Having a character named Tux already implies silliness is afoot, but when you couple him with a character named Fanny, you start to expect the ridiculous.
After the developer provided me with a review code for the game, I had little idea what to expect from it – but I was prepared for something weird.
Boy was I right.
Many thanks to Ghost Time Games for the review code.
The conceit of the game is rather straightforward. Tux and Fanny want to play a game of football together. The problem is that their ball is deflated and they need to find a way to inflate it. To do this, they need to work together in order to find a solution – oh, and there’s also a playable cat and flea involved in the story too. It’s honestly best not to ask too many questions, although strangely it does all fit together rather well. This may be due to it being based off of a 2019 animated film of the same name, but I’m not sure how closely it follows the story of the feature length presentation.
Despite the simplistic – yet charming – sprite work, the game actually owes more to surrealism than to old school gaming. Sure, this is primarily a point and click adventure reminiscent of the early days of the genre, but there is so much more to it than that. Whilst the majority of your time will see you wandering around collecting and interacting with a wide variety of objects, including a rotten apple and a jar of chimney smoke, the game uses this as a means to present a plethora of weird sequences and minigames.
All of these extra bits are what helps Tux and Fanny stand out from the rest of the crowd. Some of these are playable by finding and using floppy discs, but many are triggered by performing certain actions in the environment. One puzzle has you distracting a horse with the previously mentioned rotten apple, only for things to switch to the worm’s perspective as you leap through the horse’s intestines and out of its arse before you’re digested. Moments like these add to the charm of the game and are a joy to play, even though a fair amount are completely optional – particularly those that can be found on floppy discs.
Floppy disc games tend to be much harder, given their optional nature. There are easier ones that are used for game progression, but the majority only offer in-game medals (buttons for you corkboard) as a reward. A particularly tough one has you saving members of your flaming family, and the hardest difficulty mode took me the best part of half an hour to plough through. Even if you don’t want to see these bonus ones through to the end, just experiencing them is a joy as some are fantastically bizarre: clearly the result of a disturbed, yet fantastic, mind!
If there’s one criticism to be had from these floppy disc games, it’s that fast travel is locked behind one of them: Agile Auto. After beating it, you will be able activate fast travel after you learn the correct melody to befriend the seagulls – this can be found in a book that contains seagulls, but the song is so easily missable that I had to be told the solution by the creator. It’s not too much of an issue, as the world is small enough for backtracking to not be too much of a hassle, but having this option harder to miss would have been appreciated.
And the game isn’t just limited to these minigame extras either: there is so much content on offer that it really surprised me. There’s a whole bookshelf filled with mini stories – many of which offers hints and secrets that can help you along your adventure. There’s a wardrobe that can be filled with clothes and costumes, some of which are attainable but others you will need to craft. The game lacks a soundtrack, but there’s a load of records scattered around that you can use for backing music – including one consisting entirely of sound effects! Excluding this silly one, the others are genuinely good and offer a variety of tunes to accompany you on your bizarre adventure.
TUX IN A RUT
Despite all this extra stuff, as I say, the game is still predominantly a point and click adventure game. As such, a lot of you are probably wondering what kind of moon logic is on show here. Contrary to what you’d expect, the surreal nature of the game does not mean that the puzzles are as nonsensical as in the Sierra adventure games of old. In fact, these strange situations all have logical solutions that work in the universe our heroes inhabit. Not tired enough to go to sleep? A cup of camomile tea should sort that out. Need a snail to crawl away from a key it’s on top of? A strawberry should lure it away. Even when things get slightly more complicated, hints are scattered around that can help guide you through. If all else fails, a quick tap of the thumbstick can prod you along to where you need to go next. There’s rarely any excuse to get lost or stuck in this game, which is a breath of fresh air for the genre. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen at all, but they’re rare enough not to cause frustration.
As a budget game made by a small team, it’s quite impressive that they’ve carved an experience jam-packed full of content. In the five or so hours it took for me to beat the game, after taking down a rather epic and unexpected boss, I was only 60% of the way through the game. There were whole regions I hadn’t been to, and unsolved puzzles that I was sure would be part of the main questline. I can quite easily see the game providing you an hours worth of entertainment per euro paid, which is certainly a bargain – especially given the variety of the insanity on offer.
Tux and Fanny is the definition of a hidden gem. There are practically no reviews available for it, and it has no doubt gone under everyone’s radar (including my own, up until now). It’s a shame, as the game offers a meaty and surreal experience for a very cheap price. If you are after a challenging adventure game, this won’t scratch that itch; but if you want a bonkers tale full of surprises at every turn, this is the game for you. Grab it now.