Having worked a reviewer for one of the biggest music reviewing websites in Greece, it feels like a nostalgia hit every time I have to review a musical game or generally any game that its prime focus is on music and sound. Tadpole Treble falls into that category and after a couple hours of messing around with it, I have quite a few things to say about it. The creation of BitFinity is definitely a title worth talking about when it comes to how a game can successfully implement sound and music in an interactive video game experience.
First and most important to talk about at this point, would be the plot of the whole ordeal that is Tadpole Treble. The player has control of a little tadpole that tries to swim through various stages where the rhythm of the music guides us in avoiding obstacles and collecting all sorts of things available to us. You probably understand why the name is called like that now. Throughout the story we get to swim up the river through various areas, each with their own unique music track and fancy environments.
The game is basically a reflex game where you guide your tadpole within the lines of a music pentagram. The tadpole has a health bar too which can be depleted if we run through obstacles that harm us. The main collectibles in each level are bubbles which there are a hundred of. There are also hidden challenges in each level, with them being things like “use very possible jump pad in the level”. These allow us to unlock all sorts of things such as extra pieces of art to look at and other fancy bonus stuff.
The gameplay plays nice and fast. Apparently though, being an experienced rhythm game player, as well as platformer games expert, I felt as if the game required too much speed from me to even be able to get all the bubbles in many stages. If you miss one bubble, then you will have to replay the entire level to get it. That of course plays into the whole “replayability” and “game depth” discussions, but at the same time, the frustration that overtook every time I saw my final bubbles count been 2 away from being perfect kinda made it feel as if the game was just not allowing me to fully embrace its controls. Even after a couple hours of playing the game, I felt as if the game was just too fast for me. That eventually led me to believe that I should be blaming the area design and not the game speed. The speed felt just fine, but the bubbles were placed in such a way that I sparsely had a good idea of where the trail of the bubbles would be next.
Next to all that, despite the music pentagram being a cool idea and all, the 5 lines, along with the spaces in between made it feel as if there was way too much space at times to do things. If you were just hanging all the way at the bottom and something interesting happened at the top, then sometimes it would be a bit too hard to switch all the way there. Yet again, I cannot blame the speed of the game for this.
Moving on to the visual part, the game has a very cartoony feel, similar to the animated kid shows that we used to see on low-budget television channels back in the day. Despite looking too simple to the eye, the simplicity of the graphics somehow allow you to fully realize what is happening on the screen without too much hassle. Pretty and simple is what is needed for this game and on that part, the studio has done a splendid job, so disregard what it personally reminded me of. It works. I have to say that I personally did love the art made for the huge frog, because it looked really good for what it meant to represent.
The graphics being the way they are is also great because you can just sit back and enjoy the musical interactive experience even more. The game is about music anyway, rather about how it looks.
We get to play games with electronic music and all other sorts of action-type sounds every single week, but it is a rare find to get your hands on something that has a unique set of music tracks tied to it. Tadpole Treble is one of those little gems. I may not be the OST’s biggest fan but I certainly enjoyed finishing the game enough in order to play it another time and go through the levels a couple more times. I mean come on, there was a level where a little tadpole was singing a romantic song to you, while you both swim through the river. Honestly though, the work of the people behind the composition of the game’s music is to be commended here.
Saying unique though could be an overstatement if not explained. So to put more light into this, all I have to tell you is that all the levels are so set apart from each other both theme as well as music-genre wise. You have your Wild West, your pop and even your mellow melody kind of levels. Among many others at least. It was a joy to progress to the next level, aching to see what new sounds my ears will get to indulge in. This made the entire playthrough of the game such an enjoyable experience that I did not even realize how the time passed playing it.
The game did give me a hard time on the last level, since I really had not idea what was going on. I eventually realized it though and made it just fine. The game wasn’t that hard, but it certainly provides quite a bit of replayability since its music makes it enjoyable to play through, even if it is for a second or a third time on certain levels. Apart from that, there is a composition mode where the players can make their own levels. Online leaderboards are also in there, in case you are one of those people that love to climb them.
The game is available on PC and Mac through Steam and on Wii U. You can purchase either version from the official website at 9.99$.
Tadpole Treble is worth buying, more because it has great music rather because it has good gameplay. Nicely placed at a very good price, it will offer any fan of music-rhythm games a very relaxing experience. Any fan of good music in games will definitely enjoy playing it through as well. If you are one of the more hardcore players, then I would probably look away because you might get disappointed by the lack of good map design and the fact that the entire game is really easy to finish. Surely the leaderboards make up for that, but still it didn’t feel like the kind of game that you can stress high scores that much more. A must buy for casual gamers that want an enjoyable interactive experience though.
+Great and unique array of music scores
+Casual and enjoyable experience
–A bit too easy at many parts of it
–Map design could be a better
Score : 6,7/10
Konstantinos “Kelfecil” Christakis