The day has finally come – Tiny Barbarian DX has arrived on Nintendo Switch. With every single episode now delivered, is the old school platformer worth your time and money on Nintendo Switch? It’s time for us to find out!
Tiny Barbarian DX is a 2D retro platformer developed by StarQuail games. It was originally released in 2013 on Steam. The game initially had one episode, and a free update earlier this year added episode two to the Steam version of the game.
The Switch version is considered as Tiny Barbarian DX’s final and ultimate form, with four episodes, a survival mode, and 2 player co-op mode. Each episode has its own unique story, new enemies, new bosses, and setting.
I’d also like to point out that this is the first time I’ve played Tiny Barbarian DX, as I have never touched the Steam version of the game before.
Tiny Barbarian DX is carved out into different episodes, and each episode actually has a different story to it. In the first episode, Tiny Barbarian’s girlfriend has been kidnapped by some sort of snake worshiping group, so you’ll have to find a way to save her. While in the second episode, Tiny Barbarian’s girlfriend wandered out of the cave and who knows what sort of danger she has gotten herself into…
We won’t spoil the rest of the episodes so you’ll have to find it out yourself. The story is essentially pretty basic stuff that you’ll find in any other old 2D platformer like Super Mario Bros. The plot of each episode is somehow tied into every boss, enemy, and setting that you will encounter in that episode.
If you’re familiar with 2D platformers, Tiny Barbarian DX’s gameplay won’t be unfamiliar to you. In fact, as compared to most modern platformers, Tiny Barbarian DX uses very little buttons. Move around the map with the analog stick, hit B to jump, and press Y to slash the crap out of your enemies. If you don’t like the button configuration, you can change it anytime.
Every episode is divided into different “sections” (for example, a palace), and each section has its own set of rooms. Generally speaking each section introduces a new challenge, enemy, or gimmick, which in some way will prepare you for the bosses that appear later. A checkpoint is made once you enter the next room or next section, so if you run out of health you’ll respawn at the beginning of the room.
When I first booted up the game, I had the impression that Tiny Barbarian DX was going to be a fairly average game in terms of difficulty. Turns out I was really wrong. You may think that having checkpoints in every room and providing 6 pieces of health is generous, but that’s because the developers know you are going to die pretty often.
The game’s difficulty stems from the impressive level design of Tiny Barbarian DX, and that is where it really shines. Enemies such as snakes, soldiers, and monsters have been placed at strategic positions with the sole goal of making you lose your health and die. Places where I thought were safe turned out to be dangerous traps. All this really kept me on my toes.
There was little room to make mistakes, and at times I was left with one piece of health by the time I completed a challenging room.
If you grew up playing tons of platformers on the NES and SNES, I guess Tiny Barbarian DX may not be much trouble to you. I died more than 170 times in the episodes I’ve completed, so dying is part and parcel of this game while trying to figure how to get to the next room.
Besides enemies, gimmicks are introduced in various episodes, such as riding a lion-like animal in Episode 1, bees that you can fly on in Episode 2, going back and forth between the foreground and background in Episode 3, and much more. They tend to spice things up a bit, and no, they don’t make things any easier.
Now let’s talk about the bosses. The bosses in this game are unique in their own ways, so you won’t encounter the same boss a second time. You’ll have to learn how they maneuver, attack, and defend themselves.
The bosses may seem difficult at first, but once you get the hang of it there shouldn’t be any trouble in defeating them. I realized the key to defeating both the bosses and clearing the rooms were timing and being really really careful.
Besides the game’s four episodes, there’s a survival mode where hordes of enemies approach you and the horde gets stronger the longer you survive. I’ve survived for at least a minute or so and it’s a pretty good way to take a break from all the challenges you face in the episodes.
Besides single player, StarQuail has added a co-op mode for two players to enjoy in Tiny Barbarian DX. Similar to other games that support multiplayer on a single Switch, Tiny Barbarian DX supports one Joy-Con per player. Controls are exactly the same as how you would play in single player.
In my experience, co-op was much more enjoyable than playing alone as you can share the experience of facing difficult obstacles and enemies with another person. However if one player dies there’s no way for them to come back unless all of the players lose their health or the last player standing successfully makes it to the next room.
While co-op play was pretty smooth, there were some minor glitches that we experienced while playing the game. When co-op is started for the first time there’s no BGM, it’ll only return unless both players die. When we woke our Switch up from Sleep Mode, the second player mysteriously disappeared for no reason. We’ve reported these bugs to Nicalis, so hopefully they’ll be fixed in a patch.
Art and Music
Tiny Barbarian DX’s graphics are pretty similar to games that were made in the era of the SNES. The further you go you’ll realize the graphics start to become more detailed and lively with elaborate background scenery, enemies, and objects. There was even a rotating 3D-like tower in episode 3 that looked like something the Super FX chip would generate!
The music for the game wasn’t lacking as well, as it was very well polished. Although the music were composed in 16 bit style, each piece had a certain theme and encouraged the player to move forward and kill whatever the hell was there.
Tiny Barbarian DX is a very challenging title that I have enjoyed. Every single aspect of the game from level design, sound effects, music, and graphics, were highly polished and refined.
Some may say that paying 30 bucks isn’t worth for a game that provides at most 8 hours of content. I’d say the challenging 8 hours of gameplay will be a memorable experience for many.
If you’re looking for a 2D platformer on Nintendo Switch, Tiny Barbarian DX is a worthy addition to your library.
- Impressive level design
- Adrenaline-pumping 16 bit music
- Amazing graphics and art for a retro-inspired title
- Enjoyable 2 player co-op mode
- High difficulty level
- The glitches in co-op mode which will hopefully be fixed soon
Soup Verdict: The Best And Spiciest Tom Yum Soup You’ll Ever Taste In Your Entire Life.
Tiny Barbarian DX is now available at retail here and on the Nintendo eShop.
A review code was provided by Nicalis for the purpose of this review.