Thursday, April 1, 2021

Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 2: Bush Rescue HD (NSW) Review

Continuing this April Fools-free April 1st on SuperPhillip Central comes the very first review of the month. While the original game released way back in 2004, its HD remaster saw a release this week on the Nintendo Switch. It's Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 2: Bush Rescue HD, and here is the SPC review.

Like a boomerang, what goes around, comes around with the return of Ty's second adventure

The sequel to Ty the Tasmanian Tiger, known as Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 2: Bush Rescue, originally launched on the PlayStation 2, GameCube, and Xbox back in 2004. Ty himself has a modest but dedicated following, as evident by both Ty's original game and its sequel's remasters securing quick funding via Kickstarter. With this Kickstarter success sees Ty's second adventure coming back (maybe you could say... like a boomerang?) in 2021 with its first destination on the Nintendo Switch, with PlayStation and Xbox ports occurring later this year. With borderline average critical reception back in 2004, how does Ty the Tasmanian 2: Bush Rescue improve with its HD remaster for 2021? Well, not too terribly much.

Unlike the original Ty the Tasmanian Tiger, in Bush Rescue, the game sees an open world approach to its design, mostly made up of missions instead of single levels to run and jump through and acquire collectables. This change in approach was a bit of a bummer having coming off the first Ty the Tasmanian Tiger when I reviewed the original game in 2015. Bush Rescue often loses its focus and tries to do too many things at once. What Ty ends up being is a Tasmanian tiger of all trades but a master of none. 

Ty the Tasmanian Tiger's second platforming outing is here for a second time.

Starting off in Bush Rescue HD, you begin at Bush Rescue HQ, a wide open area to explore, adjacent to a town area which is home to some beginning platforming and exploration opportunities to get your feet wet and 'rangs spinning, and NPCs who utter the same lines whenever Ty gets within shouting distance of them. The town contains shops to purchase new boomerangs, new health upgrades, keys to various mech suits that are required for several missions, and cosmetic skins for Ty and his buggy-like vehicle.

Armed with his twin boomerangs, Ty is ready for adventure.

Upon leaving the starting town, Ty arrives at the Southern Rivers, a series of roads that connect every point of interest, area, and level on the map. Hopping in Ty's method of traveling the roads is an all-terrain vehicle, perfect for getting around. Now, whether or not the act of getting around Southern Rivers via driving is fun is up to the player's perspective, but for me, it's a tad too tiresome. Between the less than impressive handling of the vehicle to traveling along linear roads from destinations to destinations, I'd prefer if it wasn't there in its current form. It's just tedious to have to travel from point A to point B, especially if it's completely on the other side of the rather large map. Since roads cannot be diverged from in any way, you're stuck to predetermined paths with no hopes for shortcuts or fast travel options.

Driving around Southern Rivers is unfortunately not the most exciting prospect or thing to do in the game.

Fortunately, getting around on Southern Rivers and anywhere else is made easy thanks to a helpful map that shows you various multicolored stars, indicating where missions are. You can access the menu to take a look at what star's color depicts what mission, so you're never stuck wondering. The map is absolutely a godsend for this game, as my enjoyment would have plummeted severely without it. The fact that you receive a map inside the major levels of the game, as well, offers even more convenience.

The missions themselves in Bush Rescue HD run the gamut of tasks, but so many of these at least in the Southern Rivers open world map are repeated too heavily. You'll be controlling helicopters multiple times through short, easy, breezy, but mind-numbing all the same overhead sections or being asked to deliver an item from one part of the map to another with a generous time limit (this happens way too much and like many of the missions in the game, it just seems like busywork). Without question, though, the worst of these missions--and thankfully this was the only one of its kind--was a mission involving a traffic jam caused by five tractor trailers losing their loads. Ty has to pilot a mech, locate, pick up, carry and transport five containers to each trailer. However, the mech moves so painfully slowly that this mission was immensely boring and tedious to do. 

Nor is piloting a helicopter in missions such as this, no matter how brief they can be.

