Release Date: March 30, 2021 (Switch)
Platform: PC and Switch (Xbox and PS4 TBD)
A game key for Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 2: Bush Rescue HD was provided by Krome Studios.
I just recently played through the HD rerelease of the first Ty the Tasmanian Tiger game. I absolutely adored it as a throwback to the Nintendo 64 era of 3D platformers. This week I played through its sequel, Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 2: Bush Rescue HD. In general, the game maintains a lighthearted tone and is still fairly easy to pick up and play. The big difference is that it shifts to a pseudo-open-world, mission-based structure. It's still fun, but it didn't click with me as much as the level-based collectathon of the first game did.
Smaller Stories in a Bigger World
The opening to Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 2: Bush Rescue is a wild, action-packed set-piece that absolutely blew my mind. There are explosions happening all over while you battle hordes of enemies, pilot a mech battle suit, and man a turret to shoot down giant robots and drop-ships. Right away, this game is telling you that it's a shift from the charming, quiet world of the original game.
The loose set-up for this game is that Boss Cass, the villain from the first game, has broken out of prison and established his own country, giving himself diplomatic immunity. In response, Ty and his compatriots have established an organization called Bush Rescue. Their mission is to help out all the creatures of the Outback and to find a way to stop Boss Cass's undoubtedly evil schemes.
From a gameplay perspective, this means that you have an open-world to explore by driving in a four-wheel truck from one small locale to another, knocking missions off a list. Each time you finish one up, Maurie will chime in to remind you of what you could be doing next. At that point, you hop back in your ride and head off to another goal.
The shift to more of an open-world, mission-based structure isn't inherently bad, but I didn't love it. Part of the charm of the original game was thoroughly exploring a level to find all of its secrets. Most of the levels in Ty 2 are smaller and built around going in and doing one thing. There are still secrets to find, but I found myself looking for nooks and crannies a lot less.
The Old Stuff
Despite the expanded scope of Ty 2, Ty still controls almost exactly the same as he did in the first game. You run around, whipping boomerangs and chomping on enemies. The 3D platforming gameplay is alive and well. Many of the game's challenges are based around jumping, gliding, and climbing across obstacles. Everything about controlling the titular Tasmanian tiger still feels good.
The environments are smaller, but still have a lot of charm to them. I rescued trapped Koala miners from a lava-filled cave, rescued sheep from a flood, and delivered lunch to workers on an oil rig. Characters are still goofy, fun, and fully voice-acted. There are a lot more characters this time around, in order to make this feel more like a populated world. I think that having so many made it tougher for me to latch on to specific ones that I loved.
In the original game, there were 300 opals spread out in each level, like coins in a Mario game. Collecting all 300 gave you one of the Thundereggs that were the main objective. In Bush Rescue, there are opals absolutely everywhere. Your drive for collecting them is to use them to buy boomerangs and unlock new mechs. You get opals for breaking crates and for beating up baddies. Completing a mission rewards you with a whole ton of opals. They even put machines in the loading areas that spit out opals randomly to keep you entertained while the game gets the next section ready for you!
It is really nice that the currency is so abundant. Every time I went back to the main town I got to buy something new. On the other hand, losing the “collect 300 of these per level” made me less likely to go out of my way to look for them, which made me less likely to find the game's other secrets.
The New Stuff
Outside of the open-world and mission structures, the big addition in this game is vehicles. On top of the truck, there are helicopters, submarines, and mechs that are used for specific missions.
The truck itself feels fine to control, but it's nothing to write home about. You drive around highways and muddy roads to get from place to place in a mostly empty world. Occasionally you'll come across crates or enemies on motorbikes that you can destroy with a toss of an exploding boomerang, but otherwise driving around is extremely straightforward. There were a few missions where I had to drive from one place to another under a time limit, but otherwise, the driving could have been replaced with a menu to quick travel between locales and I wouldn't feel like much was lost.
The inclusion of the helicopter and submarine is really interesting. Both of these vehicles are exclusively used in small arenas where you generally have to move one thing to another thing. I used a helicopter to move slabs of highway into place and to wrangle crocodiles. I used a submarine to rescue a platypus surrounded by sharks. Mechanically, you're basically just tapping a button to gain altitude while you move over objects that get picked up and then dropped in place automatically. These sections were fun, but between a different style of gameplay and arenas that I never saw from Ty's perspective, they felt oddly disconnected from the rest of the game.
The first mech-like “Bunyip” in the game gets introduced in that opening action set-piece, and then they pop up a few times throughout the rest of the story. Some missions require a mech that can battle big monsters or one that can lift boulders or one that can douse flames. You unlock each of these in turn by buying a license for them using the opals you collect throughout the game. Playing with the Bunyips was always a bit of fun. They fit in better than the vehicles since they are just a tad bigger than Ty is, and you maneuver them and completely platforming challenges with them in the same way as the character himself.
And Also Go-Carts!
Weirdly, this game also has a reasonably comprehensive go-carting system built into it. Throughout the world, you can find races to compete in to earn even more opals. There are seven different tracks to race on, all themed after areas in the world. Within a race, you'll find weapons, boost pads, and shortcuts. It's like, a real racing game built into this 3D platformer!
These races were fairly fun, but it's no Mario Kart. Since I was never really hurting for money, I didn't play too many of them. Interestingly, there's even an option to go straight to a multiplayer cart racing game on the title screen. This is a pretty cool little extra feature if you are hurting for another goofy racing game to try out.
While the first Ty felt like a great continuation of the formats established in Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie, the second reminded me of how Jak II shifted the Jak and Daxter franchise. This isn't a bad game, but it definitely feels a bit different.
The story and moment to gameplay are all still fun, and the characters and story are silly and charming. The new vehicular stuff wasn't my favorite, but it gave a little more variety to the gameplay. My only real complaint is that the open-world aspect didn't quite do it for me. I missed getting to know the big environments from the first game. While the open-world design should have encouraged exploration, having just a few missions to do at a time made the game feel a lot more linear.
I liked Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 2: Bush Rescue HD. I just didn't love it as much as I loved the first game.