Tobe's Vertical AdventureESRB:
Platform: PC Games
Poor Tobe. He came so close, and fell so very, very far. And the worst part? I could see exactly what I needed to do, and it was, at least partly, my own darn fault for jumping too soon. My lax platforming skills led, in part, to his spikey, spikey death... the rest? Well, read on.
Tobe's vertical adventure is a short indie platformer, where you can play either the twitchy xbox gamer Tobe, or his slightly tomb-raiderish and outdoorsy girlfriend Nana, on a hunt for treasure and adventure. In each of the sixteen levels, you spend your sweet time getting down to the bottom, where a large treasure chest awaits, the inevitable trap goes off, and you have to then hightail it through a level that has changed, sometimes drastically, before the time runs out, the dungeon collapses, and your poor hero(ine) falls to untimely death. Along the way, either there or back, it's a good idea, both for your score, and for the unlockables, to collect every gem, open every treasure chest, and rescue every small, helpless bird... And if you manage to get back to the start of the level quickly, that's a real bonus for your score too.
Each character has a slightly different way of doing things. Tobe, for example, is obviously a lot more fit than his gamer disposition would suggest, being able to sprint and wall run, whereas Nana is slower, but can double jump. Both characters, however, can mantle (pull themselves up ledges), climb ropes, float using balloons, and roll when running (or, in Nana's case, gently jogging...). Along the way, there will be traps to avoid, monsters to stun via the time honoured “jump on their heads”, and buttons to push, just to see what they can do. The levels for all three of the story modes (Tobe, Nana, and local Co-Op) are exactly the same, but each game mode requires a different approach. Nana, for example, not being the sprinting type, has to use her double jump, but can get to high places Tobe can't without a good run up. Any which way you play it, it is possible to collect all the gems and birds, so you're mainly playing for different style and slightly different slideshow cutscenes.
Graphically, it's a pixellated mock-anime style, much like many of the platformers from the early 90s on consoles, and, for the game, it works. Animations are smooth, the cutscenes can be amusing, especially the intro with its intentional breaking of the fourth wall, and the four environments are sufficiently varied to keep things going. Music wise, it seems a bit samey, each world having a theme that plays on endless repeat while you're going through, and the sound the birds make when you rescue them is... slightly disturbing, actually. Still, the music isn't a big problem, as it is entirely possible to finish each story mode in about an hour, maybe two. And the length isn't a big problem, because it is so obviously a score attack game. Even the Steam achievements reflect this, with two thirds of the achievements being “100% all the levels in a world in under X seconds per level”, and two of the remaining five achievements being “100% the collectables”. Nothing clever, nothing complicated... but does it do everything it set out to do?
Well, I'd say it does 90% of what it's supposed to do... the other ten percent being a bit of a problem n a game like this. Essentially, the controls seem to vary between being very responsive, to being off by that vital fraction of a second that means you either wallrun/double jump your way to quick victory, or fail and lose vital seconds. But, apart from that, it does everything it means to. It's a short, cheap, and fun game, and the difficulty curve seems just right.