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Tail Concerto

Tail Concerto by ATLUS USA INC Tail Concerto

Platform: PlayStation
ESRB Rating: Everyone

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GameSpot Review: After bouncing between Activision and a few other US publishers, Tail Concerto has finally been released in the US. Originally developed by toy mega-marketer Bandai, Tail Concerto represents a shockingly uncharacteristic attention to originality and production value. A delightful, light 3D platformer perfect for gamers of all ages, Tail Concerto doesn't quite live up to its potential, but it is enjoyable all the same.

Tail Concerto takes place in the fantasy world of Prairie, a floating archipelago inhabited by bipedal, anthropomorphized dogs and cats. Racial strife is rampant - the cats of the world, lacking government representation, feel oppressed by the dogs who rule over Prairie. Three feline sisters, Alicia, Flare, and Stare recruit a small army of adorable kittens and form the Black Cats Gang, a radical military organization designed to help the cats split away and form their own nation. Influenced by the nefarious Fool, they seek five legendary crystals, which they believe can create a nation for them. Unbeknownst to the three sisters, the crystals are actually the key to resurrecting the Iron Giant, an apocalyptic robot whose enormous pieces are embedded throughout Prairie's islands. Enter Waffle, a work-a-day cop with a floppy-armed robotic suit. Having foiled the Black Cat Gang's first attacks, Waffle gets the unfortunate assignment of locking up the three sisters, as well as apprehending any minions encountered along the way.

As cliche as much of Tail Concerto's story is, its gameplay is surprisingly fresh for a 3D platformer. Waffle's suit is equipped with a bubble gun, a teleport device, and the aforementioned floppy arms. The bubble gun will can damage any enemy vehicles, as well as temporarily immobilize any fleeing kittens. After grabbing the cats, Waffle tosses them into the teleporter on his back, instantaneously whisking them away to prison. On a more sadistic note, Waffle can also pick up pieces of furniture in people's houses and smash them against walls, serving no real purpose in the game. More useful, especially on the bosses, is the ability to pick up and lob back the bombs that the enemies generally attack with. Waffle's suit can also perform a majority of the other 3D platformer basics, such as climb and move hand-over-hand while hanging. In one stage, Waffle can equip his suit with a jetpack, fly about a huge debris field, and hop from island to island, occasionally pausing to let his jets cool. Even though Tail Concerto is primarily an action game, a number of little quests, spoken dialogue, and anime cutscenes are liberally scattered throughout the game to move the story forward and keep the game from becoming mindless.

Prairie is a beautifully envisioned 3D world, complete with forests, floating reefs of island debris, and huge mechanical fortresses. Virtually every surface is textured, and each environment is alive with animation and detail. Tail Concerto's 3D engine is speedy enough, but it has a high rate of polygon dropout and sorting errors. The game's camera intelligently pans most of the time, but it has trouble in some tight places. During action scenes, you can adjust the camera's position relative to Waffle, allowing for some minor control. Limited as it may be, the standard viewpoint is sufficient almost all the time, with the extra camera angles just helping out in a few situations. The game's excellent anime sequences, fluidly animated and lushly colored, also show an impressive level of effort. Tail Concerto's music is not as grand as the game's title might imply, however. The peaceful and subdued score is fairly hummable, but it does not stand out enough to warrant any special mention. On an unfortunate note, Bandai of Japan deemed the beautiful J-Pop intro song of the Japanese version to be "for Japan only," and replaced it in the US version with a rather weak orchestral piece. The game's sound effects are clear and effective, using voice often to tell the game's story and add personality to the boss encounters. Atlus' text and voice adaptation is very well done overall, truly giving the player the feeling of an interactive cartoon.

Tail Concerto's only real flaw is its length. Experienced players will breeze through the game in less than five hours, almost never having to push the limits of their gaming prowess. The game feels as though it could've been a lot more. For example, the jetpack stage is practically only a bonus stage, but it could've been used as a training session for a real jetpack action scene. Instead, the jetpack is nothing more than a gimmick for one minor quest. With gaping holes of opportunity like that, some players are bound to feel a tinge of dissatisfaction after completing the game.

Bandai has an excellent starting point for a series on its hands. Tail Concerto's furry world and gameplay basics could create an exceptional game when fleshed out beyond their current state. Even in its current state, however, Tail Concerto is definitely worth a look - games this pleasant and light don't come along that often, and they are a welcome change from the norm. --Peter Bartholow

From the Manufacturer: You assume the role of the heroic policeman Waffle and it's up to you to protect the floating Islands of Prairie. With the aid of your mini police blimp you'll travel through the land in search of the mischievous Black Cats Gang. In order to stop the Black Cats you'll have to jump into your trusty mech-suit to run, fly, shoot, climb or jump your way through 8 exciting lands filled with dangerous obstacles. On your way through the massive world of Prairie, experience a wild mine cart ride, rocket across floating islands, and even catch a ride on a gigantic airship! You'll also have to talk to the local townspeople and your friends in order to find clues about who's behind the treacherous plot to resurrect the Iron Giant God!

