Tiny Barbarian DX is a 2D action-platformer that was recently greenlit on Steam. You control the Conan-esque main character in his quest to…save a princess, I think? Hang on and let me back things up for a minute, this game just finished kicking my ass and I need a minute to regroup my thoughts.
Tiny Barbarian DX doesn’t mess around. This is a retro style game, and it’s “NES hard”. Many games currently give you a “death count” while playing or upon completion (Angry Vdeo Game Nerd Adventures, Rogue Legacy, and Stealth Bastard Deluxe are three fine examples), and I died 35 times in the hour and 15 minutes it took me to get through the first chapter. Some of these deaths can be really frustrating and unfair, but luckily the game has auto-checkpoints every few screens. This isn’t “I Wanna Be the Guy”-tough, but it’s still pretty difficult.
When you begin the game, there are no tutorials whatsoever. Unlike a game like “They Bleed Pixels” which has a fairly robust tutorial system, Tiny Barbarian DX throws you to the wolves. You know you can attack and jump, and pressing them in combinations with each other and with the D-pad does stuff, but…I still can’t figure out how I did a jumping spin attack. To be honest, the first time I started playing, I didn’t even know the game had started yet. Before you even get a title screen, you’re thrust into the action. A group of baddies are climbing up a mountain, all the while the camera is scrolling up to show you standing at its peak.
PROTIP: This is where you start taking control.
You’re now in a king of the hill type showdown, facing off against a never-ending horde of increasingly difficult opponents. After you’re eventually defeated (or if you just jump off the mountain), the game will begin proper. You have a choice between “Adventure Mode” (the main game), or “vs. the Horde” (essentially the same as the intro). Going into Adventure Mode you’ll notice that there are 4 chapters, although only the first one, “The Serpent Lord”, is available to play. The other three are not attained by unlocking them. They are still currently being worked on, and will be free upon completion for anyone who already bought the game.
The music is chiptune-tastic. When you get frustrated by all the constant death, the music is there to keep you pumped and ready for action. A good example of this is my favorite track, “Rebirth”, which plays while you’re ascending a tower in a rudimentary elevator. I probably died in this section more than any other (the Serpent Lord battle being a close second), and it wasn’t so I could keep listening to the music. The soundtrack is available on Bandcamp, and is definitely worth a listen.
You may have noticed by now that I don’t really go into much (if any) detail about plot, characters, and storylines in my reviews. This is because I want you to experience these things for yourself. I will, however, tell you that your mighty steed is a giant kitty. If you want a fun, challenging game that’s low on story to the point of forgettable, high on action, and makes you feel like a badass for being able to get through it, check out Tiny Barbarian DX. And when you have gotten through it, just know that there are 3 more chapters to challenge you at some point in the future.