Tuffy the Corgi and the Tower of Bones

Action Button Entertainment is really good at making fun, simple, tough-as-nails games, but it’s even better at making commercials for them. If you don’t want to play Tuffy the Corgi and the Tower of Bones after watching this ad, I don’t know what your deal even is:

Tuffy the Corgi is just as fun and adorable as it sounds. The controls (hit a button or the screen on the left to turn, on the right to jump) are exactly the same as the last game I reviewed, Spacepants. Except instead of spacepants propelling the protagonist ever forward, it’s boundless corgi energy. Tuffy jumps and bounces up the enormous Tower of Bones, trying to collect all 108 bones along the way and wearing the most precious little pink cape. It is very, very cute and very, very hard.

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The level design is fantastic: insanely difficult but fair. The graphics and music are cute and delightful. The game generally feels very tight and precise. A lot of developers make little effort to make the basic movements and mechanics of a game pleasurable (I recently tried to play Kingdom Hearts again and found it very hard to push through the jerky, unnatural running and jumping mechanics), but this has never been a problem for Action Button Entertainment. When Tuffy lands from a great distance, s/he stands still for a brief moment to give the player a moment to adjust to the new location. Little common sense touches like those are crucial to an excellent video game, but many developers, whether big companies or tiny indies, let them slip by. 

Unfortunately, the fact that the game is one huge level with no checkpoints could be a turnoff for a lot of people. With the popularity of Dark Souls and the return of roguelikes, being extremely unforgiving is in vogue. It’s a trait I often quite enjoy in games. But there’s so much tower to see and most people are probably not going to see much it, as the game starts out difficult and never lets up. The ad claims Tuffy the Corgi is harder than Dark Souls. It is. By quite a margin.

Tim Rogers, chief of Act2014-06-27-015856ion Button Entertainment (and my heart), says Tuffy the Corgi was inspired by the time he played through Super Mario Bros 3 without dying or taking a hit. I think Tuffy the Corgi does successfully capture the feeling of speedrunning a beloved old platformer. The aesthetics, mechanic, and level design create that mixture of tension, urgency and joy. But that style of gameplay won’t always appeal to everyone; I could definitely understand if someone didn’t want to spend $5.99 to play through the opening moments of a game dozens of times. I believe in the vision behind the choice to make it a single, long, nearly insurmountable challenge, but I still think it would have been a good idea to include the option of having checkpoints. 

Even though I still haven’t made it very far up the tower and I’ve played the beginning so, so many times, I’m still enjoying it quite a lot. If you’re the type of person to play through your favorite games with arbitrary, difficult restrictions, then you would probably love Tuffy the Corgi and the Tower of Bones.

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Tuffy the Corgi and2014-06-27-020323 the Tower of Bones was developed by Action Button Entertainment for the Playstation Mobile platform.

$5.99 is upset this game tracks your deaths and how many bones you’ve collected, as the ratio is not flattering.

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One Response to Tuffy the Corgi and the Tower of Bones

  1. Tim Hurley says:

    Took some time getting used to the ‘always on the move’ controls, but I quite enjoyed the game… not that I’ll ever get near the top of the tower. Seems like the kind of title you’ll want to revisit every once in awhile, to see if you’ve improved any. Plus, come on, it’s got a corgi. Adorable.

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