Tiny Hands Adventure (PC) Review
Nice variety in locales and gameplay style
Bright and engaging art direction
Frustrating gameplay and camera
Story rides the line between silly and too silly
A Tiny Amount of Fun
It may be hard to imagine, but there was a time when platformers were the genre, with heavyweights like Mario, Sonic, and Rayman consistently churning out games that were challenging, well-designed, and fun. As technology developed at a lightning-quick pace, game developers were able to push the limits of what games were able to achieve, and thus the humble platformer gradually took a backseat to persistently popular genres like first-person shooters and open-world RPG epics.
More recently, the genre has seen somewhat of a revival, thanks to great games like Yooka-Laylee, Sonic Mania Plus, and even the fantastic Crash Bandicoot: N-Sane Trilogy. This trend has not gone unnoticed by Blue Sunset Games, developers of Tiny Hands Adventure.
Ostensibly a love-letter to its forefathers, Crash Bandicoot in particular, Tiny Hands Adventure is a platformer that seeks to take that same gameplay and combine it with their own brand of cutesy, kid-friendly aesthetic.
You assume the role of Borti, a t-rex who has but one dream: to have longer arms so he can be a better soccer goalie. This leads him to Florella, a fairy who has the ability to grant Borti his wish, but for some reason wants him to defeat five guardians and prove he’s worthy of longer arms. With great power comes great responsibility. Borti deems this odd request reasonable and thus the twenty-level adventure begins.
The gameplay, as stated above, is very reminiscent of a certain bandicoot, but somehow much worse. I found that simple things like jumping and crouching under obstacles were frequently unresponsive, and I couldn’t help feeling that I would have more fun just playing the original recipe instead of this facsimile. Besides wrestling with the controls and camera, which obscured obstacles far too often, there was little to no challenge to speak of, which makes sense when considering that this game is primarily aimed at children. For that demographic, there may be more fun to be had here, especially compared to the punishing challenge of games like Crash, but it still felt lacking.
The story starts out silly enough, but becomes full-blown saccharine when you beat the bosses, who then want to befriend you. Again, children may appreciate it, but most adults will be rolling their eyes sky high. Despite this, it is hard to not be taken in by Borti’s simple charm. His character design, from the ball cap down to his titular tiny hands, is bright and fun to watch in action.
He manages to stand out among the many varied locales, even as the gameplay goes from top down in one level, to running at the camera in the next, with even a few side-scrolling moments thrown in for good measure. I was pleasantly surprised by the variety on display here, and it sticks out to me as one of the high points of my time with Borti.
I must say that I enjoyed the music very much. It was bouncy and fun, something that is consistent with the best platformers throughout gaming history, and I’m glad to see that this is something that Blue Sunset Games paid close attention to. The one downside to this is the knowledge that there were obviously some aspects of the game that were tended to with great care, which makes the shortcomings in other areas that much more frustrating.
By the time I finished with my adventure, only a couple of hours had passed, making this a markedly short adventure, even by platformer standards. The collectibles, a staple of the genre since its inception, were neither hidden nor particularly worthwhile, so any kind of replay value is diminished by this fact. Overall, there are many reasons why a child might enjoy this: colorful characters and environments, simple to learn (though frustrating) gameplay, and catchy, bright tunes. Adults are better off picking up a more challenging and rewarding offering, of which there are many, no matter what platform you play on. Tiny Hands Adventure is available now on PC and Nintendo Switch for $16.99, and there is a planned release for Xbox One and PS4 as well