Switch version tested
Review code provided
Slow burner. That’s the term to take away from this review more than anything else. Well, there’s a lot more to be said about TaniNani, but it’s mostly positive, and the slow burner reference is a good thing.
If you find that you currently have a bit of time on your hands and want something a little more calming and less frantic than the usual action title, then TaniNani is something you might want to consider. It’s a puzzle game, first of all, just to filter that through in case that isn’t your ‘thing’,. So, as long as you’re down, so is the game.
TaniNani is a romantic tale between two pink squidgy entities. No doubt there’s some write up somewhere detailing the planet they stem from, that they like walks in the park and intent on world dominance (the latter would be a surprise as they’re just soooo into each other). The goal of the game is simple: collect a crystal and make them kiss. Gross! Rather than break down the concept of kissing, all you do is have them cross paths so that they are forever entwined in gooey bliss.
That’s all very well TBG, but what part do I play in this love affair? You are the architect. Each level is separated as part of a grid system, and you have to manoeuvre the tiles around so that their paths cross. Do you remember those puzzles you had as a kid where you scramble several tiles, navigating them around a space? That’s TaniNani. Seems all very simple, but the puzzle isn’t without any complexity as your two little love birds can’t climb – in fact, they can’t do much else but walk in a straight light. Blocks will prevent them from going any further, so you have to shuffle the terrains up a bit so that you can collect the crystal and your partner.
As first this is a simple process to tease you into the game, but soon enough, the challenges make it a little harder – from the actual level design to the optional goals you can apply. These are mostly bonus jobs such as completing the level in a limited amount of moves, the classic ‘fast as you can’ or restricting the distance that they fall. Emphasis on optional as you don’t have to do these additional tasks, but if you want to unlock all the goodies and brag to your friends that you’re such a matchmaker, then, well… here’s your opportunity.
Any true gamer knows it’s all about the outfits. Ok, so that’s goading you a little as we all know that in-game selfies are the best (lying about that as well), but TaniNani does like to cute it up a little with unlockable outfits. They’re purely cosmetic, of course, but it’s psychological – surely you feel you can take on the world if you’re sporting a Viking helmet, right? There’s no currency as such but the more challenges you unlock, the greater choice on display. In theory, these challenges aren’t optional for us completionists: the top item (which hasn’t been unlocked yet) is awarded after completing 120 challenges!
The game is split into ten chapters in all, but you need to unlock crystals before progressing. You could effectively steamroll your way through a chapter doing the bare essentials – getting them to hook up – but you won’t be able to progress to the next chapter. Collecting crystals isn’t mandatory to complete a stage, but if you want to proceed, you’ll need them – unlock the level-specific challenges. You can, however, jump forward to any level within a chapter, so if you want to start with the more difficult stages and work your way back, that’s an option.
There’s no mistaking it, TaniNani isn’t a showstopper on the presentation front. It bears a very similar resemblance to an NES title, but that’s not an issue as the core is the puzzles and they’re very good at that. You can take your time (unless there’s a timer challenge) and experiment with what works. Each time you move a panel or grid by pressing the B button, time stops, and you can freely manipulate the map. Swapping tiles isn’t restricted to those immediately next to one another as you can exchange an end tile for another. Sometimes though, you’ll need to move the tiles, allow Tani and Nani to move forward a bit, then swap the grid about once more. As cute as they are, they do put you in an awkward position. Perhaps you should just let them walk off the edge to their death? You can do that, but the buggers come back to life, and you do it again without losing lives, credits or face, for that matter.
TaniNani is a cute little puzzler that is great for the Switch, as when the glorious day comes where you can commute once more, this will be perfect during the trip. It could be an individual thing, but you have to be in the mood for it, like sitting down to do a jigsaw.