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Nelson Schneider's Video Game Reviews (473)

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Tiny Tina's Wonderlands 3.5/5
Ratchet & Clank: Rift A... 4.5/5
Super Mario Bros. Wonder 4.5/5
The Alliance Alive 2/5
Catmaze 4.5/5
Turnip Boy Commits Tax ... 4.5/5
Seasons After Fall 3/5
Rayon Riddles - Rise of... 0.5/5
World to the West 4/5
MechWarrior 5: Mercenar... 4/5
Streets of Kamurocho 2.5/5
Aeon of Sands - The Tra... 2.5/5
Greak: Memories of Azur 3.5/5
Yaga 2.5/5
Riverbond 3/5
Bug Fables: The Everlas... 4.5/5
Front Mission 1st Remake 1.5/5
Middle-earth: Shadow of... 3.5/5
Bladed Fury 3.5/5
Ruzar - The Life Stone 3.5/5
Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin 3.5/5
Mighty Switch Force! Co... 2.5/5
Aegis of Earth: Protono... 3/5
Torchlight III 2.5/5
Cyberpunk 2077 3.5/5

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Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion   PC (Steam) 

Why Does This Seem So Familiar?    4.5/5 stars

“Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion” (“TB”) is the inaugural title from Massachusetts-based Indie developer, Snoozy Kazoo, a 7-person team whose stated goal is to “make really, really dumb video games.” I first became aware of “TB” randomly through Steam, but became interested in it because of the close-to-real-life parallels I have to a certain Potato Man who Commits Credit Card Debt. The humorous store page, positive user reviews, and alleged ‘Zelda’-insired gameplay cemented my desire to play this title.

Of course, I am a cheap bastard, so I waited and watched, almost pulling the trigger several times on deep discounts. Yet my purchase procrastination was ultimately vindicated, as the Epic Store gave away copies of this game for free in 2023.

In the end, Epic Games finally succeeded in giving away a good game for free, while Snoozy Kazoo utterly failed in their mission statement. “TB” is full of silliness and satire, but it’s anything but ‘dumb.’

Presentation
“TB” uses bright, colorful, hand-drawn 2D pixel art to incredible effect. The game environments are all entirely built from retro-inspired chunky pixels, while the menus and overlays are all likewise hand-drawn, but high resolution. The art style employed is highly stylized, cartoony, and absurdist, highly reminiscent of the art employed in the ‘Ittle Dew’ series (which lead me to the mistaken belief that “TB” was by the same studio). Everything is clean and clear, allowing players to fully appreciate the absurdity of the game world, but never forcing them to squint or scratch their head in wonder over what exactly some configuration of pixels is supposed to represent.

Audio is varied, but like the visuals, incredibly well done. There are a handful of retro-inspired videogame tunes that play while the player guides the titular character through an array of diverse environments, which are all excellent compositions. On top of that, there are a couple of unique “Where did THAT come from?!” tracks during the final boss battle and the end credits that struck my musical ear with the same delight as “Jump Up Superstar!” did in “Super Mario Odyssey.” There’s no voiceacting in the game, however, but it really doesn’t need it.

Technically, “TB” is rock solid. It ‘just works’ with no quirks, hitches, glitches, or any other minor difficulties. It supports Xinput out of the box, features frequent and convenient auto-saves, allows the player to save and quit at will, and even includes a stable of accessibility options to make the game easier or tougher, though I found the defaults were just right in this case.

Story
“TB” starts us out in the role of our hero, the titular Turnip Boy, who lives in a really nice greenhouse in Veggieville. Unfortunately for him, that nice greenhouse comes with an oh-so-relatable massive property tax bill. Mayor Onion shows up at Turnip Boy’s door, presents a bill for $175,000 in back taxes, and commandeers the greenhouse as a base of operations while City Hall is under construction. In order to pay off his crushing tax debt, Mayor Onion proposes that Turnip Boy can run a number errands for him to get started.

Thus Turnip Boy is thrust into a cute, cartoony world of talking vegetables and fruits, as he sets out on a series of seemingly-disconnected fetch-quests for the mayor. His only methods of self-expression being a series of collectable hats and the ability to find and tear-up a variety of government documents and books… with extreme prejudice.

The dialog in “TB” is all incredibly silly and humorous, with Turnip Boy serving as a ‘silent protagonist’ who only ever speaks in punctuation for the player to read, but whose meaning is always made quite clear to the game’s NPCs. Furthermore, the narrative, which starts off absurd grows darker and darker over time, as Turnip Boy explores the environs around Veggieville.

Indeed, “TB” is quite the subversive little title. While it starts off as goofy and “dumb” (as the developers describe it), it quickly turns into razor sharp parody and satire, which I found truly enjoyable.

The only real downside of “TB” from a story perspective is that it’s really, really short. We’re talking 3 hours for a complete playthrough. Of course, there have been other truly exemplary games in the past that have had super-short runtimes (I’m thinking “Portal” and “Freedom Fall”), so “TB” is in good company in that respect.

Gameplay
“TB” is a super-streamlined ‘Zelda’ clone with all the trappings one would expect from such a game. The Action unrolls from a birds-eye, top-down perspective, with Turnip Boy starting out with the dubiously-useful ability to ‘trip’ (which actually acts as a dodge mechanic). Before long, the player will uncover their first tool: A watering can, which can be used to make a variety of plants do a variety of things for the sake of solving environmental puzzles.

Puzzles and combat play equal roles in “TB,” with both the overworld and handful of 4 dungeons featuring an even mix of navigating through puzzle rooms and killing enemies (which typically take the form of things that eat veggies… like bunnies, which I loved killing). Each dungeon also culminates in a battle against a massive boss enemy, which can either be whittled away with basic attacks or damaged more severely by employing puzzle mechanics from earlier in the same dungeon.

In general, the core gameplay in “TB” is incredibly tight, cleverly designed, and well-executed. I loved every moment I spent playing “TB,” and my only complaint is that there’s not MORE of it. Fortunately, the developers heard the cry for more “TB,” and added a post-game bonus mode as a free DLC… unfortunately, this post-game mode takes the form of a Roguelike, which means I stayed far, far away from it.

Overall
While Snoozy Kazoo may want to make “small, short, dumb as heck games,” they only really succeeded at two of those goals. “Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion” is small and short, but is bursting at the seams with satirical wit, humor, and social commentary. It’s also bursting at the seams with tightly-designed classic ‘Zelda’-style gameplay, for the throngs of gamers who still love that kind of thing (even though Nintendo doesn’t do it anymore). This game is a must-play for anyone with a free afternoon, though the Roguelike DLC can (and should) be easily ignored.

Presentation: 5/5
Story: 5/5
Gameplay: 4.5/5
Overall (not an average): 4.5/5

 

 


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