Tag Archives: The Tiny Bang Story

There is no story in The Tiny Bang Story

gd the tiny bang story final thoughts

I think I ended up getting The Tiny Bang Story in one of the first Steam sales I ever participated in, grabbing it because it was über inexpensive and had a fantastic, whimsical art style, similar to Machinarium. I then allowed the casual point-and-clicker to sit quietly and ignored in my Steam library for a good while, eventually giving it an unsuccessful go during my Extra Life stream this past October. Yeah, turns out, playing slow-moving, atmospheric puzzlers does not make for thrilling entertainment, nor does getting stuck in the opening chapter because I couldn’t locate X, Y, and Z. Still, something was there, and so I returned to Colibri Games’ indie mosquito-catching simulator recently to solve every puzzle it contained.

But first, here’s the most disappointing thing about The Tiny Bang Story–there is no story. At least not a solid narrative throughout. Sure, there’s some light setup, but it is just window dressing for…item gathering and random puzzles. See, life on Tiny Planet was pretty relaxing until a great disaster struck–a meteor, that is! Now everything is a mess, and it’s up to, the player, the one with the power to click a mouse button, to restore Tiny Planet back to its peacefulness. You do this by fixing a variety of machines and mechanisms, as well as collecting hidden jigsaw puzzle pieces. That’s the story, and that’s all you get. The rest is left up to your imagination because you’ll get absolutely zero clues no matter how many times you click on those characters.

The gist of the gameplay involves clicking. Click on stuff until a sidebar pops up to tell you what to collect and how many in order for the selected item to work. In reality, The Tiny Bang Story is a very pretty “find the hidden items” game, the kind my mother and I used to play together on the Nintendo DS. There’s no time limit to any of the puzzles, and the game autosaves at nearly every turn, so if you are tired of straining your eyes in search of that one, teeny, tiny light-bulb you can always come back to it later. Which I did. Many puzzles are logic-based while others just ask to you click around enough times; I found a few to be initially difficult because, since there is no story or even text in this game, I did not know what was desired. I struggled the most with the puzzles based around sliding or rearranging tiles because I’ve never been any good at those.

Okay, besides the lack of story, I do have another peeve to pick: the hint system is tedious. In games like Professor Layton, you can collect hidden coins in the screen to spend on clues to help you solve puzzles. That idea is here, too. Sort of. On every screen you visit, there are blue mosquitoes that softly buzz around; if you click on them, you’ll collect them in a bubble at the top right corner, and once you have enough, you can summon a single mosquito to circle around a specific area if you missed something or don’t know where to click next. Fine, fine. Except clicking on the tiny bugs is harder than you first imagine, and then you quickly realize you’re going to need to click on far too many of them just to get a single hint. Like, I think maybe at 14 or 15. No thank you, I’ll just look up an online walkthrough.

Now, while many of the puzzles were hit or miss, the enchanting soundtrack was always spot on. After you complete a chapter, you get to play with the jigsaw puzzle pieces you collected along the way, filling in the picture of Tiny Planet itself. These moments are so soothing that I found myself moving each piece into its slot slower and slower, not wanting it to end. Some might see this as a rather boring task in a game, but the soundtrack and visuals work in unison here to really create something atmospherically pleasing. Plus, the picture in the puzzle moves–kind of like photos in the Harry Potter universe–which helps keep you immersed in completing it.

I thought The Tiny Bang Story was going to be something else, a more narrative-driven adventure game. What it ultimately is isn’t bad; in fact, I had a pretty good time in its kooky and unexplainable world, especially playing around with those jigsaw puzzle pieces at the close of every chapter, but I think this means I need to whet my point-and-click adventuring appetite and finally get around to Beneath a Steel Sky or To the Moon. Or just be content that I recently played Botanicula and it was everything I wanted it to be.

Shapik: The Quest is a magical twenty minutes elsewhere

shapik the quest overall

I was not in the mood to go out for lunch today, and so I stayed in, gobbling up my turkey-and-cheese spinach wrap in record time and washing it all down with a bottle of Arizona green tea. No, really–I ate super fast today, and so I had some free time during my lunchbreak, and what better way to fill free time with than freeware. In this scenario, I’m speaking specifically about a little point-and-click darling called Shapik: The Quest, which you can play totally for free in your browser over at NewGrounds.

Now, there are countless little adventure freeware games out there, but Shapik stood out mainly on its visuals. It’s fantastic art is like a criss-cross of Samorost 2 and Botanicula/The Tiny Bang Story (both owned, but not yet played), with colorful, kooky critters standing out in a cutesy way against detailed and other worldly backgrounds. You start out in a magical forest and end in more modern locations, like a building’s interior and roof, but those places still retain a unique look to set them apart from what one might deem traditional. All along, there’s ambient music that is evocative, but not distracting, and no voiced dialogue, just grunts and sound effects and pictures in word balloons a la Machinarium, which helps keep the magic self-contained.

But what is Shapik’s quest? Why am I playing this freeware point-and-clicker? I’m glad you asked. Allow me to copy/paste the game’s description and control scheme, bad grammar left as is, as presented on its NewGrounds site:

This is a story of Shapik, traveling through magic forest in search of his missing sister. Explore a beautiful world, full of mystery, magic and danger and find your missing sister, solving puzzles on your way.

Use your mouse.

Right. You are Shapik, a kind creature of the forest, your sister was stolen by bug-like things for unknown reasons, and you are off to rescue her. That doesn’t take very long, spanning nine individual screens, each of which has maybe two or three puzzles to solve. I ended up finishing it all in around twenty minutes, road-blocked only in two cases: once for a cryptic doorlock code, and the second for figuring out how to overload a furnace. There is no inventory; you just click on things, and either Shapik interacts with it or his bee friend will, and the puzzles themselves are very straightforward, such as using a crane to lift a hatch open.

So that was pretty enjoyable. Really, if you’ve got twenty to thirty minutes to kill, give Shapik: The Quest a go. Oh, and since it’s my blog and my gaming history, I’m counting it as one more done for 2013.