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Tadpole Treble Encore Scores Big on the Switch

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Hidden gem can feel like an overused term in gaming. Everyone has some small or overlooked game they want to try and convince people to play, proclaiming people somehow missed it the first time. So please, excuse me for using it to describe Tadpole Treble Encore, a Switch port of a 2016 game that made waves on the Wii U and PC. While its heroine, Baton, doesn’t have legs, this adventure absolutely does.

The story is one that frankly, we’ve heard before. A child is separated from their parent inadvertently, and it is up to the player to assist the wayward kid in safely getting back home. The exposition is minimal, left to brief comic interludes and occasional levels with lyrics. Though it’s all personable enough, as Brawl in the Family’s Michael Taranto is one of the people behind it.

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What makes it special is the execution. Each level is a constantly moving side-scroller organized like a staff. Obstacles are arranged like notes and bars. You move Baton up and down across them to avoid obstacles, collect food or bubbles to restore health and points, and ideally reach the end of the level and song safely. Levels can have gimmicks. “Chiptune Lagoon,” for example, taps into the NES for inspiration. “Midnight Bayou” involves Baton being serenaded by a suitor. “Gusty Rapids” goes right to left, rather than left to right. So, you move up and down to survive (I found the D-pad more helpful than the analog stick) and press an action button to swat something with Baton’s tail.

Since this isn’t a remake or ribboot, the changes are minimal. Since this is my first time with the game, I couldn’t even tell what was new until I checked out. Which I think points to the quality. There’s a new stage in there, which is a pleasant inclusion, and more to earn. You can unlock things by repeating to get bubbles. There’s developer commentary to listen to, if you dig that. (Or a pause song, if you feel like pausing enough to try and hear the version with lyrics.) An enemy compondium appears. And yes, there is a jukebox option where you just enjoy the songs you’ve unlocked.

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Handheld mode is pointed to as a major selling point, which I absolutely agree helps a lot. I enjoyed it most played that way. Tadpole Treble Encore  looks good at any size. If you’re going back, it’s perfect to pick up and play a level or two. However, the downside is I found the smallest bubbles extraordinarily difficult to see when undocked, which is unfortunate since your score and grade is tied to collecting them. Conversely, I found it much easier to compose my own levels in the editor when it was right in my hands, so perhaps people will find jumping back and forth a potentially ideal situation.

Tadpole Treble Encore is a downright pleasant game that might seem a bit shallow at a glance. After all, there are only 14 levels and it is easy to beat in one sitting. But it is incredibly charming. At the very least, its soundtrack makes it quite a catch. I found myself replaying certain levels, like “Thunder Creek,” because it’s so satisfying when you nail the timing and movement.

Tadpole Treble Encore is available for the Nintendo Switch. Tadpole Treble is available on the Nintendo Wii U and PC.

Jenni Lada
Jenni is Editor-in-Chief at Siliconera and has been playing games since getting access to her parents' Intellivision as a toddler. She continues to play on every possible platform and loves all of the systems she owns. (These include a PS4, Switch, Xbox One, WonderSwan Color and even a Vectrex!) You may have also seen her work at GamerTell, Cheat Code Central, Michibiku and PlayStation LifeStyle.