Do you remember the days of lovable anthropomorphic mascot characters? From Ratchet & Sly Cooper to Sonic The Hedgehog, there’s something nicely familiar about them, and perhaps a feature that we might see re-emerge someday. But one of these lesser-known characters is boomerang-slinging marsupial Ty The Tasmanian Tiger, who was a staple in my childhood gaming experience.
It’s a real icon of the time I think, coming out in 2002 for the Playstation and Gamecube, but it makes me so excited to hear that this first game in the series will be coming to Steam shortly. Ty The Tasmanian Tiger is a terrifically upbeat and bouncy 3D platformer with a very unabashed Australian theming, and it’s just really fun at the end of the day. You control Ty, generic-hero thylacine that he is on his epic journey to collect five magical talismans to rescue his parents, who have been locked in the Dreamtime by antagonist of the day Boss Cass. But in order to find the talismans, he’ll need to find thunder eggs from many worlds to power teleporters and unlock new zones to explore.
Ultimately Ty is a classic 3D collect-a-thon platformer, and thoroughly unapologetic about it, and as I say that I realise that now we’re in a climate where platformers almost require a gimmick or something on top of the standard formula. I think you have to remember the time though, almost fifteen years ago, when we were used to things like Spyro and Crash and Banjo-Kazooie, and Ty fit in just fine.
"The developers at Krome Studios were clearly inspired by their surroundings and the indigenous culture of Australia..."
The general aesthetic is fantastic, bright cartoony graphics and a driving soundtrack, but all with a relatively unusual outback flair - you’ll hear a lot more didgeridoo and stringed instruments rather than the more typical synth-based scores; The developers at Krome Studios were clearly inspired by their surroundings and the indigenous culture of Australia, much of which appears in the game’s story. I made a comment in my previous Psychonauts review regarding the darker tone of that game, and it’s fair to consider Ty as being the opposite case. You never really feel under any sort of threat, you can progress totally at your own pace and explore everything the game has to offer, taking in the beautifully vibrant scenery.
Speaking of which, the game is divided into very distinctly themed levels, from lush rainforests to desolate snowy mountains, each with their own mechanics and challenges to get used to. Not only must you find thundereggs to power your teleporter and reach new areas, but Boss Cass has also locked away your adorable bilbie friends in hidden cages - be sure to rescue them all.
I’m sure you’ll have noticed that by now Ty wields the quintessential Australian weapon of choice, the humble boomerang, as well as a set of powerful teeth. He can use them to take out enemies from a distance, glide short distances, or even activate switches and climb ledges. Collecting enough thunder eggs in each area grants you access to a powerful new elemental boomerang (after defeating the zone boss of course). Equally locate enough golden cogs throughout your adventures and you can unlock technorangs, such as the zoomerang which can be thrown over long distances, or the kaboomerang which does what it says on the tin.
I love the range of challenges that are on offer here - while some collectables simply demand completion of a difficult platforming section or beating a bunch of enemies, there are time trials, races, puzzles, and a couple of really charming missions such as chasing down this annoying turkey to retrieve a swallowed thunder egg. And be sure to collect the floating orbs you’ll see along the way - there are 300 of these opals hidden in each level and you’ll need to find them all to exchange for a thunder egg, and keep your eyes peeled - some of them, are very well hidden.
Ty isn’t a long or particularly complex game by any means, and you can probably complete absolutely everything there is to do in under ten hours, it’s not hard, just nicely nostalgic and fun. If, like me, you grew up in the golden age of 3D platformers, early to mid 2000s, this is gloriously entertaining and a sadly overlooked title. I would even suggest it to maybe play with your kids if you’re an older gamer, there’s no gore or jumpscares or anything, so this may well be a good choice for that kind of scenario as well. You can pick it up extremely cheaply on the PS2, Gamecube and Xbox, and it’s recently been announced for a Steam release as well, which I’m super excited for.
Author: Ollie Burton
Ollie is a student at Newcastle University in the UK studying Cellular & Molecular Biology. In his spare time he operates this website, is an avid gaming & film fan and plays in a blues-rock band, as well as editing for the University's student newspaper, The Courier.