Sometimes a title is the only thing you need to get you interested in a game. When it’s goofy, outlandish, and just plain curious, interest gets piqued. This was the case with Tiny and Big: Granpa’s Leftovers. From the quirky title, to the charming art style and unique gameplay, Black Pants Studio has created a fun, if short, action platformer.
Tiny and Big follows Tiny as he searches the desert for Big, his brother. Big has stolen the heirloom that their grandfather had left to Tiny, a pair of underpants. Tiny, with his radio companion, must navigate the dry desert and mountain to get them back. The story is strange to say the least, and only gets more so as Tiny and Big discover that the pants have supernatural powers and that there was a cult in the mountains that worshiped them. As a whole, the goofy story serves less as an integral part of the game and more of an enjoyable side-note that sets up the gameplay sections. There is little in the way of characterization and narrative satisfaction, but it doesn’t need it. The short length of the game keeps the story fresh and interesting enough to be forgivable.
The gameplay and puzzle-solving are the most interesting aspects of this game. Each level is a mostly linear platforming affair, reminiscent of Super Mario Sunshine. From your starting point, you progress through the level, climbing, jumping, and dodging through uniquely designed locations. Tiny is given three tools to help him finish each area. The first is a grappling hook that can latch onto rocks and pull them along. The second is a rocket that can attach to an object and forcibly push it forward. The last, and probably most fun tool is a laser that cuts in a straight line. Using these tools, there is a lot of freedom to create your own paths through levels. Tiny and Big becomes a game that, while fun, starts making you ask the question, “was that how I was supposed to do it?” Sometimes it can feel like you are skipping content when you cross an area by cutting a wall into slices that slide to form an impromptu bridge. While there is nothing wrong with that, it makes me wonder if I am getting the full experience. One complaint on the whole is with the physics. Normally, they work pretty well and don’t get in the way. However, on a few occasions they did cause some trouble. At the final boss, large stone walls are thrown at you and you need to slice them in half. There were numerous times when I sliced them correctly, but one of the halves ended up hitting me anyway. This happened enough times during the fight that it moved from being a funny accident to a recurring annoyance.
Another well done aspect is the art design, both in visuals and in sound. The art style is cel shaded and, despite taking place in a desert, is vibrant and colorful. The character designs are as off the wall as the story and are reminiscent of a children’s cartoon. I would like to praise their tutorial level. It takes place in a handheld device and looks like the old black and green gameboy, even down to the large block pixels. The whole art design is clever and charming. The audio is also excellent. They mix more traditional atmospheric music with rock and Latin sounding songs. As a bonus, you can find cassette tapes as you play to unlock more well done music. The sound track is enjoyable, and the option to switch at will to a new song or replay an old one is a welcome addition.
The game, however, is short, and not that challenging. It can be beaten in under three hours. While this works in its favor as far as the story is concerned, I would have liked to see more levels that allowed for new ways of using the tools. Towards the end, it gets easier when you are in a place where only certain objects can be interacted with. Even some challenge levels like the initial tutorial would have added more to the experience. There is still plenty of replay value and it is fun to challenge yourself to complete the game in new ways.
Tiny and Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers is a fun action-platformer with charm and goofiness that is refreshing to see. The main gameplay elements are a lot of fun and allow for personal experimentation. Despite the length and a few translation errors, the experience is a great time.
Summary: Charming art, a goofy story, and stellar gameplay make this a short, fun experience.
Verdict: 8 out of 10
Review by Todd Naevestad