be a well-polished, visually pleasing and mechanically sound adventure game. In its current form, there are inconsistencies with character movement and glitches which can have a negative impact on the overall experience. For example, I found that Borti would move without input from me on a number of occasions. Of course, he only chose to do this when the result of said movement was death. Similarly, there were times where the game would not register my jump and I would fall, again, to my death. Upon restarting from a checkpoint, and making my way to my last resting place, the same would happen again – even though I knew I had previously had an issue there and was planning ahead accordingly.
Although there are shortcomings, and areas for improvement, I do believe Tiny Hands Adventure has a lot to offer. With a patch or two that addresses character movement and controller input, Tiny Hands could be the platforming game the developers had hoped it would be. Retailing at $7.99, even if these issues weren’t to be ironed out, I still think it is worth your consideration – maybe settling for a sale reduction would be best.
Reviewed by Shaun Hughes on the Nintendo Switch, provided by BlueSunset Games.