[Game Review] Tadpole Treble

From the creators of the Smash Bros webcomic “Brawl in the Family”, BitFinity Games brings in Tadpole Treble: a cute, musical rhythm adventure game.




Tadpole Treble is a music adventure ryhthm game in the tradition of Donkey Konga, Vib Ribbon, PaRappa The Rapper and Patapon. You play as a young tadpole named Baton as she attempts to make her way home past treacherous landscapes and fearsome bosses.  Each stage has its own musical theme, from 8-bit Chiptunes to jazz to Showtunes. Tadpole Treble was kickstarted for and has been currently released for the Wii U.

Graphics

Seeing the screenshots for the game at first glance, I wondered if it was a game made especially for children because of the cute and simple promotional art. Gameplay is divided by levels, and advancing further, you notice that the levels are themed and explore different kinds of weather and terrain, even the face of your own tadpole changing every now and then. It’s very nature inspired. You play as a tadpole all throughout, trying to find your way back to the tadpole pond, with references to musical symbols such as the staff and a coral shaped as the G clef, having it move as if you were sight reading on a musical score; even some other symbols such as a repeat sign appearing in the menu, explaining the name of the game quite well. Tadpole Treble uses minimal words and tells a short story via comic panels.

When there are words, such as when it first teaches you what to eat and avoid, it may be hard to read for other audiences especially if you play the game in a window rather than when you play fullscreen, so I suggest you play it in fullscreen.

The intricate background designs of each level compensate the simple art you see in the “scenes” or the comic panels as shown above, as well as the characters. It also may be said that there is a lot to focus on while playing, however it greatly challenges your sensory-motor skills with the constant need to be alert and aware of what’s coming at you. The backgrounds change every now and then, although I can’t really properly look at them because if I look elsewhere, my life bar is surely going to die down. 😅




Controls

There really are no explicit instructions for the game, only using space bar to start the game and the up and down arrows on your keyboard. The tadpole can whip bamboo sticks and other things with its tail with either the space bar, enter, or the left arrow key. I’m not sure which else can be used, but you get the idea– simple controls!

Sound

This is a musical game and each level gives a different kind of musical experience. Some songs remain instrumental, while some have lyrics sung by other characters. The music itself is cute, my own favorite being Midnight Bayou, a jazzy show tune song.

gameplay3

There also is an option for players to create their own compositions which I like. Each sound effect made after a tail whip can complement the music depending on your ability to hit the controls in beat. I personally think it would be a lot fun to have popular/classical songs on a special level, too.

Gameplay

gameplay

I mentioned that I initially thought Tadpole Treble was geared toward kids, and I was wrong. There’s actually a whole lot to focus on while playing, such as avoiding obstacles and simultaneously collecting pink bubbles, shiny things, and food that replenishes your health. Not to say that it’s not for kids, just that it’s more challenging than expected. It’s a rhythm game that almost reminded me of the PSP game “Patapon” and reminded me how bad my sense of rhythm has gotten. Each level promises a new concept, either a singing tadpole, swatting flies, or being chased by piranhas, which always changes it up and doesn’t let the player get bored.

Since new elements are added each level, there’s a little more to explore than meets the eye despite the limited gameplay. Some puzzle elements are added that you will have to figure out on your own, which I think is really clever albeit frustrating, cause it took me a lot of retries before I figured them out.

My favorite character is a bullfrog you’ll meet along the way called Etude. Not only does he look extremely cute, he is pretty much your mentor. You start off shaky at the start, trying to get a feel of how the game is played, and you start to get better at it. Once you get a better hand at the game’s mechanics, he’ll teach you more about the game and other things you didn’t think you could do. You’ll unlock more extras and learn about other game modes.

Tadpole Treble can be quite addictive therefore enjoyable. There’s a good and subtle moral lesson at the end, it really depends how you see it. It’s a really interesting concept, and I was pulled to it mainly because of the music influence. It’s not a very long game, and I can’t really say I’m attached to my little tadpole character, but I’m glad I played it. I was able to finish it in a day.

Rating: 7 / 10

Buy Tadpole Treble for the PC here or on Steam! It’s coming to the Wii U on August 11.

Been a long time since I last posted, but I finally got a good laptop running (thanks Asus!) and started with the last game I’ve been trying to review (aka this one).

I want to thank Erik Johnson for introducing me to this wonderful game, and Michael Taranto for being so gracious in helping me with this when my laptop had problems.




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