Ty The Tasmanian Tiger 2: Bush Rescue is one of those mythical games I’d find myself mentioning to friends whenever the PS2 came up in conversation, hoping to find just one other person who played it. A solid platformer in its own right, TY is still the only true blue, fair-dinkum Aussie game series ever made. What a pleasant surprise it was almost 20 years later to find that most of the original Krome Studios team (and a passionate community of Kickstarter contributors) had brought the magic to PS4 with a HD remaster of the first TY game in late 2020. Another year later and the vastly-superior sequel has finally joined the party on PC, PS4, Xbox One & Nintendo Switch. It certainly has big shoes to fill, so let’s dive in to see what works, what doesn’t, and how the gameplay holds up in 2021.
This latest port is one of the major highlights in what has been a noticeably lacklustre year for PS4 gamers, and may prove decently successful in a growing market for upbeat games which aren’t too difficult or intense for casual gamers. When Lawn Mowing Simulator is listed alongside AAA most-anticipated titles, you know that either A) something is terribly wrong, and/or B) people just want to chill out and play happy games right now. But if you belong to the latter camp and have been gaming for a while, it’s possible that something like Journey, Abzu or Yoga Master isn’t quite going to cut it. We need the feeling of a ‘proper’ game, at the end of the day… and sometimes, true relaxation can come only from the familiarity of a well-made, colourful, wacky old platformer.
After an action-packed entrée mission, the game properly begins with Ty launching his Steve Irwin-style “Bush Rescue Center” in Burramudgee Town, the game’s main on-foot hub world. Dastardly villain Boss Cass is raising an army of bio-engineered super mutant soldiers by kidnapping and experimenting on the local population. You end up going back and forth through Burramudgee quite a bit, so maybe resist the urge to comb through it straight away (as you’ll need to upgrade your boomerangs to get all the collectables here, anyhow). There are two main hub worlds, the other being a vehicle-only section with stopping points that generally house mission worlds or vehicle races. You can also go for a swim at the beach which is totally rad.
Although Ty is indeed a platformer at its core, it skilfully dons enough different hats to keep from ever going stale. There are timed delivery quests, helicopter missions, Bunyip mech missions, boss battles, vehicle races in a Mario Kart format which are actually wicked fun (plus a dedicated Cart Racer accessible from the main menu) and much more, with plenty of hidden items to collect for those chasing 100% completion. This is a totally achievable goal which shouldn’t take more than about 10-15 hours maximum, and if you want to do it on your first run, go right ahead. There are also no difficulty tiers whatsoever. This will come as a perplexing move for some, and I do echo the calls for an additional hard/hardcore mode to be added, but for me every stubborn decision by Krome to keep players on the straight and narrow in Ty 2 ultimately helps the game to flow as it should.
For example, when first driving around the vehicle hub world, I thought ‘it would be cool if you could exit the car anywhere and explore the surrounding bushland…’ but then I realised that I do that in most open-world games, and tend to get bored of it very easily. Plus there would really be no point, and Ty is all about trimming the fat to keep players moving from mission to mission at a brisk pace. Though not too brisk… another thing new players may find frustrating is the lack of a sprint button. Rest assured this was not an oversight and you might appreciate it after a few hours. We are used to zipping around like mad in so many modern games, but here it works as you get to soak up all the truly wonderful locations, and shouldn’t miss many collectables along the way. Maybe it’s not so exciting for those who’ve never been Down Under, but I guarantee you will flip out every time you see an Aussie plant or animal that you recognise (even more so if you’re familiar with the South East Queensland / Northern New South Wales area… there are a few surprises I won’t spoil!).
The love that Krome has put into their models, textures, and even skyboxes is plain to see – their own proprietary Merkury Engine was built from the ground up for the original games, but they upgraded the engine to Version 2 just for TY2HD, which is perhaps a sign we will see Ty 5 or a new console game from Krome in future.
This series is also very much about mateship and community, so one of Ty’s quirky pals is never far away, and it is a very accessible experience overall, suitable for kids of all ages as there isn’t anything too scary or disturbing to confront. Plus the humour is great, wholesome but genuinely hilarious. There is some pointed yet warm Australian socio-political commentary within, mainly in the form of classic Aussie stereotypes that are depicted in the numerous and very memorable NPCs. The best jokes and references will likely go over younger gamers’ heads, as the writing is more than adequate to keep older gamers amused as well.
The game takes cues and inspiration from several well known titles, but never strays from its unique vibe and presentation, which makes for an excitingly varied package. Many have compared the Ty games to Banjo-Kazooie and Super Mario 64 in terms of the visual style, platforming, music and collectables (the Bilbies are straight up Jinjo’s, it’s true – but hey, who doesn’t love Jinjo’s!). Noting the changes made regarding combat & ‘rang selection between Ty 1 & 2, I would say that Ratchet & Clank was a big influence, given that R&C2 came out in 2003 and TY2 in 2004. Combat is simple but honestly never gets old, thanks in part to the cool variety of ‘Rangs at Tys disposal (smacking enemies with the Bunyip mechs is also extremely satisfying). I was reminded a bit of The Simpsons Hit & Run and Spyro at times, too. Fans of those clean, colourful, and inviting worlds will be right at home here.
Back to the ‘Rangs, as these are your only weapons besides a well-weighted bite attack with the O button. They have some nifty Special uses too. A weapon wheel via ∆ is all you need as there are no customisation options to get bogged down in. It might seem bare but this is another good example of Krome’s less-is-more approach, keeping players focused on either the current mission or exploring with purpose. Each ‘Rang has different damage stats and most are dependent on enemy type, but you’ll also need to use a specific ‘Rang to complete a lot of puzzles and find all the collectables (ie. using your Flamerang to melt ice, or the Frostyrang to cool down molten lava platforms so you can jump on them). Some ‘Rangs have multiple special uses which you can generally figure out by thinking logically, though there are a few signposts around the world with helpful tips as well. Level and map design is super tight however and you will rarely find yourself backtracking to find an objective, or thinking you might have missed an area. It’s all about the flow. If something looks odd or out of place, chances are you can interact with it, and it may be a clue that collectables are nearby!
Does anything need improvement? Honestly, not really. The aforementioned harder difficulty option would be nice and I don’t think it would necessarily change what the game is trying to do – several suggestions have been made as to what form this would take, but stronger/more numerous enemies and shorter timers for timed missions would probably be enough (I was finishing many of these with several minutes left on the clock; case in point, the Sunscreen delivery mission which has a 5 min timer but can easily be completed in about 30 seconds). There are also some missed opportunities for cool trophies (I made one particular boss destroy all the buildings in that arena, thinking for sure you’d get a Trophy for doing so) but the world is so nice you’re still going to have fun getting to 100%. Graphically the game performs very well under its own engine, I noticed a handful of slight texture glitches and a skybox compression anomaly in one sub-mission, that was it. And I probably wouldn’t even have noticed some of these if I wasn’t actively looking for them.
That brings us to playtime. First and foremost this is a very cheap title for the amount of hours that the team has put into the remaster, however most gamers should still expect to clock it in somewhere between 8-12 hours. It took me 11hrs to finish the game at 91% – but this is a personal favourite and I was really taking my time for the first half (only rushed the second half because I wanted to get started on this review). Would recommend taking your time to appreciate everything in the game. It’s a beautiful and uniquely Aussie experience, and a fine contribution to Australian art in general.
TY2HD for PS4 gets 9.5/10. Available now for PS4, Xbox, PC (Steam), & Nintendo Switch.