"Years To Come Back To, Hours To Complete."
Challenge completed? Yes
The Land of the Rising Sun houses an innumerable amount of quirky, offbeat and just plain strange titles, or at least to the western audience it may seem this way. Some have trickled through to the US (Muscle March as a WiiWare title) while most have stayed away from the US (such as most of the Cho Aniki franchise). Most of what does manage to slip through are mercifully removed of such over-the-top neurosensory overloads, such as Tail Concerto. While not decidedly overflowing with a Japanese influence, its anime cutscenes, quirky (though tame) characters and game world do little to reach towards a western audience overall. Sadly enough, its quirks, somewhat unique world and inhabitants, as well as overall story, doesn’t last very long.
Tail Concerto will never be know for being a technical marvel, but the game world and characters within them look more than serviceable for its time. Animation remains smooth, each area borderlines its self into looking like something from an animated series, and the colorful nature helps enforce the light-hearted tones displayed. The only painfully obvious points of concern come from entering the mostly tiny homes for one reason or another. The game slows down quite a bit, though it’s tolerable enough, and luckily extremely rare when it inhibits any kind of gameplay necessities, such as capturing evil kittens.
Combat in general doesn’t have much to it at all; players can fire bubbles towards their adversaries, which will encase them within to slow them down long enough to flail your arms and bring them into custody. There are a few quirks that make the mechanics a bit of a hassle. Camera control takes some getting used to, as it follows behind players. Turning around will send the camera into an awkward pitch to said direction, which can be troublesome when near a ledge or when surrounded. Additionally, stationary turning doesn’t exist, as the players mechanical suit will slowly turn, but then do a tight running circle after a split second. There is an option to slow down the camera pitch, but unfortunately, it really slows it down, making it an unreliable alternative. Camera controls , mixed with platforming elements, will lead to some headaches here and there, but it’s more than manageable, without the need to be rushed from a pack of cats coming after the player.
One surprising bonus to Tail Concerto is its audio package. Each area has a suitable theme playing and, while not entirely catchy, are quality pieces that continue to flaunt the overall tone. To be frank, it’s one of the stronger soundtracks on the system, regardless of the fact that it never really lingers in the players minds after the game is powered off. Moreover, the English voice acting comes off a lot stronger than most other import titles that utilize an English track to replace the original Japanese one. It’s not Metal Gear Solid caliber, but it’s no where near as irreprehensible as Mega Man 8‘s anime cutscenes. Rounding out the audio are effects that are tailored for each instance; whimsical in approach and crystal clear. Out of everything in Tail Concerto, the audio is far and away the most enjoyable aspect.
While the audio and video to Tail Concerto do work overall, there are still a few shortcomings that impedes its enjoyment overall. The camera controls were touched upon earlier, which does affect the gameplay more often than it should. The major culprit however, is the length of the game its self. For a title that features voice acting, animated cutscenes and a narrative that’s kinda fun to follow, I was expecting to be hooked into it for maybe fifteen hours or so. I didn’t expect things to cease after a little over five hours though. To its credit, it does feel like the perfect run time, but it also feels as if plenty more could have been done, especially on an exploration side. With a number of floating islands to fly between and explore, Tail Concerto could have padded its length in a more meaningful manner, but alas, just about every area explored houses more brevity than spaciousness.
Considering the amount of time it took me to finally get back to Tail Concerto, and then the amount of time it took for me to actually complete it (and completely whiz by the area that frustrated me years ago), I have to say that I’m a bit disappointed. Granted I did enjoy the game for the most part, the glaring faults really do sour the experience in more ways than one. If the camera speed were tweaked and a bit more relevant content was added to extend the playtime, there’s no doubt that Tail Concerto could have be a more impressive game, both back during its release and at this present time. It’s worth giving a try, so long as you don’t spend the inordinate amount that it’s fetching on ebay.