If any of you have memories, fond or otherwise, of games like Mega Man or Ghosts 'n Goblins, you'll feel right at home in Tiny Barbarian DX.

You are a Conan-esque barbarian, muscling through dungeons and temples, and an amazing amount of snakes, to rescue the girl from a quite powerful wizard (who seriously has a thing for snakes…). Gold coins are collected and enemies slain to increase your high score, while a timer haunts from the top right of the screen, measuring your progress, or mocking it, as the case may be. There is no leveling, no gained abilities, no upgrades, none of that RPG nonsense here. No, its just your phalangeal dexterity, a trusty sword, and a mean elbow drop.

The thing that I love to hate about these types of murder platformers, I mean games, is that I get this feeling like they really do know me. They know that I secretly love to fail a lot in my interactive experiences. Like, A LOT. Try to jump from that chain to the ledge, and there's an incoming snake ball. Dodge the snake ball next time, then there's the flying spear. In one area where I had already spent way too much time memorizing patterns of flying death, and changing strategies in some vain hope of moving forward, I had managed to make it to the checkpoint. With one block of health left, a short sigh of relief turned bitter when I hadn't gauged that final leap, and I landed right into a pit of spikes, the exit a mere few blocks away. Now that's the childhood agony I remember! My successful play through netted a total of 73 deaths. I think I started swearing out loud at around 46, unless it was death by snake which usually triggered it's own set of expletives. Thankfully, Michael Stearns knows how to make it all worthwhile. Even in my many deaths I couldn't wait to see what was coming next.

I played through with a gamepad, and while support for that is a recent feature, the controls were tight, which is essential in any platformer, but more so in one that punishes players who lack precision in their execution. There were one or two instances where I thought there was an issue with not being able to move or attack how I intended to, but I don't know how much of that is bugs, or just my rusty hand eye coordination. I noticed it most in the brief animal riding sequences, which I didn't much care for anyway.

I need to say a quick word about the soundtrack, and really the sound design of the whole game. Good, good stuff here. Jeff Ball is working some serious magic, and I totally dig it.

There is a lot of fun to be had with this first chapter of Tiny Barbarian DX. It's beautiful to look at, and fun to play, with a good amount of challenge. While it is a short ride, there's a king-of-the-hill style Horde Mode to keep us busy until the next chapter comes (how long can you survive?). Three more chapters are planned, part of the game purchase bundle and downloadable when available. They have a great foundation here, and I'm really looking forward to the rest of the experience. One request for the future: Please go easy on the snakes.

Check out the interview that jdodson had with designer Michael Stearns, if you haven't already.

Official website:
Jeff Ball music:
Cheerful Ghost dev interview:

scrypt   Supporter   Post Author wrote on 06/26/2013 at 06:59am

I wanted to post my gameplay stats from this review playthrough, just to get some sort of challenge ball rolling:

Final Score: 24910
Finishing Time: 1:41:23
Deaths: 73!
Found 3 of 14 Diamonds
Horde Mode best time: 1:19

jdodson   Admin wrote on 06/27/2013 at 12:09am

I am going to get my best times in here too.

Kind of wanting to get some super insane Horde Mode time. But all that comes with... practice :D

scrypt   Supporter   Post Author wrote on 06/27/2013 at 01:31am

Yeah, I didn't attack Horde Mode until after I finished the adventure, and at that point my fingers couldn't take it. I did find good strategy with the elbow drop. Found it to be essential in certain situations. I'm not the best at those types of challenges, so I tend to struggle a bit.

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