Tadpole Treble Encore attempts to offer a unique combination of musical rhythm mechanics tied into a bullet-hell shooter, which in ways, makes for a unique experience. Does it live up to its uniqueness or does it ultimately fail to hit all the proper notes? Find out in our review.
- Whether you are playing this game for catchy tunes
- A (surprisingly) heartfelt story, or twitchy reflex testing gameplay you will be able to get a little bit of everything.
- The composition mode gives you great ways to either be creative or challenge yourself.
- As long as the at times, conflicting tones of the story and songs are acceptable, then the game will be one that will be enjoyable and fun in short bursts.
- The story often conflicts with the music, but the gameplay is tight and easy to do.
When you play many different games, it is very easy to tell what you are playing, whether it be a first-person shooter, a role-playing game, or even an obvious rhythm game you know what you are playing. This is usually the status quo and it is what people are used to, but this game defies the standard and makes it fun, whether you know what is going on or not.
Tadpole treble starts out as a standard music game, even on a musical staff. It has a simple and fun art style that lends simplicity to functionality and makes it seem like you will be focusing on the music. The game changes the rules right after and then decides that you aren’t going to hit the notes like most rhythm games, you are going to dodge them. The first glance judgment of this game is strictly a music game that goes right out the door when you start dodging the rocks (notes) strewn throughout the level.
When the music notes begin, Tadpole Treble Encore turns into a bullet hell title
Tadpole even has a life bar at the top of the screen so you can keep an eye on how much damage the rocks are doing to you. Obstacles are strewn about and you even get a way to go through them, if you can dodge enough to charge up the “treble bar”. The obstacles on the screen keep going and change around depending on the level you are in (but I won’t go too much further based on story reasons).
A good description of this game turns into “bullet hell” as the music heats up and turns to a nice platformer when things go more leisurely. Deciding which label sticks to this game is harder to pin down than the protagonist Treble is to pin down for the various animals chasing her throughout the game. Honestly, once you start playing the game it turns out the label doesn’t really matter.
The game is simply a story of a tadpole trying to get home, and this is where things turn a tad bit…different. The gameplay stays consistent throughout, but the songs change tone throughout the game to change with the story and convey story points that draw the player into treble’s journey. This point would be a great way to create an adventure that not only tugs at the heartstrings, but shows how triumph over adversity is still a story people want to hear.
The adventure home is beautiful, musical, and animated as it gets, but at a cost
However, the songs chosen tend to be almost too showy and theatrical. The tones of the songs go with the regions treble is traveling through, but some of the theatrical tones tend to draw away from the story and focus too much on what is going on in that particular moment.
The differences in tone and story make an almost discordant feeling between what you are trying to do and some of the songs you play. Once a person gets over that odd feeling of awkwardness, they can focus on the great musical score and tight controls that make a great and fun game.
Apart from the adventure mode, there is also the composition mode available from the beginning. Composition mode is exactly as it sounds, with a tadpole twist. The mode lets you make song courses using an interface very similar to a synthesizer.
You can choose which instrument to place in whichever note on the staff you would like it to be and it creates the obstacle you choose to use. After that, it just makes the song as you place notes and you make the course with the song you like. Tadpole gives you the option to make a great song, a crazy course, or a combination of both.
Whether you are playing this game for catchy tunes, a (surprisingly) heartfelt story, or twitchy reflex testing gameplay you will be able to get a little bit of everything. The composition mode gives you great ways to either be creative or challenge yourself.
Tadpole Treble Encore
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Version Reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: Available Now
As long as the, at times, conflicting tones of the story and songs are acceptable, then the game will be one that will be enjoyable in short bursts. The story often conflicts with the music, but the gameplay is tight and easy to do. As long as they add more to the game options, I could see this game being great, but for now, it just needs a little bit more.
Our review is based upon a retail version of the game provided to us by the publisher for the review. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Zack Patton is a contributing writer who has a love for music, Final Fantasy XIV, and a game with a story that can capture one’s imagination. His expertise comes with his ability to deeper understand, explain, and evaluate games, their stories, and their impacts in unforeseen ways.