Spilt Milk Studios tap into the 80’s action movie vibe, bringing a fun twin-stick shooter to the table with Tango Fiesta. Can it recreate some of that 80’s magic? Read the full review below.
Game: Tango Fiesta
Developer: Spilt Milk Studios
Reviewed on: Steam (PC)
Tango Fiesta’s official Steam release has certainly been a long time coming. Originally springing to life in 2012 at EGX Rezzed’s Game Jam event, the premise is simple and taps into that 80’s action movie staple, a small group of dudes shooting guns at a larger group of dudes with blatant disregard for personal safety. The set up is simple – main character John Strong is drawn back into action alongside former chums, initially to save his kidnapped wife but spiralling out of control, destroying everything in his path! At the beginning of each mission you select a character from a roster made up of facsimiles of famous 80’s movie characters (Strong sits somewhere between Bruce Willis and Arnold Shwarzenegger), pick a loadout of two weapons and – you’re off! Levels always contain the same objectives – blow up this building, hack this terminal. However, the layout is randomly generated (with the exception of boss battles which seem to take place on the same map layout). Beat the objectives, proceed to the next level. Easy enough right?
Survival is the key in Tango Fiesta and that gives the game an interesting groove. Enemies spawn in at random times. Most of them carry gold which can be used between missions to buy new weapons for your arsenal, but some carry ammo, health or both. The trick is picking out these enemies among a crowd of similarly designed goons, taking them down and recharging with ammo and life. Speaking of design, I’m in two minds about whether the visuals of TF work 100%. The characters hold a quasi Guacamelee-esque cartoon quality to them which makes the initial design decisions quite attractive, however when in game the level visuals are quite simplistic and the character animation a little uncoordinated. In particular, the gun you wield at the time sort of hovers over your character sprite and rotates to face the direction you are aiming in where most of the time it doesn’t even look like your character is holding the gun, which is rather jarring. At worst, the game looks a bit like a flash title that would be found on Newgrounds circa 2002, but the nice character designs and pop culture references even that out somewhat.
What is slightly problematic, however, is the control system. The game can be played with controller or mouse and keys, but the game was clearly designed to be played using the former. Aiming isn’t flowing and is fixed to an eight axis system; up, down, left, right and diagonals. While using the mouse you can move the aiming reticule between these points, your gun won’t move until you reach the spot where the allowed aiming comes in. While mouse should allow things to be more accurate, this system makes mouse aiming unnecessarily hard. To that end, I’d recommend using a controller, which isn’t always a great recommendation for a PC game! It should also be noted that the game only supports Xbox controllers – I tried a number of standard PC controllers, as well as several PlayStation controllers via a USB adapter, but none were picked up reliably in the game.
Outside of the standard campaign, Tango Fiesta comes with both off and online co-op modes allowing up to four people to partake in the shooty madness. Disappointingly I didn’t get to try the online mode as, every time I tried to join a game, I found no active servers. While this does not bode well for the potential community TF may be trying to garner, there is at least the option of offline co-op which, in a game like this, is far preferable for a fun few minutes at a social gathering.
Tango Fiesta is fun as a throwaway blast; missions don’t tend to take too long, it’s not too tactically taxing and it’s a reasonably priced title. I’d say that the experience will wear thin if you want a purely solo game, however the pop culture references are plenty and the co-op modes will liven up with a bunch of mates. Try it offline with some beers and pizza, sandwiched between a double bill of Commando and Predator and you’re well on your way to a fun night in, but be aware of problematic control schemes and make sure you’ve got four Xbox controllers to hand.