I’ve seen some people talk about how the Switch is becoming a home for indie shovelware, but I don’t really think that’s the case. There’s been a decent amount of curation to ensure that even the smaller titles that end up on the platform are usually worthwhile; they can’t all be winners, but I’ve seen a higher percentage of titles that are worth a look than I have on other consoles. Case in point: Tiny Barbarian DX, a port of a PC platformer that’s all about a little guy with a big sword kicking butt.
The core of Tiny Barbarian DX’s gameplay can be boiled down to one move: the elbow drop. Hold down and press attack in midair and your minuscule warrior will lay the smack down on his foes. It’s a simple attack that doesn’t necessarily excel among the rest of your arsenal (run around, slash, jump, jump and slash) but the animation is so endearing and the act of connecting so satisfying that the game is better for its inclusion. It’s simplicity executed well. That’s Tiny Barbarian DX. More games could use elbow drops.
This isn’t a complex experience, don’t get me wrong; it’s mostly a left-to-right scrolling platformer where you whack anything that gets in your way. The setting and conceit of why you’re doing this may change, especially given your tendency to ride mounts, but the gameplay remains largely static throughout. None of this is particularly easy outside of the very early stages, and the revolt among the gaming literati against Games What Are Too Hard would certainly have touched on this one if it had reached the level of exposure that Cuphead did, but practice and perseverance will see you through.
It’s a worthwhile trip to make, especially given the interesting graphics. Yes, that’s right, interesting graphics in an indie platformer with pixel art. I’m a little surprised I typed that as well, but it’s true. You’ve got giant war machines, dungeons, an area where you fly on top of a giant bee and more. Your barbarian’s even got his own sense of style, what with the elbow drop and other animations. Sound-wise this one’s standard, though the sounds of your sword (or elbow) smacking something are pretty satisfying as one would expect.
Combine this with an addictive endless mode where you protect a ziggurat from an endless horde of enemies (try elbow-dropping them) and you’ve got a pretty decent Switch experience in Tiny Barbarian DX. This is the kind of system that’s well-suited for these smaller titles even as heavy hitters like Breath of the Wild and Mario Odyssey make the world shake. Tiny Barbarian DX scratches the right itches, which is why it probably deserves a place on your Switches.