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Matt's Video Game Reviews (5)

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Tobe's Vertical Adventu... 3/5
Valkyria Chronicles 4 5/5
Papers, Please 2.5/5
Divinity: Original Sin 5/5
Firewatch 3.5/5


Tobe's Vertical Adventure   PC (Steam) 

The Race to the Middle    3/5 stars

Tobe’s Vertical Adventure (TVA) is a retro, 16-bit, 2D platformer, developed by Secret Base. It was released in 2011, capitalizing on the nostalgia of thirty-year-olds. Playing it ten years later, still evokes fond memories of the SNES, however the market for retro sprites and game mechanics has become saturated with so many indie studios doing the exact same thing. Rising to the top is quite the challenge, and TVA doesn’t present a strong argument for being excellent. Honestly, if it were not for the yearly Backlog Absolutions, I wouldn’t have picked it off my list to play. And the experience of playing it was just okay, worthy of a “C.”

2 out of 5
The story of TVA is about Tobe, a typical gamer, who is forced by his love-interest, Nana, to adventure through four different islands. He races through four levels on each island seeking treasure and saving animals. After finding all the rewards on the island, Tobe and Nana travel in their hot-air balloon to the next area. That’s about it for the story. It’s not too much, and it’s very simple. The developer clearly focused all time and effort on the platforming, not on the plot or its characters.

3 out of 5
The level design for TVA is fairly interesting. Tobe descends to the bottom of a level to open a treasure chest. Once the treasure has been taken, the level layout changes, walls break, traps are triggered. Tobe then races back to the starting point before time runs out or he is killed. Each stage repeats this same concept. The ramp in difficulty is appropriate and I dont’ have many complaints about the levels except that they were too repetitive.

The biggest problem with the gameplay were the controls. I was frequently frustrated by Tobe not reacting correctly due to sloppy controller implementation. It felt like a game designed for the keyboard and mouse with controller support tagged on later. Movement was imprecise and Tobe would often not slide or climb in a predictable way. I could only tolerate playing through one island (with four levels) before having to quit out of frustration.

4 out of 5
The presentation of TVA is appealing and the simplistic level design is not a bad thing. The color themes for each island are effective and the music is catchy. The 16-bit style works well for platformers. However, after seeing so many developers do the same thing, I am starting to wonder if it is now the lowest common denominator.

3 out of 5 (not an average)
I tend to judge platformers by comparing my frustration level to enjoyment. The genre can easily become toilsome with imprecise controls, poor level design, and insane difficulty spikes, thus contributing to rising blood pressure. TVA falls right in the middle. The beautiful presentation balances out the poor controller support. It’s not too annoying, nor is it too enjoyable. It’s just average.



Recent Comments
Comment On Review

Nelson Schneider

Nelson Schneider- wrote on 12/25/21 at 07:01 PM CT


Darn, I was kind of hoping my experience with the game was the result of using an Xbox 360 controller with the horrible mushroom-style d-pad. Looks like it IS actually a problem with the game's implementation of input, and not the input device at fault.

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