Tiny and Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers
Do you like pants? I like pants. Especially briefs complete with the little pocket for quicker access in desperate times. If you don’t like them, I’m sure you will after playing Tiny and Big as you’ll spent a fair bit of time with them, learning about them, searching for them, chasing them, running from them, aiming at them, pushing them, flying on them and being painfully kicked in them. Grandpa’s leftovers (you guessed it) are indeed pants, but these are no usual pants – these have unimaginable power! Intrigued yet?
You take control of a courageous little adventurer by the name of Tiny, a strange little guy well-equipped with handmade gadgets and a talking radio that not only plays random tracks found throughout your adventure, but also gives you tips on your current situation. ‘Big’, Tiny’s arch nemesis, has stolen the pants that grandpa had left and fled to the ‘Forsaken Desert’. It’s up to Tiny to find Big and recover what he stole. By using the unique gadgets forged by Tiny himself, you must slice, pull, blast and leap your way after Big.
Your gadgets include a laser cutter, a grappling hook and a rocket launcher, all vital instruments to succeed in your adventure. With the laser cutter, you can cut almost any object into smaller pieces, from rocks to cliff faces, providing you with many separate objects that can be moved as desired. The grappling hook is used for pulling distant objects like a section of wall that has previously been cut. If you wish to push a distant object instead, you can use the rocket launcher, a simple device that attaches a thruster to your chosen object. These gadgets are all introduced in a very nice tutorial played on Tiny’s ‘Reality Boy’ – a portable games console. The tutorials have a very basic environment of blocks on a grid that allow you to learn how the gadgets work very easily, although the gadgets couldn’t be simpler anyhow, but a nice tutorial always goes down well.
The Reality Boy batteries conveniently run flat as you and your jabbering radio arrive at your destination: the Forsaken Desert. After a small cutscene, you find yourself in a valley surrounded by cliffs and scattered with collectables such as music tapes and ‘Boring Rock’s’. These rocks have no purpose in Tiny and Big other than to be collected. Each level has a fair few scattered about and some hidden; they act as another objective other than to simply progress through the story (which is a damn good idea as the story is a short 3-5 hours long). Other objectives include racing against the clock, least deaths and my favourite, least amount of cuts used. I love this little challenge; it reminds me of the challenges in Portal where you had to think about where you could save on a use or two. I found it very satisfying to cut an object that would fall perfectly into place, and I began convincing myself that I did it on purpose when I knew it was 90% fluke. Another beautiful detail about Tiny and Big is the ability to surpass each and every obstacle multiple ways. If you accidentally lose an object you need, you can do it the hard way and start cutting the roof apart or going back a short way to grab an object previously used. You really can grab and use whatever you like; only a guideline is given.
Tiny and Big is a work of art. It’s beautifully rendered with a cell-shaded effect. All textures are hand-crafted and have a unique roughly drawn shading style. Most of the game is set outside, the sun is shining and mixed with the cheerful music, it feels happy. You can’t help but smile as you reach the highest point or watch a small mountain crumble in the sun. It’s a very easy game to get the hang of with its few controls, perfect for a computer mouse – the three buttons each control a gadget. The Xbox 360 controller also works very well with the shoulder buttons to use abilities and analogue stick to resize and position your cuts.
‘”Give me back the pants!” “Never! You are too weak to handle their powers anyway!”’
The conversations had with Big are hilarious and often end in a fight. Big almost kills Tiny on a regular basis; almost every time you see a loading screen, you’re thinking ‘Tiny could never have survived that!’. The characters make a funny grumbling noise as the speech bubbles appear above their comic book style faces – Tiny’s startled yelp is easily my favourite sound.
The main source of fun is the creativity and ability to make your own decisions about what to use as a suitable platform. However, as you progress through the game, you enter a large temple and have limited space and objects to manipulate. That creativity and happiness I originally had, turned into something fairly slow and dark, linear and even a little tedious. Small cracks in the ground could easily be fallen through, objects often fell off edges with little to replace them and the glowing neon lights as the only light source felt dull and quite frankly, too serious for the game’s humorous comic book style. Having said that, the world soon opened up again for a final showdown with Big that more than made up for the pretty dreary said level.
All in all I loved Tiny and Big. Even though it is a fairly short game story wise, the secrets and sub-objectives add up to what I believe is a suitable asking price of £9.99. The art style is a breath of fresh air, the gadgets are ground-breaking and the characters are entertaining to say the least. The environment is beautifully made, most of which gives you lots of freedom and creativity. The ending feels just like an episode of your favourite cartoon that leaves you happy and waiting for more. I thoroughly enjoyed Tiny’s adventure and hope Black Pants Games Studio has an episode two lined up for us!