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Tux and Fanny Review

Tux and Fanny Review

Spare a thought for any video game that has come out between the start of February 2022, and the end of March 2022. If it wasn’t going to be Sifu orHorizon Forbidden West slurping up potential players for your hot new indie title, then ELDEN RING decided to drop Third Impact on anybody with a spare console and free time. It’s why I feel special sympathy for a game like Tux and Fanny.

This is the latest release from Ghost Time Games, a solo alias of developer and music artist Gabriel Koenig, and is a videogame tie-in adaptation for the YouTube series Tux and Fanny, created by Albert Birney. Birney also helped with the development of this title, and after a modest launch on itch.io and Nintendo Switch, the game made its way to Xbox One on 25th February 2022, the same day as ELDEN RING’s release. Spare a thought for our boys in blue.

You play as the titular Tux and Fanny, who lounge around their house regaling in activities together and discovering the world around them. They really want to play with their soccer ball, but it’s been deflated and needs a pump that is hidden around the area. What follows is a multi-faceted adventure involving several mini-games, quirky characters, and side activities.

Tux and Fanny Screenshot 1

Before all that, however, I feel like I must preface with a little information about Gabriel Koenig as a creator, as their auteur vision is truly unbridled, for better or worse. While Jettomero: Hero of The Universe is a truly universal (heh) fairytale involving big-ass kaiju battles, Test Tube Titans saw similar gameplay, but put through a largely awkward political scope. Not that Koenig isn’t allowed to put these talking points into the cutscenes of the game, but the unskippable nature of this caused friction with players, myself included, despite my agreement with what was being said.

Dull talking points that outstay their welcome are also something that Tux and Fanny suffers from, in both the YouTube animations and the game. When left on their own, the characters of Tux and Fanny find difficulty in working the space they’re given, as they’re truly a duo meant for each other. The game counteracts this not by having co-op, but by giving you the option to have the character you’re not playing tag along, which can sometimes result in co-operative activities. It’s nice to see them get along, and engage in such saccharine and youthful endeavours.

What isn’t so nice, however, is the philosophical aspect of it. A constant theme in Tux and Fanny is death, and both the animation and game suffer from asking the same question way too many times, that being “What happens when we die?” Whether it’s nothingness, a heaven, or maybe we get a best-of montage made for us by a god with Sony Vegas 11, these questions are never really fulfilled in the game or animation. They’re merely bought up to provide an existential crisis in both mediums with no payoff.

Tux and Fanny Screenshot 2

When it happens in the animation, there’s nothing you can do but chalk it down to a bad bit. In the game though, you’ll find respite and delight in the toy box that Koenig and Birney have crafted. Full of mini-games, special interactions, secrets upon secrets, and all the lovely bits in-between, Koenig’s and Birney’s partnership has managed to find a balance between the surrealism of the show and the simplicity of Koenig’s other works.

Gameplay is in a standardised adventure format, primarily using a visual aesthetic reminiscent of computer games on platforms like the ZX Spectrum or Commodore 64, but with a modern sheen. You’ll find items all over Tux and Fanny’s home — as well as the areas around them — you try and apply them to everything possible in standard adventure game fashion, and you get more items in response. This is quite a lengthy title, mostly due to the micro-games that it’s filled to the brim with, and to counteract this, you can play both Tux and Fanny separately in order to place them in different areas and minimize time wasted.

As the game opens up, you’ll find several references to the adventures that took place in the animation, new areas filled with colourful characters, and several floppy disks containing fancy mini-games. It’s all of these different gameplay mechanics which are the meat of Tux & Fanny’s core, as you find yourself gripped with figuring out what to do on the spot. The highlight of this comes from a pseudo-final boss fight involving a giant transforming fly, taking the mask of a JRPG fight with several different attacks and other micro-games attached.

Tux and Fanny Screenshot 3

It’s all surprisingly immersive, if not for involving yourself in the adventures of these two surreal individuals, then for the nostalgia it constantly radiates. While it’s not something I actively partook in due to generational gaps, this home computer aesthetic gives me fond memories of playing nothing but the party games on Pokemon Stadium, day in, day out. Forget rose-tinted glasses; with Tux and Fanny, Koenig and Birney have given my entire room a pink hue.

Still, this isn’t the magnum opus that could define the careers of both. The “quantity, not quality” output of the mini-games leaves some feeling less involved than others, whether it’s due to the inherent simplicity of the gameplay or otherwise. The Dr. Mario tribute floppy disk, dubbed “Tim Tooth” in-game, has severely maligned controls that cannot host some of the chances both the game and the player creates.

Tux and Fanny Screenshot 4

The worst of it comes from “Blizzard Beads”, however. Tux and Fanny has an in-game achievement system in the form of buttons you attain on a corkboard, with every floppy disk mini-game having its own button to unlock. In order to get the button for “Blizzard Beads”, you need to not only use a cheat to unlock two-player mode, but you also need to complete the extra 50 levels the cheat unlocks. It is horrifically boring, and also feels like a weird tribute to Bill & Ted’s Excellent Game Boy Adventure, but I digress.

At the very least, Tux and Fanny’s cardinal sins wouldn’t make a confession booth, and with the frankly large size of the world you’ll explore, they’ll feel like microscopic blips you can ignore when it comes to the gameplay. While both the game and animation suffer from rather droll ideologies, the former has the benefit of being more creative in showcasing exactly how strong the friendship of Tux and Fanny is. We all need a Tux in our lives.

Maybe not a Fanny though. Too many innuendos.

7.50/10 7½

Tux and Fanny (Reviewed on Xbox One S)

This game is good, with a few negatives.

A toy box sprawled out onto the floor of game development, Tux and Fanny is a brilliant mini-game parlour, with a satisfying narrative to match when it isn’t too busy trying to be a stoner-inspired stream of consciousness.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review

Samiee "Gutterpunk" Tee

Staff Writer

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