Proverbial Jon Reviews...
If you have never heard of Tail Concerto before it can't be said the blame would lie entirely with you. It's another one of those obscure Japanese titles which was released with very little fanfare not only in English speaking territories but also in its native Japan as well. Today Tail Concerto is considered an underappreciated gem of gaming and quite rightly so because it's a whole load of fun.
Capture those pesky kittens!
Our protagonist is a young anthropomorphic dog called Waffle Ryebread. Waffle spends his days fighting crime as a police officer in a land of floating islands known as the Prairie Kingdom. Waffle is looking forward to a relaxing day off until he receives a report that the Pris sisters, feline members of the troublesome Black Cats Gang, are causing havock in the Prairie Kingdom once again. But unbeknown to Waffle, a mysterious criminal known as Fool is plotting a much more diabolical scheme.
Cats and Dogs
Tail Concerto has everything you would expect from a game featuring anthropomorphic animals. From the art style to the storyline and characters, it's all rather cutesy and brimming with simple charm. Needless to say, all the characters are likeable and their interactions with one another are quite amusing. The music is catchy and each theme is fitting for the area it is joined to and the voice acting is simply superb, at least as far as PS1 standards go.
The gameplay primarily consists of navigating a variety of small islands in Waffle's police robo. Each island has its own theme and usually a type of gameplay specific to it. For example one island will have you riding mine carts to navigate a maze-like mine while another island fixes the police robo up with a jet pack and sends you off to gleefully zip about a series of smaller islands. Once you have unlocked each island you can move freely between them using the world map.
Will Waffle ever get that vacation?
Plenty To Do
But the Pris sisters are not the only members of the Black Cats Gang; Waffle will also encounter many kittens in his travels too. They may not sound like much, but the kittens will be your main concern for most of the game. Most times they must all be captured using the police robo's bubble cannon before Waffle can continue. More often than not, capturing kittens is incredibly fun and rather satisfying too. Also scattered about the islands are pieces of photographs which can be collected, their completed counterparts can be viewed from an album in Waffle's home. While you're not chasing down troublesome kittens, collecting photograph pieces will inevitably consume your time in the Prairie Kingdom.
The Boss Of Me
Boss battles are where the game starts to drop in its otherwise commendable variety. Each boss is generally very similar to the last and never varies from the age old "avoid attacks" and "pummel until health bar is depleted" routine. Do not be deceived however, some battles are quite tricky to win unless you have well and truly mastered the cumbersome police robo and have wrestled the uncooperative camera into submission. There is always a sense of achievement to be felt when completing each island's objectives.
When I played Tail Concerto I felt a real sense of nostalgia, not for this game but for the era of gaming that was mine when I was a child. It was a wonderful, innocent feeling of times when games were colourful and fun and didn't need to be bogged down by gritty realism to be appealing. For being able to capture that sense of pure wonder even today, Tail Concerto has my praise.
Tail Concerto is a gentle game in both concept and approach. If you're looking for good, simple gaming fun or perhaps just enjoy anthropomorphic animals, then Tail Concerto couldn't be a better choice.
If you enjoyed this game, check out the spiritual sequel Solatorobo: Red the Hunter