Blending elements of a traditional rhythm game with more of a rail-shooter mechanic, Tadpole Treble Encore sees you guide an endurable little tadpole called Baton through a dozen levels as she tries to find his way back home.
Between dodging the notes, which appear as black rocks in the water, you'll be collecting bubbles and whacking your tail on any bamboo poles you see, as well as boosting through streams of 'pure water' to add to your score. Hitting cymbals with Baton's tail will increase your score multiplier, but hitting any rocks will send that back down to zero. And if you're struggling, you can hold down the tail-smack button to activate your Treble Charge, making you invulnerable for a short time.
Originally released back on the Wii-U and Steam in 2016, Tadpole Treble Encore comes from Bitfinity, an indie studio founded by two brothers - Matthew and Michael Taranto - who grew up on a love of Nintendo games. Matthew is probably more well-known for his web-comic series, Brawl in the Family, which ran from 2008 to 2014 and included over 600 comics.
That Nintendo influence can be felt throughout the whole game, from the cutesy visuals to the charming cast of characters you encounter. In fact, it could easily be mistaken for a Nintendo IP. I don't think Baton will be finding herself making an appearance in Super Smash Bros. anytime soon, but she wouldn't be out of place. This is a game built around a simple concept and control scheme, that is pretty easy to pick up but difficult to master. You could say that about quite a lot of games involving a certain moustached plumber.
You can breeze through the campaign in around 2-3 hours, with the next stage automatically unlocked once you complete the previous level on any difficulty. Each stage has five medals for you to earn: one for completing the level with any score, medals for achieving the highest (s) and lowest (f) ranks, collecting all 100 bubbles in a single stage in one run and capturing the Challenge Fly hidden somewhere throughout each level.
Those Challenge Flies are probably the easiest to catch, with a hint given before each level. Sometimes they will be cryptic ('move to the beat'), while other times they will straight up turn Baton to a life of crime ('plunder the pirate booty'), but after a couple of playthroughs, it will be pretty obvious what you need to do.
Whether you want to unlock all the rewards in Tadpole will come down to how much fun you've had playing it since you're going to need to replay those levels several times to unlock everything. Completing a level with the highest rank will unlock that track in the music player on the main menu, while the worst rank will unlock developer commentary for that level. There's even a bestiary of all the creatures you'll encounter if you can collect all those bubbles.
None of these additions really change the gameplay in any way, but then the whole point of Tadpole is to master what's already there. And then there's the composition mode, which is probably the strangest thing about the whole game. In composition mode, players can create their own levels - and in doing so, their own music - to share them with other players. It's not quite as in-depth as Super Mario Maker, but it's a very similar concept, except Switch players can't share their expertly crafted sheets online. On the Wii-U and Steam releases, players could share QR codes online, but since the Switch has no camera feature, you're left sharing them with well, I'm not sure who in lockdown.
Barring the odd decision not to add in a sharing feature for composition mode, Tadpole Treble Encore is a welcome addition to the Nintendo Switch, and the latest Wii-U game to find a new home on the portable console. Bitfinity have taken a simple idea and ran with it, creating a rhythm game that you'll keep floating back to.
Tadpole Treble Encore is available on the US Nintendo eShop.