Tiny and Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers is a third-person physics puzzler with a unique set of gameplay mechanics that guarantees an experience unlike any other before it. Players assume the role of Tiny, who is on a quest to reclaim his grandfather’s bequeathed underpants from Big; an equally besotted – if slightly more megalomaniacal grandson. Big flees to higher ground with the sought-after garments on his head, setting the stage for Tiny to platform his way through a world made out of intricately-arranged objects that can be sliced, pushed, pulled, and launched via miniature rocket to facilitate traversal.
The core mechanics are explained via a series of training missions presented in a monochromatic, Game Boy style (lest you forgot about the game’s Indie Cred, it makes sure to bow at the altar of videogame nostalgia before getting underway) – the tutorial is perhaps a little too exhaustive, considering what the first level entails, but the charm and novelty should be enough to keep most gamers engaged.
There are no puzzles in the game that present a hard-stop. If you’re stumped at a section, it’s either because you’ve broken the puzzle, which unfortunately will happen given the level of freedom offered, or missed something in the environment. There’s always a beam that can be cut down to form a bridge, or some structure that can be sliced at an angle to provide a ramp to whatever lays out of reach (unless of course, you’ve launched it into oblivion and need to improvise).
Despite how straightforward it is, there’s something uniquely satisfying about the extent to which you can assert your influence on the environment – think along the lines of Minecraft, but different in that the manipulation is constantly in service of progression.
My appreciation for the core mechanics didn’t wane over the course of the game, as I was goofing around with the cutting tools right up until the final level, enjoying the gigantic rock-slides I could trigger with a few well placed cuts, or taking incredibly obtuse paths through the environment, just to see what I could find.
Every now and again, Big interferes with the player’s quest, leading to interesting scenarios in which your attention must be split between carefully navigating a hazardous environment, and avoiding the sizable projectiles dropping from the sky. Cutting a beam down the middle of an oncoming boulder and watching its halves diverge a hair’s breadth away from Tiny’s fragile body is one of the game’s highlights.
The graphics boast a hand-drawn style, with the characters in particular looking like margin doodles come to life. Items glow with wavy squiggles around them, and the textures are sharp and detailed, which makes for a very legible game world, and lends itself to expressive cutscenes.
The action is scored to a collection of instrumental tracks from varied genres, which can thankfully be skipped or disabled through in-game commands (one of the more useful tidbits in the tutorial). The game doesn’t feature any voice acting; instead the characters converse through speech bubbles, supplemented by N64-style grunts to convey the tone, but the banter is generally fun, and rarely overstays its welcome.
For just $10, Tiny & Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers is a solid physics-platform puzzler that has plenty of charm, and successfully pulls off its unique concept. That said, the core design is a shallow well that doesn’t do quite enough to keep the experience fresh, which may be why the game cannily ends after three hours or so. It’s a fun world to play around in, with plenty of collectibles to fetch, and achievements to work on for those inclined, but I felt little need to return to the world of Tiny and Big once the narrative had arrived at its (remarkably satisfying) conclusion.
Title:Tiny and Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers