1000 Tiny Claws Review—Yar, Thar Be Lots of Insects

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I have always thought that Mediatonic is somewhat wasted creating games. While they have created some excellent titles with fun gameplay (most notably Who’s that Flying?!) their creations’ main appeal is the presentation and humor, as well as the quirky characters, which contain more charm and laughs than any given season of The Simpsons in the last 10 years. In this regard, their latest game, 1000 Tiny Claws, is their best title yet. And yet, you can also see them improving as game designers as well.

The protagonists of the game are the crew of a ship of sky pirates. They have inadvertently unleashed a horde of bug-like monsters named “The Swarm” upon the world. They must rectify this by becoming exterminators, clearing sky islands of these insects by dropping the first mate of the ship, a redheaded pirate lass by the name of Rana, onto the ground and having her knock off all the bugs with her sword.

By standing there, you'll hit the building when you get knocked back.

By standing there, you'll hit the building when you get knocked back.

It’s very much like some of the early shoot ‘em ups we’ve seen, particularly Age of Zombies. Only in this case, you are moving Rana around the level whacking things instead of shooting them. The big difference is how you and the bugs “die.” Instead of having a health meter or hit points or something along those lines, you or the bugs simply get knocked off the sky island. This seems simple at first, but the more you play the more you realize just how ingenious it is.

Specifically, it adds a lot of strategy as to how you play. Certain parts of the map you can’t really be knocked off of. Once you figure out where these spots on the level are, it becomes much easier to do. When I first started playing, I really didn’t pay any attention to this and kept getting stuck. But then a light bulb appeared above my head, and I got it.

Each world (of which there are 5) has 5 stages, the last generally being a boss fight. As in Mediatonic’s past games, the boss fights are something of a puzzle; you need to figure out how to defeat them. Usually this just involves a simple QTE (Quick Time Event), or in other words, pressing a button (which gets displayed on screen) rapidly. Simple because it’s just X. But, figuring out what triggers it is the puzzle.

Ride 'em, cowgirl, er pirate lady. Riding the boss is only half the battle.

Ride 'em, cowgirl, er pirate lady. Riding the boss is only half the battle.

With that said, it does get a bit repetitive. I could only stand doing two or three stages in a row before wanting to move on. They only last a few minutes, but sometimes it can take two or three tries. Regardless, some other type of gameplay would have been welcome once in a while, just as a change of pace.

It would also have been nice to see some improvement in Rana’s abilities. While there are puzzle elements, as I mentioned, they just aren’t strong enough to offset the lack of progression in gameplay. Some similar games, like Dracula – Undead Awakening or Twin Blades, offer periodic upgrades that let your guy move faster or kill better or give special powers. 1000 Tiny Claws doesn’t even offer any power-ups, except once or twice being able to restore your defense (basically how far you get thrown through the air when attacked).

Besides Story Mode, there are Challenge and Survival. Survival Mode gets unlocked after beating the first level, while Challenge needs to have Story Mode beaten. Survival is just like it sounds, where you simply try to survive as long as you can, racking up the highest score possible. Challenge essentially has you replay the levels in Story Mode, but this time for scoring to get ranked (silver, bronze, gold), rather than to progress in the story.

The brains of the outfit. You can tell by the glasses.

The brains of the outfit. You can tell by the glasses.

There’s quite a bit to unlock besides those two modes and the cutscenes between each level. Lots and lots of medals or trophies (but not in the PSN sense), which you can see in the Treasure Room. A lot of times, this just gets tacked on, but here the backdrop really is a trophy room of a ship. There’s also the Ship’s Log which contains humorous entries, although one does seem to be somewhat un-nautical in calling a ship a “boat.”

The graphics are excellent, both the cutscenes (which have improved in quality over Who’s That Flying?!) as well as the detail in-game, in terms of the artwork itself and the animations. Like when you get knocked against a wall, you’ll see some dust get knocked from it.

The sound is also very good, and I really got a kick out of the song in the credits menu. You are treated to a song sung by the Captain which tells the plot of the game. If this were 35-40 years ago when sea shanties like “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” and “Sloop John B” were still charting, it could be a hit. It’s really that good and probably the best reward for viewing the credits I’ve ever experienced in a game.

The cutscenes are also voiced, but with gibberish. Mostly gibberish; the names of characters are pronounced, and it’s hilarious when they go from being incoherent to saying the character’s name with a perfect English accent.

