Friday, December 15, 2017

TY the Tasmanian Tiger 3: Night of the Quinkan

After the release of TY 2, Krome Studios developed a follow-up game, TY the Tasmanian Tiger 3: Night of the Quinkan, released the following year in 2005. While introducing some additional gameplay mechanics, the game notably draws on Australian folklore for its new enemies, the titular Quinkan. For now, let’s see how TY the Tasmanian Tiger 3 handles this concept and whether it’s enough to mix things up a bit from its predecessors.

TY as he appears in TY 3.

Some time after the events of TY 2, TY and Shazza are summoned by the Bunyip Elder to the Dreamtime, where they must stop an ancient enemy known as the Quinkan from overtaking the Dreaming. After fighting through a gauntlet of enemies, TY obtains the Quinkan Gauntlet, which allows him to actually fight the Quinkan via Close Rang Combat. As TY and Shazza return to the real world, a rogue Quinkan attacks them, throwing off TY and causing him to arrive after Shazza following some additional Dreamtime training. After following a thylacine name Ridge, TY discovers that Burramudgee has changed in the 6 months he’d been gone, as an invasion of Quinkan has turned Southern Rivers into a war zone. TY must now help take down the Quinkan in order to restore balance to Southern Rivers.

The gameplay of TY 3 is generally similar to TY 2, though there are still some differences. The biggest difference is perhaps the way Rangs work in this game; rather than buying Rangs with given abilities, you instead buy Chassis that do not feature their own abilities until customized with Stones. There are multiple Chassis types with their own features (ex. grappling, remote control) and number of Stone slots. Stones grant the Rangs powers such as electricity, fire, or even up to slowing down time, with these abilities upgraded by having 2+ Stones of the same type together (ex. 2 water Stones gives the Rang a freezing ability); there’s also compatibility of different Stones being used together, though this is something I did not explore in-depth. (Protip: While these abilities are meant to aid in Close Rang Combat or dealing with certain situations, you don’t really need much else when you have the Duo Chassis (2 slots) and 2 Earth Stones, which creates an explosion that allows you to essentially bypass the Close Rang Combat entirely in addition to opening metal crates you can find for more Opals.)

TY (right) battling Quinkan (left).

The open world returns from TY 2, though much bigger this time and with a different layout, plus you ride the Crabmersible to travel around the world rather than the decommissioned Bush Rescue jeep. The Crabmersible is also a little more versatile since it can travel underwater, plus losing all your health while driving it will revive you on the spot, even after you passed an outhouse. The world of Southern Rivers is split into two sections, Burramudgee and Cassopolis, with their namesake towns each featuring their own Rang Shops and environments/characters to interact with, with Bunyip shops being located throughout the world. As with TY 2, buying from each Rang Shop will get you different Chassis and Stones, so you will have to make the long trek all the way to Cassopolis to get certain things, which sometimes made me wish fast travel was a thing at the time.

The Kart Racing minigame makes a return here, and with it the addition of a Gunyip minigame that can also be accessed from the main menu. However, rather than being completely optional, the story absolutely requires you to play through some Gunyip and Kart stages to advance. The Kart missions can be particularly annoying since, on top of having to come in first, you are often required to complete some outrageous objectives that can require several tries to get right. In general, the game feels a bit more vehicle-centric compared to the previous two games, since there’s now hardly any points where you are actually on-foot, which ended up being somewhat of a disappointment for me. This would be rectified with TY the Tasmanian Tiger 4, however I’m getting ahead of myself.

The new means of traversing Southern Rivers.
(Finding usable screenshots is still difficult.)

The graphics continue to improve over the previous game, featuring a minor art style upgrade to make things a little more stylized. There isn’t much in terms of random wildlife running about, though their general absence makes some amount of sense given the premise of the Quinkan invasion. As with the previous games, the sound design is really good, with the background music sounding familiar, yet different enough from its predecessors. As for the voice acting, it’s evident that every (main) character suffers from Dante Disease, however I appreciate them trying to still sound consistent enough with the previous voices; while they still sound a little different, you do get used to them after a while. The subtitle issue from previous games persists here, though I’m aware the first three games came out at a point before cutscene subtitles became a more common option in games.

TY the Tasmanian Tiger 3: Night of the Quinkan once again improves over the previous game visually, though it has some issues gameplay-wise. While I don’t know much about Australian folklore, the fact that the mythological Quinkan were used as the main villains adds a unique flavor to the game to help it stand out a little from the games it was evidently influenced by. I would still recommend TY 3 to Ty fans, primarily so the story for TY 4 makes more sense, whereas newcomers are better off still going through the first two games first in order to better follow along with the plot and character dynamics. As with TY 1 and TY 2, if you don’t own or can’t obtain/play a sixth-generation console copy of the game, TY 3 is also available for purchase on the Steam digital distribution platform.

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