Customer Reviews:
I had just recieved this game today, July 8, 2002
Reviewer: primemaiden from Papillion, Nebraska United States
It's really fabulous. My kid brothers are video game savy. It's quite entertaining storywise. The gameplay is easy. maybe too easy. I play this game soley to be absorbed in the story. The anime feel to it is charming. enjoy.

Ooo~-_ Absolute ADVENTURE!!! _-~ooO, May 24, 2002
Reviewer: Goky from East Brunswick, NJ
[ Bascially Lemme break this down to you guys who wanna know if you should buy this game or not. I rate this game a 10/10 definetly because of this. Break this down to 5 sections...[Presentation] - the Opening Scene is ABSOLUTE ANIME and i loveeeeeeee Anime and i love the drawings and the Animation...really smooth and clean 10/10. [Graphics] - Graphics for this kind of game is Pretty Damn nice and i really dont pay attention to graphics to games that have a really nice Lasting Appeal 9/10. [Sound] - the music is 100% orchestra sleep music. It totally brings you in another world and sets you in the best mood to play this game 10/10. [Controls] - the buttons and the view buttons are really easy to use and the View buttons really lets you check out the environment thats so beautiful in this game. [Lasting Appeal] - wow..absolute WOW, play this game over and over and over again just to make yourself happy in life. I am really serious about this, the music, the Gameplay, the movies and the acting is soooo nice and clean and such a simple sad along with an exciting story to play the game with. ...

The brightest and the most delightfull game I ever played!, May 1, 2002
Reviewer: Jerzy (AIM screename: JrZ EaSt FrEaQ) from COLUMBUS OHIO
A PERFECT 10/10 on everything.....I remember playing this game on the JAMPACK back in 1999. The second I played it I got so addicted to it, and soon I really liked playing the game. I was really happy Japan released it here. What I love most about the game is the music, which sets the a really happy mood, and makes you wanna play the game! It's aimed towards younger audience, but I'm 18 and still enjoy it. In the game the MOVIE cutscenes are simply AMAZING!! Everything is hand drawn and it looks like you are watching a real cartoon show. The graphics in TAIL CONCERTO are very good! All the characters look detailed with nice smooth layout. And the environments look great. The music definately helps the game a lot. The coolest thing in the game is that you never have to read anything for the most part. All the characters talk. And the voice acting is great! I actually never skipped the talking because it's kinda cool they way WAFFLE and the BLACK CATS GANG fight with each other! ^___^ And how well all the characters interact with each other. And the voice acting is EXCELLENT. Simply a top notch performance in my opinion but I'm sure you will think the same after playing this game for 10 minutes. This game is one of my favorite games ever, and if you like playing cartoony happy games, with fun challenges and lots of bosses and HIGHLY addictive music, you will definately HAVE TO get this game. I highly recomend it. And I bought it right here on AMAZON.COM. And it was worth the [money] that I paid for it. GET THIS GAME! Not to mention it's very rare to find. Thanks...

Based On Japaneese Demo, December 13, 2001
Reviewer: Tomas Faix
When I heard of this game, I bought a Playstation Undergroung Jampack. This was the import demo. Although it was the wrong format (PAL) and it was almost entirely in Japaneese, I thought it was a great game. I think it's about some cat like people fighting these evil cat chicks that like blowing stuff up. Dispite the demo I played being in Japaneese and the PAL format, I thought this had high enetertainment value and I hope it doesn't become a victim of Sony's "mass discontinument" (yes, I know that's not a real word) where they're discontinuing almost all the games (even Crash and Spyro). I hope to buy the full version (in English and the NSTC/UC format) soon before it goes away.

Very cute but . . ., September 12, 2000
Reviewer: tigerpomme from Citrus Heights, CA United States
In light of the many depressing games that have been released for the PSX lately. (Depressing as in terrible games, not depressing story lines.) This game does come out somewhat. The kittens are out of control and it is your job, as a police officer, to keep them under control. The game is cute, however the game is a tad easy.

The game's cartoony look and feel certainly add to the appeal, a kind of disneyish look (remember the old TV show Tail Spin?) that will certainly appeal to the younger crowd. Unfortunately this very same look and feel will certainly turn away many many older players. The game certainly lacks the big-eyed-small-nose look that many Japanese anime characters have (Did you know that look actually originated here in the States?).

I always wished that game companies took care with the game play on games like this. For someone like myself (who can blow through Half-Life in less than an hour on the hard setting.) found this game a bit easy. However, I noticed that even though the game play was too easy it was also too inconsistent. Getting and using the jet pack would frustrate almost any younger player. (How many know to look for the shadow?) fighting some of the bosses would frustrate a few as well. Not exactly a perfect learning curve. And why do certain things hurt you, like the little auto's driving around? The main character walks around in a big robot' suit. A little odd.

Despite it's drawbacks, I figure this game will be a nice little sleeper title with a small but dedicated following (any one remember Kid Chameleon?) In about five or ten years, many kids today will be scrounging auctions sites for this title. Trying to grab a little bit of their child hood back.

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