TIC: Part 1
July 9, 2011 6 Comments
Update: Tic: Part 1 is now only 80 Microsoft Points.
Damn you RedCandy Games! How is it possible you guys could make one of the most polished, beautiful, and enjoyable games on the entire indie marketplace and leave us begging for more after only three levels? That was very cruel of you. I seriously considered ignoring how much fun I had with TIC: Part 1 over the past couple hours out of spite for having only given us what I’m guessing is 25% of the intended finished product, but I won’t. I mean, if it’s good for Sega, it’s good for you.
The marketplace is over-saturated with games that want you to suffer while they giggle, but TIC feels more like a Nintendo platformer. It’s comforting and whimsical and various other cutesy words. It’s a game that cares about you and wants you to enjoy it, unlike games like Aban Hawkins & the 1000 Spikes where any accomplishment by the player has the game punching a hole through a wall. It’s even got an ultra-liberal environmental message attached to it. The world is being overrun by people drilling away all the natural resources, and you must stop them. Just replace “Mole People” with “Democrats” and and “EvilCorp” with “Halliburton” and you’ve got the official game of Obama’s re-election campaign.
You play as something that looks like a disembodied steam whistle from a locomotive riding a unicycle. And it hovers. And you stay afloat by touching acorns. If this sounds too surreal I’ll remind everyone that the most popular game character of all time ate magic mushrooms to grow big and walked around killing turtles by stomping them to death. Awesome games don’t have to make sense, which is good because TIC doesn’t make any sense at all. But I still loved my time with it.
Prospective indie developers, take note on how a game is made. TIC eases you gently into it’s world with a pair of opening levels that are light and breezy. You learn the controls, which are simple and effective. Move with the stick, hover with the A button, drill with the right trigger. You only unlock the drill once you’ve found fifteen silver acorns hidden in each world. To find them, you’ll have to take to the sky. You can only hover for so long, unless you touch a red acorn, which refills your energy meter. Once you’ve got the drill, you head through some underground caverns in search of an engine. Find the engine’s power source, destroy it, the engine dies and the giant drill it powers stops, completing the level. It’s very smooth and easy, with nothing resembling difficulty until the third level.
The controls are very precise, and my only complaint is that when you land your energy meter doesn’t instantly fill back up. Sometimes I wanted to land and immediately take off again, but the meter wasn’t full and I fell to my death. I never really got used to this, but it’s hardly a deal breaker. The music is very smooth, maybe even a little hypnotic, and the sound effects are well done. Of course, everyone is talking about the graphics, and yes, they’re spectacular. I feel that spending too much time talking about them might mislead people into believing that the only thing TIC has going for it is eye candy, and nothing could be further from the truth. But really, it looks good. Braid good.
TIC only has three levels, and that’s really a shame. Thankfully Red Candy Games has thrown us a few bones in the realm of unlockable challenges. You need 15 silver acorns to get the drill in each level, but there’s actually thirty hidden in each one, along with three giant golden acorns. Finding all of these opens up some extra challenges, and getting them all doesn’t feel like busy work. In a way, TIC channels the best scavenger-hunt sections of Banjo-Kazooie and places them within a 2-D world. It works well, and stretches a download that could easily be completed in under an hour into a somewhat lengthy and hugely satisfying diversion. The main game isn’t really all that difficult, but some of the stuff (such as the 100 purple acorn challenge) can have you ripping your hair out. Once again, TIC serves as a “how it should be done” lesson for indie developers, building a playable and joyous main feature and putting the tough stuff off to the side as a bonus.
I’m new to indie games, so this doesn’t really mean all that much, but TIC: Part 1 is the best game I’ve yet played on the indie marketplace. It’s well designed, original, and gorgeous. Truth be known, Microsoft should have caught wind of this in development and thrown the guys at RedCandy a lifeboat in the form of a full-scale release as an Xbox Live Arcade Game, complete with all bells and whistles. Simply put, TIC is so good it makes all other indie games look bad by comparison. I wasn’t sure how I felt about 240 Microsoft Points for what is in essence 25% of a game, but all the extra challenges helped to make this feel more complete. You better not rest of your laurels RedCandy, because if Parts 2-4 suck we’ll storm your offices with torches, pitchforks, and a BFG 9000.
240 Microsoft Points were drilled by a disembodied steam whistle from a locomotive riding a unicycle in the making of this review.