Tail Concerto

· Around 4 minutes

Oooh, yes, we’ve finally come full circle back to CyberConnect again who you might remember as the ones responsible for over-the-top cinematic brawler ‘thing’, Asura’s Wrath. They’re best known for the .hack franchise, perhaps one of my favourite series, two JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure games for the PS3/4 and the 16 different Naruto: Ultimate Ninja games that have been released so far. Under all of that hides the Little Tail Bronx series which has gone fairly under the radar. Much like the Xeno and Final Fantasy series, each release is a spiritual successor to the last rather than there being direct sequels.

All three releases so far have all been set in a steampunk world full of anthropomorphic cats and dogs, but they never share the same characters or worlds. Despite the series’ low profitability, CyberConnect2 still continues to express interest in creating even more entries which is a fairly rare thing to hear from a company who works under a publisher. Might as well see what it’s all about!

The Kingdom of Prairie is spread across a number of floating islands and is home to the numerous cat and dog people who inhabit it. Things haven’t always gone smoothly between the two and due to numerous past conflicts, the dog people now make up the majority of the population. As a result, a group of cats have banded together to form the Black Cats gang led by the all girl trio, Flare, Stare and Alicia. Their goal is to steal the four crystals throughout Prairie in order to get revenge on the dog people with the help of Fool, the scheming mastermind and weapons dealer behind the whole operation. As one might expect, Fool has bigger plans in mind since he’s the only one who knows the real purpose of the four crystals, awakening the slumbering Iron Giant once again so he can destroy the Kingdom.

It’s a pretty simple story but I thought it was a pretty good fit as the game aims to be light-hearted and approachable to all ages. The pacing wasn’t too bad at all, making sure you’re always doing something new before you get bored whether it be switching things up by giving you a jet pack or having you ride in underground mine carts. Along the way, you’re treated to some fairly nice FMVs and there’s a decent amount of them. Once the Iron Giant is revealed in its full glory, they do a really nice job showing just how insanely powerful that thing is. It’s definitely something that wouldn’t have been intimidating, had CyberConnect just opted to render it in game as a bunch of wonky polygons.

In this particular Little Tail Bronx entry, you’ll be playing as Waffle, the kind dog policeman just getting ready for his day off when the Black Cats gang start messing things up. Thankfully he has the advantage being a trained Police Robo operator which acts like a robotic skeleton with Waffle acting as the head. It’s nothing particularly special. You can swipe in front of you to grab any cats unfortunate enough to be nearby and shoot bubbles to temporarily stun enemies or hurt robots.

Tail Concerto was however meant to be the CyberConnect response to both Super Mario 64 and Nights into Dreams more or less fusing the two to make an action-adventure platformer and it turned out pretty nicer. My only real criticism would be that the controls can be a bit slippery. You can apparently use the analog sticks but whereever that option was, I couldn’t find it so I just used the directional buttons instead. Presumably if I had chosen the other control scheme, I could have controlled the camera as well.

Tail Concerto gives you a nice amount of downtime as well letting you hop out of your mech in your home town to talk with your neighbours. Perhaps even more interesting is that the various items around your house act as the settings menus. The game is pretty lenient, giving you dog whistles which act as extra lives and refilling your health bar anytime you exit to the world map. It’s a fairly compact game that doesn’t throw any huge surprises out but if you just want a laid back relaxing platformer, you can’t really go wrong here.

Developer: CyberConnect
Publisher: Bandai / Atlus (NA)
Released in 1998 (Japan | France) / 1999 (North America)
Platform: Playstation 1