Tiny Barbarian DX

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Tiny Barbarian DX Game Poster Image
Retro action heavy on nostalgia but light on substance.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Little in the way of plot here, much less positive, negative messages. Only a fight against whatever dangers, evil stands in hero's way.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Titular "Tiny Barbarian" doesn't really have much in way of character, personality. He basically exists just to hack, slash his way through any obstacles.

Ease of Play

Simple controls; easy to learn.

Violence

Nonstop violence, with hero constantly hacking, slashing his way through just about anything that moves. Despite overwhelming violence, pixelated presentation cuts out any gore, blood.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Tiny Barbarian DX is a downloadable arcade-style hack-'n'-slash game. The game has a simple pixelated style teamed with basic gameplay for a retro action feel. The action is nonstop, with the player having to constantly attack enemies with his sword. While there's plenty of violence, the game's style prevents any sort of blood or gore, lessening the overall impact of the violence.

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What's it about?

In TINY BARBARIAN DX, you find yourself captured, tied to a tree, and left in the hot sun to feed the buzzards by a band of crazed cultists. It would be enough to break any normal man. But you're not exactly a normal man. You are a Barbarian, and you decide when your time is up. Breaking free from captivity, you set out across the land on a quest for revenge. It'll be a long quest over various terrains, with many hazards and obstacles between you and your goal. That's OK, though. You've got your sword and your loincloth, so you’re good to go. Run, jump, climb, and swing, carving out a path of pixelated destruction in your wake as you prove that brutal things come in small packages.

Is it any good?

Action games such as this one have come far from pixelated graphics, two-button controls, cheesy plots, or more arcade action than you can shake a joystick at. Occasionally, though, a game comes along to remind us of the retro fun from the good ol' days of gaming. That's where Tiny Barbarian DX comes in. The classic-style hack-'n'-slash game feels like someone reached back into the '80s and pulled out an unreleased gem from the heyday of the Nintendo Entertainment System. The only thing missing is the old-school gamepad. There's not a lot to learn here; outside of moving, you spend the entirety of the game using only two buttons: attack and jump. It's a simple idea and a surprisingly addictive one -- at least for a while.

Unfortunately, the very thing that works in Tiny Barbarian DX's favor is also its biggest flaw. When you're working with such a basic formula, it's difficult not to fall into a trap of repetition. After a while, the nostalgic feel begins to wear off, and then you're left feeling like you're just going through the motions. This is made worse by the game's overall lack of story. You get the gist of a plot at the start, but by the time you're in the thick of things, you've already forgotten why you're running around killing anything that moves. There's an attempt at distracting players from the repetition later in the game by ramping up the difficulty, but that only translates into a few trickier jumps and more baddies attacking at once. Tiny Barbarian DX is a fun bit of a throwback to gaming's past, but in the long run, it simply lacks the substance to leave a lasting impression.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. How much does presentation affect the impact of the violence? Is more violence in a less detailed style any more or less influential than less violent content with graphic detail?

  • Talk about the evolution of games. How has the video game experience changed over the years? What's the draw of classic games or new games with a more retro feel?

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