Day 119: Tobe’s Vertical Adventure

Posted: 2011/03/08 in Indie Games

I’m purchasing an Xbox Live Indie Game every day, seeking out the quality titles that got lost in the shuffle and are not well represented in the top 50 lists on the Xbox Dashboard. Today is day #119, and today’s game is “Tobe’s Vertical Adventure”.

Tobe’s Vertical Adventure is a two player 2D platformer where adding a second player is more than just window dressing: it actually changes the game in significant ways. The controls take a bit of getting used to, but once you’ve got the hang of them it’s an interesting, unique, and enjoyable experience.

First, from the developer:

“Tobe’s Vertical Adventure is a classic 2D platformer, where players join Tobe on his quest for the treasure of King Garuza. Play the game in single or co-op modes through hours of platforming fun, in 16 levels, on 4 unique islands! Get ready for Tobe, the little guy with the big head, big adventure! For more details, visit our website at http://tobesadventure.squarespace.com/”

In your typical platformer you can run and jump. In Tobe’s Vertical Adventure you can additionally run (both on floors and up walls), wall jump, roll, hang from ledges, and even climb up vines. And that’s what you can do when played singleplayer, but adding a second player adds another character, Nana, to the game and Tobe gains the additional ability to reach out and pull her up to join him on a platform.

The part that takes some getting used to is everything to do with the walls. Whether running up them or doing a wall jump, it takes a lot of practice to get the controls and the timing just right. Mind you, I felt the same way I played Halo (“I have to use both sticks, and the triggers, and the buttons, sometimes all simultaneously?!”), so the controls are quite conquerable with persistance. And it’s worth sticking with them, because the game is unlike anything else I’ve ever played. The variety of things Tobe and Nana can do open up a lot of different ways to navigate through each level, a welcome change from games that force you to approach a level in the one way a developer intended.

The game has twelve levels of cave exploration on offer, each quite large. The game is essentially non-violent, the one trick in your arsenal (jumping on an enemy’s head) merely stuns them briefly allowing you to pass. That essentially turns the game into an avoid-’em-up, where finding ways to get around enemies is more attractive than taking them on. As you play the game you find power-ups and item upgrades that make it easier to progress through the game (for example allowing Tobe to take more damage, or to slow his descent when falling). You have plenty of time to reach the bottom of each cave, but upon reaching it a cave-in changes the level forcing you to climb up against a strict time limit. This going down, then climbing back up is the inspiration for the “Vertical Adventure” part of this spelunking game. Finally, coins to collect, not to mention music tracks and artwork to unlock, gives the game some replay value for the completionists.

Tobe’s Vertical Adventure costs 240 Microsoft Points and is a good looking, uniquely playing, and very satisfying platformer.

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Comments
  1. Andrew says:

    I really wanted to like this game (I love the graphics and the concept), but I had trouble getting past the controls, even after the update.

    I still might pick it up at some point, however.

  2. Sadly, this is one of the handful of games on the indie channel that mysteriously aren’t available in the UK. Bah!

    • That sucks. I’ve found a few that I want to review that aren’t available in Canada, too. I’m not sure why any developer would do this, actually. I’m guessing some fail to release it into every market simply by accident, and probably don’t know they’ve limited it.

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