Three games that we originally missed have very recently been ported and released on new platforms. Time to take a closer look at Tiny Hands Adventure, Assault on Metaltron and Bob Help Them.
Tiny Hands Adventure (PS4)
We definitely didn’t see this one coming, because Tiny Hands Adventure has been out there since 2018 with a PC release and had already received Xbox One and Switch releases, so we thought its time had passed and it wasn’t coming to PlayStation. Publisher Forever Entertainment decided differently though, and has brought this retro 3D platformer by Blue Sunset Games to the PS4 after all.
It doesn’t take long to realize where the inspiration for Tiny Hands Adventure came from, as this is a platform adventure that looks quite a bit like Crash Bandicoot and Yooka-Laylee – the latter of course being its own take on the retro 3D platformer genre. Tiny Hands Adventure even comes with its own cartoon-like protagonist, and if you didn’t figure out the reference in the title…. Borti is a young T-Rex.
It’s too bad Borti didn’t receive more love in the design and animation department though, because he’s a rather stiff-looking dinosaur and I’m sure that younger gamers in particular would have loved a cuter and/or more well-rounded dinosaur hero – just look at the massive success of Gigantosaurus and Dinotrux to see how popular dinosaurs can be with the younger crowd.
Tiny Hands Adventure does feel like it was made for a younger audience though, with its colorful cartoon-like visuals and simplified gameplay. It can be a tad over-simplified in place though, as combat doesn’t feel super rewarding due to a lack of moves (Borti just whacks his tail around) and ditto visual feedback. Kids will likely not mind, but older gamers will have played better examples many times over.
The game’s certainly not an uninspired clone though – its developers must have had ambitious goals in mind and Tiny Hands Adventure features some very neat touches rarely seen in smaller indie productions. The camera is dynamic, shifting from a traditional 2.5D perspective to 3D and even scenes where the camera rotates around you as you scale a lighthouse. It’s impressive too see, but the experience feels like it could have used a bit more polish in a few key areas. The game made me miss the lovely music in the Spyro remakes, the tight and responsive controls in Yooka-Laylee and the personality of Crash Bandicoot. Tiny Hands Adventure isn’t horrible, but its “merely okay” quality isn’t going to make it the next big thing after wrapping up Crash 4. Younger, less discerning players might enjoy it quite a bit though – especially if they’re into dinosaurs.
Assault on Metaltron (PS4)
Previously released on the PC and Switch back in 2019 and then last year on Xbox One, Assault on Metaltron is another Forever Entertainment/Blue Sunset Games release that’s making its way to PS4 a little later. And while the title could suggest this being a Transformers spin-off, Assault on Metaltron is a fairly standard tower defense title that longtime fans of the genre should definitely enjoy – especially at its budget price point.
Assault on Metaltron doesn’t waste a lot of time on its narrative and backdrop, and just tasks you with the protection of your valuable energy-rich resources on a planet covered in metallic surfaces. You’re a large golem, and the incoming hordes are a mix of characters that feel like they were lifted from Warcraft II and Command & Conquer. There are more RTS nods as well, because instead of just using a pointer to click on where you want to place your turrets and which ones you want to upgrade, you’re actually on the battlefield with your golem, building up your defenses in real time.
The game consists of 40 stages, set over four thematically different looking areas of the planet, though the core formula stays the same and the difficulty level doesn’t ramp up a whole lot over time either. As with many tower defense titles, the incoming hordes will travel along a predetermined path, forcing you to think carefully about which defensive units to place where. Some might be slow to reload, but place them on a u-turn and they might still get an additional shot in. Other might work best from a ranged perspective, while others are weapons you want to hit the enemy with early on.
There’s no unlock tree and all of your units are available right from the start, and you gradually learn which ones offer the best cost to value ratio depending on a particular scenario. Upgrading is also possible, but there’s a way to save yourself a few credits by having your golem perform a little magic dance in order to get the upgrade for free. It’s a pretty silly mechanic, but it’s a good strategic layer to have when you consider whether you should take your golem out of the battle for a second to save a little money or not. Money is earned by killing enemies, so my experience was that the free upgrade option made the most difference early on in a level.
Another thing you learn over time is which enemy units are weaker against which weapons – which is something I would have enjoyed seeing in the UI or at least a tutorial or in-game guide. Expect a few “I guess that wasn’t the right turret to start with” restarts. But while the actual gameplay is rather formulaic from the perspective of the tower defense genre, the visual presentation is certainly unique. With a very “busy” visual style, the graphics are loud and colorful, giving them a cartoon-like feel.
Assault on Metaltron is a throwback to the classic tower defense games of a few years ago, but not any less enjoyable, especially in shorter bursts.
Bob Help Them (Nintendo Switch)
I was surprised to learn that Bob Help Them was originally released as a PC exclusive back in November, because it looks like such a natural fit with the Switch when you look at its gameplay and its visual style. That’s been corrected though, as developer Gagonfe has now brought the game to Nintendo’s ever-growing library of indie titles.
Though offering echoes of games like Stardew Valley, Bob Help Them is actually a simplified take on the formula, with you (as Bob) completing various tasks for the people around your village. They have their own lives and jobs as well, which determined what they’ll need from you in each of the 35 stages. The stages are time-limited in nature as well, so rather than sandboxing it up you’ll need to rush to get things done, sometimes in less than two minutes.
Many of your chores are simple fetch quests, but you’ll also need to exchange items to get what you want, something that’s mostly handled through recipes. In other cases, you’ll be petting dogs to be provided with (and provide) some love. Levels differ in what they ask of you (your goals are laid out at the start) and the difficulty level jumps up and down as well, but it’s never too challenging. Want more of a challenge? Then you can always go for better times and earn more stars for already completed stages.
Bob Help Them is a very casual take on a familiar genre, and while it’s not too complicated or involved it’s a nice and relaxed way to spend a few minutes at a time.