On the scale of cute and cuddly anthropomorphic platformer characters, EA and developer Krome Studios' Ty the Tasmanian Tiger isn't exactly up there in terms of notoriety. Ty's original (and only) self-titled adventure, released back in 2002, was a good, though unremarkable platformer that had some endearing characters and generally inoffensive but unspectacular gameplay. It was also largely aimed at a younger gaming audience, which pretty much explains all of that right away. Ty's latest title comes in the form of Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 2: Bush Rescue, and for the most part, it follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, treading over mostly well-worn platforming territory and aiming its sights squarely on younger gamers. And as a game for kids, Ty 2 is perfectly serviceable. However, more discerning players probably won't get much out of it.
Ty 2 picks up essentially where the original Ty left off. Ty and his Burramudgee Bush Rescue posse are thrust into the middle of a furious battle against a pack of evil lizards. These lizards are on a mission to bust out Ty's archenemy, Boss Cass. Despite their best efforts, Ty and crew are unable to prevent the escape. In turn, Boss Cass then up and forms his own independent country and pulls a Lethal Weapon 2 by claiming diplomatic immunity, which prevents Ty from sending him back to jail. The actual story of the game isn't especially engaging, but along the way, you'll encounter a number of colorful and funny characters, many of which were featured in the last game, as well as a few new faces. It's a good thing these characters are there too, because if it weren't for the bountiful cast, the game's plot would be pretty mundane.
Throughout the course of the game's 44 missions, you'll spend much of your time fighting off Boss Cass' various goons through story-based missions, as well as embarking upon a number of rescue missions and side quests. Ty 2's gameplay structure is largely open-ended, as is the basic gameworld. In typical open-ended gameplay fashion, available missions are marked on a primary world map, which appears in the lower corner of the screen. Missions marked red are the primary missions based within the story, whereas orange and green missions represent side quests and other ventures. The actual missions are all pretty basic in design, mostly consisting of various jump puzzles and brief bouts of combat, with the ultimate goal of rescuing a trapped or lost character, getting somewhere or delivering something within a set amount of time, or beating up a fairly unchallenging boss.
When traveling between towns and mission locations, you'll find yourself riding shotgun with one of your pals in a truck that you control. The truck is pretty fast, and despite its loose handling, this method of travel manages to get you around the world pretty quickly, preventing any long, arduous journeys while just trying to get from point A to point B. The world itself is quite large, as are the various mission areas and towns that you will find yourself exploring. Periodically, you'll find yourself interacting with assorted characters that are milling about, though unless they're specifically tied to a mission they'll typically just drop you a cordial hello and move on about their business.
When in control of Ty, you'll have a few basic attacks and abilities at your disposal. Ty now dual-wields his token boomerangs, and he has a whole host of upgrades he can purchase for them at the local shop, like ice boomerangs, fire boomerangs, and so on and so forth. Apart from being able to toss a couple of 'rangs about, Ty also can bite, and bite hard. His bite attack does a fair amount of damage, and it also comes in handy for chomping down on certain level obstacles, which he can then use to propel himself into the air. Ty can also use his boomerangs like a pair of wings when jumping, giving him the ability to become airborne. Periodically, you'll also be able to drop Ty into one of a few different mech suits, which obviously give him quite a bit more power than he would otherwise have.
As you can see, Ty 2 manages to provide basically the bare standard for what is expected from a platformer in this day and age, at least from a basic, mechanical perspective. The game definitely has its fun moments; unfortunately, it doesn't manage to provide any real challenges to go along with it. None of the puzzles, bosses, or other requisite objectives the game puts in front of you contains any real difficulty to speak of, and frankly, the only thing that ever makes the game hard is its occasional inability to properly explain to you what you're supposed to be doing. Explanations of what you need to do or where you need to go are never very detailed, and in some cases, you're left with an extremely vague picture of what your actual objective is. The in-game map isn't much help, as it's not very detailed and it doesn't name any of the locations. If the game were just a little more helpful with this issue, then much of its frustration factor would be eliminated. Then again, if it were more helpful in this area, there'd be no challenge to the game at all.
If you manage to get through Ty 2's entire story mode, the game does include an extra bonus mode that is immediately accessible from the start menu. The mode is a kart racer, which gives you a healthy number of the game's characters to choose from and lets you race in several different environments. This mode is actually more fleshed out than you might expect, and it actually plays similarly to the Mario Kart games, with big boxes appearing on the tracks, which provide you with assorted forms of weaponry to use on your opponents and a powerslide button to zip around corners. Unfortunately, the mode isn't perfect and the driving mechanics aren't exactly up to par with other racers. The collision physics seemed a tad broken and jittery when bumping with other cars and the actual feel of the karts just seemed a bit off. However, although the mode would be pretty worthless as a stand-alone game, it's a decent enough multiplayer option for those who have finished Ty 2's main quest.
Visually, Ty 2 is a pretty good-looking game. As we mentioned previously, the levels in the game are quite large and colorfully designed. The whole game has a cartoonish Australian environment to it, and Ty 2 definitely fits in with this look quite well. You won't see any spectacular textures or level designs, but the ones that are in the game are standard fare for a typical platformer. The character designs are mostly holdovers from the last game. Ty looks marginally different, but mostly he's the same Tasmanian tiger that you may or may not have come to know and love. Overall, the characters are cute, cuddly, and generally what you would want from a kid-friendly adventure game, and some even have a few creative touches to them. Ty 2 performs well on all three consoles. The Xbox and GameCube versions are the best, as both run at a brisk frame rate and never really hitch up. The PS2 version's frame rate is lower, but it also rarely ever chops up.
At the time of its release, the original Ty featured some of the best voice acting out there, as far as platformers went. In Ty 2, the voice acting is still just as good, despite being up against much stiffer competition these days. Most of the characters speak with predictably Australian accents, but their dialogue also matches it, so you'll hear a lot of Aussie slang as they chat. The characters are varied enough to where each has his or her own distinct personality, and each comes off as quite endearing, thanks to both the dialogue and writing. The in-game sound design is mostly good enough, though there isn't much that stands out. The soundtrack consists of some goofy but catchy tracks, and the game's roster of sound effects sounds as though it could have been plucked out of any number of similar platformers. All told, the game sounds very good.
Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 2 is ultimately a good sequel to a game that wasn't really all that spectacular to begin with. This game doesn't provide much forward motion for the series, but it's an appreciable update with enough positive qualities to charm most any younger player. Older audiences probably won't be engaged by it, but Ty 2 should be easily appreciated by juvenile platformer fans.