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At first, I thought 1000 Tiny Claws was like Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess, a game that I found charming but didn’t really enjoy the gameplay of because it was somewhat shallow. But, the more I played 1000 Tiny Claws, the more I realized how clever it was, and how well designed. Once I “got” the game, I really did enjoy it for itself, and not just for the funny cutscenes.

Still, the game is a bit repetitive. There’s a lot of enemy variety, as well as a slight puzzle element in figuring out the best strategy on the map, but you basically do just hit the X button over and over and over. While that’s also true in shooters, you feel it more in a beat ‘em up-style game where usually there are other buttons to press.

8.75/10

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Comments

17 Responses to “1000 Tiny Claws Review—Yar, Thar Be Lots of Insects”
  1. Ofaliss says:

    The Store finally updated and I’m downloading this now. Can’t wait to play it. Oh yeah, it’s 11:25PM eastern time right now… WTF Sony?

  2. confuletlyf says:

    no upgrades or powerups… harsh. Still on the fence on this one for now…

  3. Balrog says:

    I guess I’ll get this later today.

  4. Hey Jeremy,

    Great to hear you liked the game! We’ve launched a trailer for the game today which is available here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjN9vkWKZIU

    Enjoy!
    Paul

  5. Ofaliss says:

    BTW, this may be a dumb question, but… Is it pronounced One Thousand Tiny Claws, or A Thousand Tiny Claws?

  6. MediatonicJeff says:

    Hey Ofaliss,

    In development we always ended up saying ‘A Thousand Tiny Claws’ but honestly? Whatever works for you :)

    Thanks for the review, guys!

    Jeff

  7. onmode-ky says:

    Whoa, a thousand? Here I was, wondering what all the fuss was about over a measly binary 8 tiny claws. ;P

  8. manslayer911 says:

    Picked this one up last night. First time I saw the cut scenes, I laughed my arse off and was like, “What the blarhar is this?” lol The game’s is pretty awesome, and the scenes are totally wacky. Nice job. I like very much.

  9. TKL says:

    I’m playing now.
    As the minis program, this game is simply gorgeous.
    Well, yes. This game has no upgrades.
    But I don’t think this game is repetitive.
    And also, I think “1000 Tiny Claws” is NOT similar to “Dracula:Undead Awakening” or “Twin Blades “.
    As I think, it feels like some kind of “Smash Bros”.
    This game looks like Action-Role-Playing, but this game does not have RPG elements.
    it’s a pure action game with some strategic elements.
    And I really like this game.

  10. onmode-ky says:

    TKL, I know you get your Minis from a US account and that there is no Minis program in Japan, but do you know how many games that are Minis in Europe/North America/Asia have gotten released in the Japanese PS Store?

  11. TKL says:

    onmode-ky, Japanese PS Store is really poor.
    Japanese PS Store has 3 category for PSP Games.
    1.Downloadable game(also available on UMD)
    2.Downloadable game(Download only)
    3.Game Archives (PS one Classic ).
    Minis are available as Download only games .
    There are 99 Download only games.
    And…There are only 20 Minis.(Tetris, Urbanix, Ramen Heaven, etc…)
    However, Japanese PS Store has more than 600 PS one Classics.
    Includes Final Fantasy 1, 2, 5 and 6.
    But most of PS one Games are worthless on today.

  12. manslayer911 says:

    I agree with the Smash Bros analysis. Such were my first impressions also.

  13. Balrog says:

    Love the credits. :)

  14. Balrog says:

    (Double Post) Also nice eyepatch Jeff. :D

  15. raing3 says:

    Thanks for the great mini Mediatonic, quite possibly the best of your three (Who’s That Flying was awesome, Monsters Probably Stole My Princess was quite short but in other aspects was still great).

    I spent the last couple of hours playing around with it and love the variety of different enemy bugs and their attacks. The only thing which I felt was missing as mentioned above was the lack of player customization. It would have been great to be able to change the characters appearance, weapons, etc.

    It is good to see this mini also has a software manual, the first thing I check before first starting a game and I wish more minis developers would release them with their games. :D

  16. sniper712 says:

    this one felt longer, very good thing. it does feel a bit weird for me cause the dialogue sounded like it came straight out of WTF?! hope there will be more variety in gibberish voices in your future minis, like say mixed latin with french or, err japanese? there’s so many language you can make up and mix from others like with SoTC or Ico. looking forward to your next mini, whenever it may be (absolutely).

  17. YogurtSalad says:

    The review is correct. This is a very enjoyable game. However, it can be very hard sometimes and frustrating and more ability progression would’ve been better. I highly recommend this though.

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