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Twinkle Tale (Genesis) artwork

Twinkle Tale (Genesis) review


"Sadistic level design will try its best to prevent your strength-conserving efforts. In its attempt to maim and weaken you, you’ll find yourself weaving through a sea of rolling boulders while blasting oozing slime creatures in a castle, negotiating a monster-infested ravine where one misstep will send you sailing over the edge at the expense of health, or trekking through a dark cave where enemies appear infinite and nearly invisible ghouls sap your magical power at the slightest touch."



Saria isn’t your typical witch. She doesn’t carry a wand, she doesn’t sport a familiar, and she certainly doesn’t fly. But what she does have is more than enough.

She has spunk. With great purpose, she lets nothing stand in her way. After all, only she can save her land from the sort of fairytale villainy plaguing it.

She has the will. A single-minded devotion to her cause keeps her constantly pressing forward. She knows that if she doesn’t, monsters will consume her very way of life and the lives of those she loves. To end this sudden onslaught, she must defeat its mastermind – a rebel black mage named Gadou, who decided to abduct all the master mages (including her own) in order to obtain the gems that serve as their source of magical power.

Fortunately, Saria also has the means. Before setting out on her epic journey, she received three powerful artifacts with which to channel her energy, each with its own specific purpose. These weapons and the elaborate yet simple environs in which they’re used set Twinkle Tale apart from many in its genre.

With the gold bracelet, you’ll annihilate swarms of incoming monsters with explosive yet somewhat inaccurate stars. With the jeweled necklace, you’ll thrash strong enemies and bosses, knocking them down with a series of powerful but narrow arrows. And you’ll destroy sneaky foes that would dare attack our woman from the back or sides with homing orbs launched from Saria’s argent broach.

Each weapon has its own specific purpose, but that won’t prevent favoritism. It’s only natural for us to choose one over the other. For the longest time, my favorite was the infallible, albeit less powerful, homing orbs. But whether you end up sticking with a prized artifact throughout the entirety of the game or actually consider the best places to use each one, you must keep some sense of strategy about you. Because unlike other shooters, taking a hit in Twinkle Tale not only diminishes your initially fragile health, but it also weakens whichever weapon you’re using at that time. And with a limited number of collectible power-ups scattered throughout each stage, you can’t afford to lose any advantages.

Sadistic level design will try its best to prevent your strength-conserving efforts. In its attempt to maim and weaken you, you’ll find yourself weaving through a sea of rolling boulders while blasting oozing slime creatures in a castle, negotiating a monster-infested ravine where one misstep will send you sailing over the edge at the expense of health, or trekking through a dark cave where enemies appear infinite and nearly invisible ghouls sap your magical power at the slightest touch.

Avoiding damage of any sort while facing such stacked odds is certainly doable, but it’s also extremely difficult. So when facing such challenges, it’s best to have your least favorite or least useful weapon on hand. You’ll need your maximum abilities when facing bosses.

At Saria’s aid in these epic battles are special screen-clearing magical attacks completely separate from her standard weapons. Armed with the maximum number allowed (three), the witch can usually make quick work of any boss within moments. But you’ll almost never have enough stored for this purpose. Mini-bosses or extremely strong enemies will drain the majority of these long before you reach the end of the stage.

Beasts like the pair of Cyclops that hurl boulders and flaming rocks at you often require at least one spell to sufficiently injure them so you don’t take nearly as much damage. Or those pesky gargoyles in the Diamond Palace that constantly circle you while advancing. You may have faced them twice before, but the tiny platform you fight them on here severely inhibits your ability to dodge and strike. Magic will save your life in that battle, but if you use everything you have, the trio of flame-spitting golems you confront shortly after will decimate you.

Soon you’ll find yourself so immersed in the intricacies of the game. Between the strategizing and the continuous frustrations when trying to overcome extremely tricky bosses, you’ll lose track of time. Battling the mighty blue dragon near the end of the game saw me almost miss dinner in my endless attempts to kill it. It had a simple attack pattern – most bosses do – but avoiding its attacks was extremely difficult. Every so often, waves of energy orbs spew forth from its maw in a powerful nearly unavoidable close-knit spread-shot. I became so absorbed trying to dodge its myriad of attacks in order to kill it that my roommate actually reminded me to eat because I’d quite literally forgotten.

Twinkle Tale is hard. It shows no mercy. Make one mistake and it could cost you greatly. It forces you to think before you act. You can’t always just charge into a room expecting to get out unscathed. Calculations are necessary. When the path forks, you must consider which route to take. Because taking the wrong one might well leave you battling a group of rock statues instead of weaving through a maze of moving disembodied spectral lights while slaying fireball-throwing wizards.

Oh. That’s not much of a better option, is it?

Rating: 9/10

wolfqueen001's avatar
Featured community review by wolfqueen001 (December 24, 2008)

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zigfried posted December 25, 2008:

Nice review! I think you successfully recognized and relayed Twinkle Tale's essence -- charm and challenge. I'm glad you enjoyed the game, and hopefully you enjoyed writing about it just as much. I know I enjoyed reading.

//Zig
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wolfqueen001 posted December 26, 2008:

Haha. Thanks. I'm glad you liked the review. I honestly wasn't happy with the way it turned out because I'd planned on writing it completely differently than how it ended up, and I was having a lot of trouble expressing things the way I wanted for some reason, which sort of frustrated me. But I'm glad it ended up conveying things the way I wanted after all.

It really is a challenging game; it surprised me quite a bit. I'm glad you'd suggested it otherwise I probably never would have known about it.

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