Tiny Barbarian DX Review: Elbow Dropping the Indie Scene

The Nintendo Switch has an onslaught of Indie titles releasing week after week and it doesn’t seem to slow down. Good for us, bad for our balance accounts. Nicalis is one of the indie publishers doing amazing work for the Switch with two amazing titles in the market (Cave Story + and The Binding of Isaac Afterbirth) and they are relentlessly pursuing Switch owner’s hard earn cash. We’re here to evaluate if their winning streak continues on with their latest release, Tiny Barbarian DX.

The Good…

  • Tiny Barbarian DX for the Nintendo Switch harkens back to the old-school action-platformers from yesteryear. Ninja Gaiden’s platforming and Castlevania’s action get fused together to make an amazing modern take of those NES days. The action and platforming never stop and it will continually test your skills until you reach the endgame. 
  • The musical score will make you headbang your way through the entirety of levels as you slash and elbow drop fiendish enemies. Each track gets progressively cooler. I know I will catch myself listening to the OST in the future.
  • Beautiful pixel art from the moment you fight an onslaught of enemies atop a castle to the beautifully layered scenery within stages. Easily one of the best looking Nicalis games to date. 
  • Finding hidden cracks in walls bring back that familiar “ah-ha” moment because of the rewards actually being rewarding. 
  • Sound effects, including the UI, are pretty good despite looking like a Windows 95 window.
  • The idle animation is brilliant. The barbarian cockily shows his muscular physic until you commence the adventure. It’s also a button prompt giving you the freedom to pump up those biceps at any moment.
  • Boss fights bring tense fun battles to the table. Never cheap, but quite challenging. 
  • Did we mention you get a deadly elbow drop? You can drop down from the sky with just your mighty elbow to destroy enemies that halt your progression. The sword’s slashes are quick and satisfying, especially when combo-ing enemies left and right, but the elbow drop is the way to go. It’s a contender for favorite attack animation in any game. Such a majestic piece of art.

The Bad…

  • Jumping off and on from vines feels a bit finicky at times. I never feel comfortable trying to dodge enemy attacks from vines.
  • More enemy variety would have been appreciated. I feel each level has it’s three recurring enemies with an occasional pallet swap.
  • Hit detection feels a bit off from time to time. I know for a fact I probably shouldn’t have gotten hit when fighting certain enemies (mostly when they gang up on you). 
  • Mounts look awesome, but are mostly there to progress lengthy stages at a quicker pace.

…and the Ugly

  • Tiny Barbarian DX tries to mimic the games from almost three decades ago, a bit to spice up the game to bring it forward to modern times could have been what changes my final score to a 5. Potentially adding new combo attacks with experience or new weapons would have added to the overall replayability of the title.  It’s not a deal breaker, but we are in 2017 and I would have liked to experienced possibly using spears or bows to change up the combat a bit. 

Should you buy it?

There is no doubt in my mind that Tiny Barbarian DX is a fun action-platformer that would have been spoken about in high regard as Ninja Gaiden and Castlevania if originally made in the NES era. It’s a fun-challenging change of pace compared to the other offerings that have released on the Nintendo Switch as of late. A plethora of instant classic “nindies” have released the last few weeks and Tiny Barbarian DX is no exception to the instant classic category. Fans of retro style games and good games overall need to take the time to appreciate StarQuail and Nicalis’ exceptionally well made Tiny Barbarian DX for the Nintendo Switch. 

Braulio Ortiz

Founder and creator of Cynosure Gaming. Has roughly 24 years of gaming experience and began gaming on the NES. After playing countless hours of Ninja Gaiden and The Legend of Zelda a new hobby was born. Since then I've owned every major console and handheld and have beaten nearly every game that is relevant to the industry. Now I continue my passion through this website and see no end to this awesome world of entertainment. PSN & NID: happydude633

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