Back when the 3D mascot was in its prime in the early noughties, Aussie developer Krome Studios' Ty the Tasmanian Tiger was going up against big shots like Mario, Sonic, and Crash Bandicoot thanks to the backing of third-party powerhouse Electronic Arts and, eventually, Call of Duty publisher Activision. TY would fall out of favour and the studio behind him went through some ups and downs, but Krome bounced back the following decade and in more recent years it has remastered the first two 3D versions of TY via Kickstarter, both available on Switch.
Now the studio is back with the lesser known 2D outing, TY the Tasmanian Tiger 4: Bush Rescue Returns. TY 4 originally made its debut in 2013 on Windows and other devices and now it has been revived for Nintendo Switch with improved graphics and music, new voiceovers, and remastered extended cut scenes.
Although the shift from 3D to 2D is quite a significant change, technically, the series already got the 2D treatment on Game Boy Advance courtesy of fellow Australian developer Halfbrick (Fruit Ninja). If you haven’t experienced this fourth entry before, it carries over a lot of things fans know and love about the previous entries – from the characters to the boomerangs — and recreates it within the confines of a 2D platformer. This isn’t your typical side-scroller where you simply progress from the beginning to the end, though, as you also take on objectives across the 40 outback levels.
As part of the Bush Rescue team, TY’s tasks range from putting out fires to rescuing tourists who have gone missing in bushland. As for his main job, he’s once again dealing with the antagonist Boss Cass, who is up to no good, as you'd expect. It’s all in line with previous entries that made a name for themselves playing up the 'Aussie outback' experience, with a lot of familiar faces returning in this outing. Of course, TY’s weapon of choice is a pair of boomerangs and he’s got all sorts of them here – ranging from elemental ones to tech-powered creations. This weapon destroys everything in TY’s path and can be used to solve puzzles, activate switches, and even temporarily glide through the skies. You can even charge it up to deliver a devastating attack.
In terms of the platforming experience in TY 4, it’s a bit of a mix. You’re going to find yourself hopping about, mowing down enemies such as blue tongues and frill-neck lizards, avoiding projectiles, and swimming in the local waterholes. There’s a good sense of flow to the platforming once you get the hang of the controls, but the strong focus on collecting things (such as plugs to block up a dam) while navigating certain maze-like levels can result in a fair bit of backtracking. This may frustrate players who are seeking a more straightforward side-scrolling experience, and the length of some levels might test your patience, as well.
As for the difficulty, again, it's mixed. Some levels and areas you might find easy, while other segments can be filled to the eyeballs with adversaries and platform challenges. Of course, TY can make quick work of most dangers with the right boomerang but some parts may still be too much, or perhaps even confusing, for some players or younger audiences. This core gameplay is combined with bonus modes like time attack races and turkey chases which break up the gameplay, and you are often showered in opals, which unlock new boomerangs, costumes, and even characters. Boss fights are also back, but aren’t exactly groundbreaking.
If you are a returning player to TY 4, probably the immediately noticeable upgrade here are the voiceovers and remastered extended cut scenes. It definitely does the job of enhancing the title, even if there is a lot of dialogue and story to absorb. The visuals also look great in docked and handheld – bringing out the best of the beautiful backdrops, and the improved music once again adds to the outback setting. It scrubs up well. Overall though, this is mostly the same game if you’ve already played it.
What’s also nice about TY 4 on Switch is that it runs at 60 frames per second. There were admittedly some moments across both docked and handheld where the frame rate suffered some drops, but it wasn’t game-breaking and didn’t take long to recover.
TY The Tasmanian Tiger 4’s return is once again a bittersweet moment for longtime fans of the Aussie video game mascot. On one hand, it’s great to see this series that's now more than 20 years old showing some signs of life with another enhanced release, but the fourth outing feels like a step back compared to TY’s best 3D adventures. There's still plenty to like about the Switch version of Bush Rescue Returns, though, especially if you embrace the level design and collecting. Here’s hoping this Aussie legend can appear in 3D for a future outing.