Tadpole Treble PC Review

Tadpole Treble is the new rhythm/runner hybrid from BitFinity games. You are probably asking, “What is a rhythm/runner hybrid?” Well, if you would stop interrupting me, I’d tell you. In Tadpole Treble you play as Baton, a newborn tadpole with no legs, but a lot of moxie. The game starts with Baton being carried far away from home after a pelican attempts to eat her. What follows is Baton’s quest to get back to her mother. Tadpole Treble’s gameplay looks like a mix between guitar hero and a side-scrolling platformer. You control Baton as she moves down a river of sheet music. What makes this game different from a normal rhythm game is that in Tadpole Treble the musical notes, which appear as anthropomorphized animals and plants, are actually obstacles to be avoided rather than collectables to aim towards. But don’t think that the only thing you’ll be doing is just passively dodging musical monsters, each level has multiple paths available to take, as well as collectables that refill Baton’s health or charge her “treble meter”, which, when activated, makes Baton invulnerable for a short time. You can also collect bubbles in each level, which serve as an in-game currency that can be used to unlock new content.

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Tadpole Treble’s story mode is a lot of fun, easy to learn but difficult to master. The gameplay is accessible and enjoyable for players of all skill levels. The levels are populated with enough health-restoring collectables to make surviving each level fairly easy for most players.  But, players are given a letter grade based on their score at the end of each level, which will scratch the itch of players looking for more of a challenge. This grading system is fairly strict, even after multiple attempts of the same stage; the highest rating I was able to achieve was a C. While the basic level design and gameplay mechanics are the same from level to level, BitFinity introduces new elements, such as boss battles, to keep the game from becoming monotonous.

From an artistic standpoint, Tadpole Treble’s game design is fantastic. Most of the levels are drawn in a style similar to a children’s storybook, but like the gameplay, BitFinity will switch up the art style in interesting ways, such as one level that is animated to look like an 8bit NES game. While Tadpole Treble looks great, its true achievement is the music. Accept for a few classics such as Mario or Zelda, video game themes are often bland and forgettable. But, in Tadpole Treble the music is the real star of the show, all of the songs are totally original and played by what sounds like a full band. Some of the songs even had actual singing, complete with back up vocalists and original lyrics. Even after playing the game for less than a week many of the songs are still stuck in my head. This is rare for me, even when it comes to games that I’ve been playing for months. If some music obsessed madman put a gun to my head and asked me to hum the theme of the newest Metal Gear Solid I’d be a dead man, but if he asked for a song from Tadpole Treble I could belt out “Midnight Bayou,” with no problem.  

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While Tadpole Treble’s story-mode is enjoyable, and substantial enough to make the game well worth the price, it’s the composition mode that put the will give players an experience that they won’t find in any other game. Composition mode takes all of the games many elements and puts them in the hands of the players. Everything, from the background art to the instruments, is at the player’s disposal to create, not only a custom level, but also an original song. This could potentially provide endless of hours of entertainment to the musically minded player, but what’s even more interesting is the potential it has to help people learn about music and music composition.

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If you do a quick web search for “music games” or “music composition games”, all you’ll find is a series of crappy flash games that look about as much fun as watching paint dry at the DMV. I’m not calling Tadpole Treble an educational game, since the mere mention of the genre gives most people PTSD flashbacks of being yelled at by that lady from Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing. Tadpole Treble is about fun first; it doesn’t take bunch of boring music theory, slap a thin layer of gameplay on top, and pretend it’s a game. Tadpole Treble is a fun game that also has the potential to encourage someone to learn to create their own music, much in the way that people who play Guitar Hero often go on to take guitar lessons.

Tadpole Treble is a great example of how to blend art with gameplay; each enhances the other and elevates the game to something beyond just a fun distraction. If you love music, (and who doesn’t?) you would be doing yourself a great disservice by not checking this game out.

 

9 out of 10