Popular wisdom holds that the biggest audience for casual games is women aged 40 and up, but the creators of Tropix 2 were wise to not overlook another obvious fan base: Younger players, sure to be drawn to the vibrant graphics and simple play mechanics. Specifically targeting this audience, this strikingly personable and catchy adventure, which fuses enjoyable mini-games around fully customizable, island-themed level hubs, is sure to strike a chord with the kid in all of us.
Stunning and lengthy cut-scenes are included for those who’d like to follow the overarching tale, as a monkey and his animal pals attempt to keep a treasure map out of the hands of dastardly pirates.
Like all characters, objects and backgrounds in the game, they’re surprisingly well-animated, to the extent that it actually makes you want to keep playing to see what happens next. Which just so happens to be particularly convenient, considering the whopper of a world – divided into individual isles and multiple activities, accessible from a gorgeous map screen – that the tale is set in.
Thankfully, you’re free to tackle the saga at your leisure, optionally choosing which challenge to pursue next, with each awarding the precious sand dollars that count towards overall advancement.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. From a high-level standpoint, you’re basically provided a static location – Shipwreck Shoal, Mermaid’s Palace, Danger Island, etc. – from which to begin embarking on adventures. All have a core objective, be it building a raft to explore exotic locales; finding a way to fend off troublemaking swashbucklers; or searching off-shore for unique artifacts.
To achieve these goals, however, you must first fill a quest meter, which can be built up by acquiring objects in three categories: Food, fun and comfort. Naturally, these collectible goodies – including tiki torches, flowers, sand castles and fruity drinks as well as kites and soccer balls (which characters can actually interact with between missions) – all require spare cash to purchase.
How to earn those precious bucks? By choosing from a variety of different games to play including “Water Words” or “Cascade,” with featured selections running the entire gamut of action- and puzzle-themed offerings. Therefore if you don’t like bowling for bottles, you can instead opt to stack varyingly-shaped stones on turtles’ backs, enjoy match-three mindbenders, blow pirates out of the water with rapid cannon fire or try full-fledged time management simulations.
All can be tackled to the extent you personally desire, and at one’s own pace, with the ability to ping-pong between different, yet equally satisfying play styles perhaps the title’s most compelling highlight. The real beauty of these diversions, however? That all feel like standalone offerings unto themselves, so (despite their simplicity, and a low difficulty level best suited to tots) each offers a host of challenges, power-ups and attractive visuals on-par with anything you’d find in competitors sporting a more singular focus.
Fans of the original will find the package to be livelier in general, with newcomers guaranteed to be bowled over by the level of charm and interactivity. We especially dig how each quest involves building or finding new tools, which can then be used to dig for loot, scuba dive in search of treasures or to plug holes in opponents’ ships. It all screams extreme attention to detail, and tender loving care, by the game’s creators, who even make it possible to easily snap photos of mid-mission scenes and email them to friends. Combined with beautiful backgrounds, strong characters (love the ice cream-serving penguins and lemurs) and varied gameplay, it makes for a magical time.
While adults may not enjoy the experience quite as much as little nippers, and will surely breeze through in short order, kudos must still be given for the universally high quality of the whole package. Yes, certain activities prove more monotonous than others (we were much fonder of frantically sinking buccaneers than hitting the lanes or swapping pieces of fruit). And certainly, the setup’s a bit patronizing for anyone over the age of 10. Still, more games could learn a thing or two from this splendidly presented grab bag of activities, sure to drive the wee ones coco-nuts.
- Numerous activities to enjoy. Non-linear setup. Collectible goodies. Slick animation quality. Interactivity. Audiovisual presentation. Photo sharing feature.
- Low difficulty level. Some mini-games less entertaining than others. Long-term play gets tedious. A bit shallow for adults.