As it turns out, whenever a child wears underwear on their head to really spiff up their homemade superhero costume, they’re right on the money, at least according to Black Pants Studio, the developers behind Tiny & Big. Underwear serve as the macguffin for the episodic series where Tiny—a gadget minded fellow with a radio for a best friend—chases after Big—the evil thiever of some underwear (which are simply referred to as ‘the pants’ in the game). There’s not much more to the story than that basic setup, and while the sparse narrative may seem lacking, it’s actually part of the game’s well thought out aesthetic. From the writing that reads like something a precocious child would create, to the thick-lined, comic book graphics, and the eclectic soundtrack that ranges from shoegaze ambient to boleros, Tiny & Big is designed to charm. It manages to do so not only through style, but also through the wonderfully enjoyable mechanics that make up the substance.
At its core, the game is a third-person platformer where players perform the conventional pushing and pulling of objects in the world to progress in a level. What makes the game unique is the tools Tiny uses to interact with those objects. Tiny, being the resourceful inventor he is, is equipped with a laser, an unlimited supply of attachable rockets and a rope. The latter two are fairly obvious in their purpose: the rocket can be placed on objects to propel them forward, while the rope has a hookshot-esque attachment at the end that makes it easy for players to pull objects. The laser is an ingenious device that cuts through most anything and effectively allows players to both make movable platforms out of and create paths in the environment.
The exuberance I experienced while cutting things up with the laser is hard to describe. If you’ve ever walked by a game of Jenga and had that creeping feeling rise up in you that makes you want to walk over to that delicate tower and just knock it down, Tiny & Big gives that urge the cathartic release it deserves without any hint of maliciousness. The first stage after the tutorial is located in a canyon and emphasizes this sort of expressive landscaping.
Rock formations are stacked high on each other, daring to be sliced through and tumbled. Loose boulders lay conveniently at ramps, ready to be rocketed away. Cliff faces that aren’t really in the way and actually are kind of hard to cut demand that they be chopped into tiny pieces, cluttering up the floor until it’s impossible for Tiny to move more than a few feet forward before running into the jagged corpse of the canyon. While wonderful, this type of play lessens throughout subsequent levels. It’s not that the rest of the game is bad, it’s just that the levels are much more directed than this first desert experience.
It’s mostly due to the fact that the game is designed around platforming. This results in the levels being built around two basic scenarios: “get to a place” and “get to a place while avoiding objects.” The latter one happens only a few times when Big comes out to harass Tiny by throwing rocks at him. It’s not particularly fun, but it is mercifully uncommon. The former dulls the pure, endorphin-ripe feeling of cutting things, but makes up for it a bit by engaging the logical, puzzle-solving part of the brain.
Players will continue to use their tools to change the environment, but it will be in the service of creating paths towards the end of levels. Even though the way to the end of the stages is made fairly clear by conveniently placed structures and natural formations, the game remains surprisingly open, resulting in the opportunity for players to completely lock their forward progress. Thankfully, it’s a situation that’s easily remedied by a an excellent checkpointing system.
Ideally, this first, short episode in the series is a first course in what will hopefully become a delicious feast of locales, music, art, and environment shifting. As it stands, Tiny & Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers is a wonderfully executed game whose only fault is that it places its main mechanic in a co-starring role when it should clearly be the lead.
Here’s the Rundown:
+ Lovely aesthetic
+ Fantastic music
+ Unique mechanics
– Directed levels take focus off lasers
– Boss battles are dull
8 and 8.5 represent a game that is a good experience overall. While there may be some issues that prevent it from being fantastic, these scores are for games that you feel would easily be worth a purchase.
Tiny and Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers was developed by Black Pants Studio for PC. A copy of the game was provided by the developer to RipTen for review purposes.