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Tadpole Treble Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Tadpole Treble is a game that surprised me every step of the way. I was thoroughly won over by the winning soundtrack and charming sense of style, and found that I grew attached to this adorable little tadpole. Her journey is harrowing at times, but also full of humor and clever ideas. Tadpole Treble may look simple, but it's actually an action-packed joyride with an emotional punch. This is a strong contender for rhythm game of the year. Rating: 85%
Tadpole Treble
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Like a lot of kids in the 1990s, I figured Mario Paint would turn me into the next Picasso. Little did I realize at the time that I needed more than a 16-bit bit game system to fulfill my dreams of taking the art world by storm; I needed actual talent. Sadly, I've never been much of an artist, so I watched the always-cheery plumber dash my hopes and dreams once and for all. But instead of shelving the game and moving on to yet another 2D mascot platformer, I got hooked on making music with the versatile cartridge.

For years I have admired what people have been able to do with Mario Paint's song generator, seemingly turning simple 16-bit sound effects into beautiful covers of all your favorite music. But as cool as it was, I have longed for a company to do something more with the concept. Flesh out the idea and bring it into the 21st century. Tadpole Treble does exactly that, but not in the way I was expecting.


This is an aggressively charming rhythm game that takes a small tadpole on a musical adventure the likes I've never seen before. After getting gobbled up by a hungry stork, our little hero finds herself stranded in uncharted waters. The goal is to help the tadpole make its way back home, a perilous task that will take us on a journey through more than a dozen catchy songs. If you can manage that, you'll discover one of the most delightful music games in years.

Tadpole Treble attempts to split the difference between a 2D shoot-em-up and a timing-based rhythm game. Our little hero swims through an obstacle-filled stream where the goal is to dodge the spikes and pick up as many bubbles as possible. Of course, there's more to it than that. You'll also need to press the "smack" button every time you swim past a reed or flower. Some of these objects will send you flying into the air, avoiding all the dangers that persist underwater.

Tadpole Treble (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The tadpole swims along a familiar musical staff, giving us a chance to stay on the lines and make half-steps up and down. You don't really need to know much about written music to enjoy Tadpot Treble, because you'll spend most of the time dodging spikes and keeping the score multiplier going. With no arms or legs, our hero is limited to simply moving around smacking objects at the right beat. But don't paint the experience as shallow, because this game makes the most out of an admittedly simple concept.

It helps that every song is radically different, not only changing the background graphics, but also the genre of music. A lot of the game sounds like you're playing along to the scores from your favorite classic films, filled with dynamic moments and memorable hooks. In another stage you'll be fighting the 8-bit current while playing along to a chiptunes song. It's an eclectic soundtrack that includes everything from lounge music to old-timey country to prog rock. There came a point where I stopped trying to predict what would come next and just let the experience wash over me.

Tadpole Treble (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

For such a simple concept, I was surprised by how much the developers were able to do. It seems like every level has something in it that sets it apart, and the game is coming up with clever ideas right up to the very end. And because every stage looks and feels so different, I actually looked forward to going back and revisiting them to mine for higher scores. Tadpole Treble does an excellent job skirting the sameness problem that plagues so many rhythm games.

On top of swimming through the story mode, players will also have a chance to construct their own stages. This brought me back to the days of making music in Mario Paint, only this time around I have to factor in enemies and secret areas. As it turns out, making a challenging obstacle course is a whole lot easier than writing compelling music. But no matter how good or bad your song is, you'll be able to share your work with the entire world. I'm not very good at constructing these levels, but I'm excited to see what others are able to come up with.

Tadpole Treble is a game that surprised me every step of the way. I was thoroughly won over by the winning soundtrack and charming sense of style, and found that I grew attached to this adorable little tadpole. Her journey is harrowing at times, but also full of humor and clever ideas. Tadpole Treble may look simple, but it's actually an action-packed joyride with an emotional punch. This is a strong contender for rhythm game of the year.
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