For us old-timer gamers we’ve seen the gaming genre as a whole change a lot over the years. We grew up in the days of 8-bit and 16-bit titles that made no effort to hold you hand and, despite the pixelated graphics, transported us to a whole new world to explore and be a part of. If you find yourself missing that experience and don’t have the time to dumpster dive for an Atari, you’ll be sure to find a home with your Nintendo Switch and Tiny Barbarian DX. This is our Tiny Barbarian DX Switch review.
When you purchase Tiny Barbarian DX you’re buying into a four episode, action-packed, 80’s retro experience. Each of the four episodes are long enough to almost feel like their own mini-game. Within each episode, you have multiple areas, and within each area, you have multiple “rooms”. These rooms are the size of your switch screen, so instead of a sliding transition when you reach the end you’ll experience a complete fade out to load another room. Within each room are a series of jumps, enemies, spikes and more that you have to traverse. Your hero has six health points, deducted by each hazard you may face, and can be replenished with chicken legs and whole chickens you’ll find as you explore.
I firmly believe a game like this rests its laurels on its combat and control scheme and Tiny Barbarian DX does not disappoint in either. The controls are intuitive which in turn makes combat intuitive. Attacking enemies is a one key job, giving you a nice slashing animation which can be modified with your d-pad buttons allowing you to slash up, slash while jumping, and throw the meanest elbow drop you’ll ever see. Oh, and another thing: this game is HARD but not frustratingly so. You’ll find that some rooms (or embarrassingly almost all the room) and definitely some boss fights will take multiple attempts. And with multiple attempts comes a wonderful feeling of achievement when you finally make it through. It has all the makings of a great speed-run game and I can only hope we see some speed-run streams in the future.
Despite being a retro pixel game your eyes will have some candy to gaze at. The backgrounds are fantastically crafted (not that you’ll have time to stare at them) and the animations are damn-near perfect. So despite the fact that our hero is made out of twenty pixels, it feels like more. The music and sound effects benefit from today’s hardware without compromising the retro feel and believe me, you’ll absolutely love the soundtrack. Starting the game up for the first time brought a smile to my face the moment the music started and gave me the curious feeling that I should be watching the kids of Stranger Things be playing this instead of me. The love and attention that was shown to the development shine through with these little things, right down to a certain button combination playing a giggle-worthy flex animation.
In contrast to the classic NES-style retro games, we all grew to love (and hate) losing your progress isn’t something you’ll have to worry about. Each room acts as a checkpoint in your progress so taking a break to play some Zelda or Minecraft won’t have you starting back from the beginning again. (Who else remembers ill-timed power outages during the final boss fight of games like Aladdin *cringe*).
Overall Tiny Barbarian DX is a title worth your time. Whether you’re an older gamer like me chasing the experience we had in our youth, or a newcomer to the retro genre, it’s worth your time. You’re in for hours of entertainment from one playthrough alone, and even more, if you’re a completionist that craves finding all the secrets a game has to offer. So do yourself a favor: load up the eShop (or Steam if you don’t have a Switch), search for Tiny Barbarian DX, click the ‘buy’ button and settle in for a great time.
Note: Our copy was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by PR.
OVERALL SCORE: 9/10
- Challenging, but not frustrating
- Fantastic Soundtrack
- Perfectly nostalgic
- May be too challenging for some
- Retro style may be a turn-off