While Southern Rivers' series of missions do less than excite, the missions and objectives within the game's actual levels fare much, much better. They're organic to the gameplay, lending themselves to Ty's true calling: platforming. And this is where Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 2: Bush Rescue HD is at its strongest. There are still some niggling issues here and there, but ultimately, what is here works, is functional, and most importantly, is enjoyable. 

Ty has all of his abilities from the original game. He has is trusty twin boomerangs, which is the optimal way of taking down enemies, as there is some poor hit detection otherwise when it concerns Ty's melee attack, a bite. Ty can jump, gain a small degree of extra height with a second leap in the air, and spin his 'rangs to slow his descent downward as he glides across gaps and other expanses. 

Ty, as expected, is at his best when he's running and jumping.

This Tasmanian Tiger is certainly no Mario with his movement capabilities. This is extraordinarily evident as Ty's range of moves is incredibly limited, even when compared to 2002's Super Mario Sunshine. Even a long jump or means to get around faster would have made a world of difference for Ty, especially with how big some of these levels and areas are (and with how slow Ty seems to move in them). It makes getting around a chore at times, but when levels are more dense and I wasn't in a barren fields or whatnot, I found myself coming around to the endearing Tasmanian Tiger. (Again, perhaps you could say... like a boomerang.)

Unlike Mario, Ty's repertoire of abilities is less tied to his movement utility and more towards his wide range of 'rangs. There are over 15 different boomerangs to collect in Ty 2, and these are acquired through purchasing them with Opals, the currency of the game. Some of the boomerangs return from the original Ty, such as the Flamerang, which can melt ice, or conversely the Freezerang can--like its name suggests--can freeze objects, enemies, and produce frozen platforms on bodies of water. The Lasharang serves as a whip that can strike enemies as well as hook onto special grapple rings for Ty to swing from. Though there is a variety of boomerangs that Ty can use, generally I found myself simply sticking to a select few outside of contextual requirements like needing to cross a chasm with the Lasharang or view hidden objects otherwise undetectable with the Infrarang, for instance. 

The touching up to the visuals is most welcome and looks great in Bush Rescue HD.

Outside of completing story and optional missions (the latter includes several Mario Kart-style races--which is also a separate package in the title screen menu), there is still plenty to do in Ty 2. While the goal of collecting various goodies is less prominent when compared to the original Ty, there remains a good deal to find, collect, and enjoy. From silver cogs to missing Bilbies, a lot of what is hidden in Ty 2 is cleverly done and lots of fun to find, and there is a lot of it to discover. 

Compared to the blurry but functional game from 2004, Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 2: Bush Rescue's HD remaster is a welcome sight for the most part. Pretty much everything has been improved visually--whether it be resolution or reflections--though the package isn't entirely remastered to its very finest. Some later levels feature some moderately noticeable moments of the frame-rate turning quite sluggish. I also ran across one crash in my 15 hours with the game when I selected the "Exit Level" option. The latter was an isolated case, but the frame-rate issue occurred multiple times in the same areas of the levels, often with heavy foliage. 

Mecha no mistake. Ty means business in this mech suit.

No doubt riding the GTA-inspired, mission-based, open-world wave that many 3D platformers of the time rode, Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 2: Bush Rescue went a touch too ambitious for its own good. Instead of sticking with and further iterating on what really worked in the original game--the enjoyable platforming--the developers and designers opted to extend themselves a bit too far with vehicle-based missions that do less than delight and an open-world design that doesn't really do much to enhance the overall experience. It seems that my thoughts from 2021 line up with those from 2004. 

That said, even as someone who didn't play the original games when they released but has a fond remembrance for games of this era, Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 2: Bush Rescue HD serves as a nostalgic trip for me. The platforming and level design are overall solid, as are the touched-up visuals. Everything else involved with the design? Well, that's better left in 2004. Still, I don't regret having Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 2 take up 15 hours of my time. It was a worthwhile game to play, despite my many misgivings with Ty's not-so-ripsnorting sequel. 

[SPC Says: C+]

A code was received by SPC from the publisher for the purpose of writing this review.

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