In Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 3: Night of the Quinkan, you reprise the role of Ty, a boomerang-toting thylacine from the Australian outback. You must work with some familiar faces, both friends and former nemeses, as well as a few new characters to defeat the nefarious Quinkan, a shadowy species with powers beyond measure. Though the Ty games have always been simplistic, now, in its third iteration, that simplicity is getting stale. Combine that with some really frustrating game mechanics, confusing goals, too many items to collect, and flat-out boring gameplay, and you have a game that has well worn out its welcome. Ty 3 might have some appeal to those interested in the characters and story, or younger gamers discouraged by the ever-dwindling amount of E-rated platformers; but otherwise, you can do better with virtually every other platformer on the market.
After being initially dispatched to dispose of the Quinkan in the sacred land of The Dreaming (which serves as a brief tutorial level), Ty has a little mishap in the return portal, and does not end up back in his home town of Buramudgee until six months later. During his absence, the Quinkan have taken over the region, and now things have gotten really bad. With the help of dingo Shazza, fellow tiger Ridge, and a number of other creatures from the Bush, Ty must deliver peace back to the area. In terms of gameplay, this boils down to a series of level-based objectives that range from using a biplane to escort a giant bug to safety, to destroying all of the enemies in an arena level. In between the missions, there are a bevy of different side quests that offer monetary and item rewards. The problem is that there's little purpose, other than wanton completionism, to actually participate in these side missions. You get plenty of money in the game to purchase the necessary upgrades for the central story, and all of the thousands of different ways you can customize the boomerangs do little to improve the combat. Of course, without these additional quests the game ends up being fairly short and simple, so you're left with a double-edged boomerang (so to speak).
Ty's weapon of choice is his 'rangs, which can be used to take down almost all enemies. Many of the regular enemies die in one hit, except for the Quinkan, who take several, and the bosses, who have fairly long health bars. For a little variety in combat, you can earn and purchase additional mechanisms for your boomerangs, such as chassis and bunyip stones. The bunyip stones have different elemental properties, like fire and water, but despite appearances they don't feel like they have much impact on the enemies. Fortunately, money, or opals, can be found everywhere--whether they're just sitting around the environment or pouring from enemies and wooden crates. You'll also need to keep an eye out for a bunch of other collectible objects hidden throughout the levels. Most of the objects you collect serve no additional purpose, except the challenge required to collect them.
To its credit, the gameplay is multifaceted, and no two consecutive levels are ever quite the same. This is due largely to the vehicles, which include several types of mech, a crawler, a plane, and a kart. In turn, each vehicle offers multiple modes of gameplay, so while you're in the kart, you might race or you might compete in a destruction derby, for example. Conceptually, this keeps the game going at a nice pace. Unfortunately, there are minor details that pop up in virtually every mode that prevent the game from being anywhere near as good as its concept. So despite all of the gameplay variety, none of it is very good.
One of the most obvious examples of this is the hit indication. While some objectives and enemies will react to impact, not all of them will. This means that discovering the next course of action is trial-and-error-based on whether or not five consecutive thwacks from Ty accomplishes anything. If it does, great--you have an idea of what to do. If not, then you find the next obvious-looking object to attack. This is indicative of a larger problem with the graphics, which is that they're bad. Light sources in the game make little sense, environmental hazards don't always line up with their collision, and many things that look like they're important aren't. There are a few neat details here and there, but for the most part the graphics look equivalent to the earliest stuff seen on this generation. They are particularly bad on the Xbox version, which doesn't even offer a widescreen mode like its PS2 and GameCube counterparts.
There are two multiplayer modes for up to two players, but it's about as simple as multiplayer can get. You can have kart races against the other human opponent and six CPU players on one of six levels, or dogfight one versus one on four aerial maps. There is no choice to change any of the options--not the number of laps, death-tally, number of CPU players, or even the method by which the screen is split (it's always horizontal). So, despite having multiplayer, it's about as bare bones as it can be.
The story is cute and might appeal to younger audiences, but it's a bit silly. It's certainly interesting that Ty is Australian, and the characters are all sensibly within that universe, but it's far too gimmicky to sustain the series for this long. Ty is overly stereotypical, which is charming initially but then begins to feel forced. While some of the voice actors' accents are fairly good, a few are noticeably subpar, which detracts from the overall presentation. Otherwise, the sound is pretty good; the music and sound effects may not be fantastic, but they work well for the game.
The Ty games have always seemed to be targeted squarely at a younger crowd, with simple gameplay and over-the-top cartoonish characters. However, even a younger crowd needs to have a more consistent and interesting gameplay experience than that which is present in Ty 3. There's no doubt that there's some charm to this game, but when it comes down to a good gameplay experience, Ty 3 is severely lacking.