Tiny Dangerous Dungeons [$0.99] is a pixel based platformer with a Gameboy styling which plays out in a Metroidvania level designed world. You must explore and find objects which can be used to access different areas, such as water walking boots or the ability to push blocks.
I’ve been seeing a lot of these Gameboy-esk games coming out lately, another notable title being Jack B. Nimble.
Although they look the part, sporting the classic pixel art and monochromatic colour pallet, so far most have fallen short in terms of creating a quality comparison between the legendary Gameboy and some of it’s classics.
One thing I have noticed with many of these Gameboy styled mobile games is that they seem to run on lower frame rates. These days it’s pretty common to be treated to 60fps experiences with pixels gliding across the screen as smooth as silk.
In TDD, if you walk your player across the screen you can clearly see the terrain chopping along to closer to 25-30fps. With that said, it definitely does help to simulate the look of an older game, but if in fact lower frame rates are being used intentionally to help sell the retro feel, I highly disapprove of this practice. Even if your game is an 8-bit style, it is better to run it at a higher frame rate to give a more responsive user experience. There are of course exceptions to be found and it’s by no means a rule, but in the case of TDD it probably should have run at a higher frame rate.
The game uses onscreen controls with virtual buttons for left, right, jump, and attack. The size and spacing balance feels good, however several times I found my jump not firing, which resulted in my cutsie character falling into a pits of lava.
The game starts you off without any weapons to wield, so you have to get around enemies with just your wits. Shortly after you find a sword which allows you to throw blades, this makes the game significantly more fun to play.
I have to say, I’m getting real tired of platformers which only allow the player to jump, so when I started this game I was like ‘here we go again’, so it was a little treat to find a treasure chest with a hidden sword. Very Legend of Zelda.
The game is relatively good, and it’s clear significant effort went into it, there are a few annoyances though.
I really dislike the map system in this game. Rather than telling you your exact location, it highlights the general area you are in and isn’t clear on how to get from one area to the next. I found myself lost on several occasions, aimlessly roaming around the same areas, this can get boring fast.
It feels like this aspect is possibly by design to prolong the experience, without saying it’s frustrating.
I actually found myself raging a few times while playing, often due to the level design. At times it feels like the difficulty curve is disjointed with a level transitioning from easy to super hard in the space of a few jumps.
The game has a beautiful music track, but it gets a little too familiar as does the limited pool of sound effects. A little more variation would have gone a long way, but damn that music track is sweet on the ear drums.
The game could have been much more as it has a great foundation. The problem is, it doesn’t take and risks or do anything different. It’s just a run of the mill platformer, walk, jump, attack, collect some items… Good good, but not great.
Feel free to decide for yourself