Ty The Tasmanian Tiger
System: Nintendo Gamecube
Publisher: EA Games
Release: October 2002
Electronic Arts is the biggest third party game publisher in the world today. A good portion of their empire is built on the back of EA Sports, where Madden and NHL sell millions each year and largely dominate the sports genre. But EA makes tons of other games, but doesn’t have one corporate identity to bring they all under one roof like ‘it’s in the game” does for EA Sports.
While Ty The Tasmanian Tiger probably wont be the glue of the non-sports EA gaming empire, it can give EA a more likeable face. EA seems like a big corporate monster, but a likeable Australian tiger could do a lot to soften its image. The major question is whether the actual game could back it up.
As a 3D action platformer, Ty doesn’t really break any new gameplay ground. It can be described as Crash Bandicoot meets Mario 64 meets Banjo Kazooie, but that would be easy and lazy.
The game itself is set up much like Mario 64 and Mario Sunshine, with a large hub world linking to 17 levels. In each of the levels are various things for Ty to collect. The primary item that Ty needs to complete the game are Thunder Eggs, which power some kind of contraption that will help Ty defeat the bad guys and save his relatives. In addition, there are golden gears, opals (like coins from Mario), rainbow shells and about a dozen more.
Ty has a pair of boomerangs at his disposal, which are powered up through the game. They are mainly used as a means to kill enemies and destroy crates, although they are sometimes used in puzzles as well. Perhaps in a sequel the boomerangs can be used in newer, more creative ways.
Actually controlling Ty is easy and intuitive. He moves incredibly fast, which is nice for gamers who like to speed around the levels. Jumping is as important as ever, as is using Ty’s boomerangs. Ty also has a biting maneuver used for a high powered attack at close ranges. Ty gains new abilities later in the game through the new boomerangs, and they add some variety to Ty’s otherwise generic moveset.
Visually, Ty is above average. It looks almost identical across all three major platforms (for which it was released simultameously). The environments are the most impressive part of the graphical package, are each level is a lush wilderness of trees, rivers, grass and many more.
The character models are more simplistic, with a more flat shaded look to some of the enemies and characters rather than detailed textures. I guess this was to keep the framerate high. Don’t be turned off, the characters are still well animated and full of charm, they just aren’t as detailed as the environments.
The cut scenes are not done in real time like many other games these days, instead using a more polished FMV cartoon look and feel, and it really stands out. The cartoons have a non-American feel, and actually seem like they are Australian if that’s possible.
The speech and music in Ty might just be the one aspect that will set the game totally apart from the slew of critter-based action platform adventures invading consoles for the holiday season 2002.
The game has a distant Australian flavor, and it’s most noticeable in the character acting, speech and music. Each of the main characters has
3D Platformers are sometimes bogged down with excessively tedious collecting, and sometimes veer off the road of fun. Ty The Tasmanian Tiger does have a lot of collecting, but there is also an emphasis on the puzzles and using the boomerangs to attack enemies.
The boomerang concept is unique, and it’s cool to have two (one for each hand), but the execution of the boomerangs focus them on attack. It would be a nice twist if the sequel had more puzzles that made unique use of the boomerangs.
Still, Ty is an extremely fun and easy to control game, that would definitely appeal to younger or casual gamers. Hardcore gamers might be turned off by the easy nature of the levels and game in general, but it’s such a joy to play and the characters are so appealing that the short gametime is somewhat forgiveable.
Fun Factor: 7