Tiny & Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers Review
See PixlBit's Review Policies
On 07/15/2012 at 09:28 PM by Julian Titus
Fact: Wearing tighty whities on your head gives you telekinetic powers.
If you like puzzle platformers you'll probably get your 10 bucks' worth of enjoyment out of this game. But you could probably find a better indie game for the same price.
Black Pants aims to break out from the indie pack with Tiny and Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers, a puzzle/platform game based around slicing through pretty environments to cut a path to victory. While it has a quirky sense of humor and an interesting core game mechanic, it's nothing special.
You control Tiny, who is hot on the trail of Big. The reason? Big stole your grandpa’s underwear (called “pants” in this European-developed title), and you need to get them back before Big uses their magic powers for evil (sometimes the most obvious answer to a question is the correct one, isn't it?).
To get the pants back, Tiny has three tools at his disposal. His cutting laser can slice through just about any object in the environment. He can use his claw to latch onto pieces that he’s cut away, as well as large moveable blocks and drag them where he needs them. Lastly, Tiny can fire a rocket that attaches to loose objects, after which he can fire the rocket’s thruster to propel the item forward.
You’ll spend the entirety of Tiny and Big using these items to solve the environmental puzzles of the game. Well, “puzzles” may be a bit of an exaggeration. Basically, Tiny needs to get to the end of the level, but to do so he’ll have to navigate around massive rocky outcroppings and gargantuan stone architecture. Tiny can’t jump very high, so the order of the day is to cut ledges down to size, dragging the excess bits away so that he can traverse the environment.
If it sounds simple, it is; the challenge of the game largely comes from the game doing a poor job of instructing the player where to go. The mostly desert environments tend to consist of varying shades of brown, and it can be easy to get turned around or lost. You can follow the trail of “ordinary stones”—the game’s main collectable—but oftentimes they are so spread out that you can’t count on them. Developer Black Pants would have done well to take a page from the Valve school of design and use the environment to lead players along naturally.
Beyond that gripe, using the laser to cut through objects is a lot of fun. The boring tutorial levels give an impression that the game will be all about pushing and pulling perfectly square blocks, but once you get into the adventure proper, you’ll find that the environment is quite organic. Getting through the levels is a matter of perspective—there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to proceed most of the time. That’s a double-edged sword in this case; while it leaves a lot of room for improvisation, there were many times that I got to the end of a level by brute force and not by more clever means. But it’s amazing to see just how flexible the game can be thanks to the cutting mechanic. It’s possible to screw things up enough that a retry is needed, but many times even mistakes can be turned into successes. Eventually, I was able to slice my platforms “just so”, even avoiding the unintended consequences of a compromised structure falling onto my head.
Things go wrong when the game throws more action-heavy elements at you. Tiny will encounter Big multiple times during the 6 levels of the game, and these always result in Big using the telekinetic powers of grandpa’s pants to hurl all manner of obstacles at Tiny. These require split-second timing as Tiny needs to either cut through these objects before they hit him or get out of the way. The problem is that the controls simply aren’t precise enough to handle these sections well.
Even just grazing an object in motion will kill Tiny, so these bits of the game were highly frustrating. I was playing with mouse and keyboard controls, but I can’t imagine that things would be much better with a controller, simply because it wouldn’t have the precision needed to use the laser quickly and efficiently. These sections got more and more frequent as the game progressed, and even though the game is short I was still very unmotivated to finish all the way to the end.
I stated earlier that this is a short game, and it really is. The 6 levels can be tackled in just a few hours, depending on how often you die during those actiony bits. With that being said, I felt like the game overstayed its welcome, and that’s really the best indication of my feelings on this one. It has some good ideas, but at the end of the day it’s just a little game that I had only a little bit of fun with.