Tang Tang is an uninspiring puzzle game with an equally lifeless plot. Set in the year 3025, four cyborg heroes must protect The Associated Nexus of Galaxies (TANG) from the onslaught of alien invaders. These heroes, called Tangibles, plan to use their block-conjuring abilities to reclaim a cache of stolen TANG energy crystals and to defeat the enemy's five battle-hardened generals.
For a puzzle game, Tang Tang is viciously simple. Using your ability to conjure or destroy blocks, you merely have to gather the required number of energy crystals within each stage to advance to the next. There are usually aliens floating around, trying to stop you, but the blocks you create for stepping can just as easily trap, divert, or stun these nefarious baddies as well. As a last resort, the limited number of shots within your power pistol provides yet another solution for eliminating aliens. In all, there are five different planets to rescue, each containing five unique puzzle stages as well as a final "boss" area.
Take 2's advertisement of "120 levels of increasing difficulty" is somewhat misleading, as the game really has only 30 distinct stages. The distribution of aliens within each stage, as well as the planet you start from, varies depending on which character you choose, but never to the extent that you feel like there are a full 120 different levels.
Whether you count 30 or 120 levels, Tang Tang is so sickeningly easy that dying is a rare, almost preposterous, occurrence. The toughest of your challenges arises when facing off against the game's five monstrous bosses, each representing a different planetary element: fire, plant, ice, water, and wind. Sadly, while dissimilar in appearance, they all possess the same basic patterns of movement and firing, which pretty much eliminates the concept of long-term difficulty, as each boss area also has its own "safe" spot that renders you immune to attack.
In light of its uninspired gameplay and lack of challenge, Tang Tang's questionable control scheme doesn't help matters any. The B button lets you build or destroy blocks, while the A button lets you jump. However, to fire your power pistol, you need to press down on the control pad and the A button at the same time, which creates a whopper of a human factors dilemma. When trying to alternate between shooting and jumping, it's human nature to instinctively switch buttons. By mapping both actions onto a single button and failing to take advantage of the GBA's extra shoulder triggers, Tang Tang has an added level of difficulty that just isn't necessary.
Since puzzle games aren't known for their visual or auditory prowess, it should come as no surprise that Tang Tang looks and sounds just about as well as it plays. Static photo backgrounds and Crayola-inspired characters fare the subject matter adequately but are somewhat below par compared with the rest of the GBA lineup. The game's music is somewhat reminiscent of Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog in that the theme for each planet is simultaneously high on melody and low on base. Sound effects, however, are merely average--futuristic and metallic but also a little scratchy.
On the whole, it may seem as if Take 2 has published the worst puzzle game since NewKidCo's Hello Kitty Cube Frenzy. Although it is indeed short, easy, and unimpressive, Tang Tang may actually find a welcome audience with younger game players, as well as those who just love block-creation puzzle games.