Having first launched a few years ago on Wii U and Steam, BitFinity’s Tadpole Treble Encore makes a return on Nintendo Switch featuring all of the same great content as before, along with the addition of an all-new stage towards the end of the game and a new original vocal song. But by and large, this is the same great indie adventure it was a few years ago, and it was an absolute joy to play through it again.
Tadpole Treble Encore sets itself apart from other music games by giving you quite the role to play — a tadpole… with the power of music! Protagonist Baton is a young hatchling of a tadpole at the onset of the journey, and her curiosity gets her into trouble after she swims too far out from her home stream and gets scooped up by a crane. After escaping the crane’s mouth, Baton lands in a completely different part of the island she lives on and must now make the treacherous journey back home to her family. Baton’s journey will take her through a variety of different locales that include natural hazards, huge predators, and a lot of tune-tastic music to keep your feet tapping until the end of the game.
Moving and shaking
Controlling Baton is simple; you use the stick or D-Pad to quickly shift her up and down the staff (musical lines) of each level. The staff is filled with spiky notes that must be avoided, or else they will hurt Baton. There are little health pellets to replenish her health meter. Additionally, there are bubbles to collect that will increase your score, along with sticks of bamboo to whip with your tail that also increase your score.
The longer you avoid damage and collect the bubbles, the more your score will rise. And hitting special cymbals at just the right moment will fling Baton either above or below the level, also scoring her more points. Keep up the chain and her Treble Charge will fill, allowing her to go into Treble Mode, making her swim a little faster and temporarily invincible for a few seconds. All of this makes Tadpole Treble Encore a rhythm game with the mechanics of an on-rails action title. It’s all about timing and precision, leading to bigger scores and better ranks at the end of a level.
Admittedly, Tadpole Treble Encore is not a long game by any means.
You can get from the first to the last level in about two hours under normal circumstances. The real longevity comes with trying to perfect every level to get the coveted S-rank. Alternatively, you can fail so badly on purpose that you unlock the secret developer commentary for each level. Additionally, there are various challenges to complete in each level, like finding the coveted challenge flies under specific circumstances. This adventure is as small as a pond but as deep as a lake.
The developers at BitFinity did an excellent job at blending compelling music and level design together to create a superb overarching experience. It stays fresh, exciting, and interesting from the first level to the finale. Whether it’s an instrumental or a vocal song, the tempo, genre, and overall “sound” (if that makes any sense) simply hits just right.
The developers clearly put a lot of thought and effort into each piece, and it must not have been an easy task to match the on-screen action with the music, on top of the task of designing each level around the songs.
Tadpole Treble Encore puts a lot of heart into its visuals too. Most of the graphics consist of hand-drawn animation, with, as mentioned before, each level having a very specific theme. So, no two levels look the same.
There’s even a neat homage to retro titles with one of the levels, aptly named Chiptune Lagoon, featuring a 16-bit graphical style with a music track that sounds like it was made for a SNES game. Again, you’ll find this attention to detail oozing throughout the entire game, giving the overall package an original charm of its own. Better yet, you can take advantage of Tadpole Treble‘s powerful mechanics to build levels of your own, thus leading you to compose your own song at the same time.
Ultimately, Tadpole Treble Encore is absolutely worth the pick-up.
Whether this is your first rodeo in Tadpole Treble’s Thunder Creek or you’re deciding to visit the likes of the totally-not-Frank Sinatra male tadpole in Midnight Bayou for the 50th time (because that song is just awesome), you’re bound to have a great time with Baton and her exciting adventure.
A review code was provided by the publisher.