- Developer: Snoozy Kazoo
- Publisher: Graffiti Games
- Release Date: 22/04/21
- Price: £13.49 / $14.99
- Review code provided by Graffiti Games
Introducing: Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion Review
Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion has to be one of the weirdest video game titles that I have ever come across. There is, however, a lot more on offer here, for retro video game enthusiasts, than just quirky title. Turnip Boy is a delightful, if brief, romp that pays homage to many classic Nintendo adventures. While Turnip Boy himself bears a striking resemblance to Nintendo’s own Kirby, the gameplay however is more akin to the Legend of Zelda. The overworld has a distinct Link to the Past vibe (especially the trees). Your health is represented by an honest to goodness heart meter, which is incremented upon every time a boss is defeated. Even the text which accompanies the discovery of your first weapon includes a charming zeldaesque pun. In fact, everywhere you look in this game, there is a great sense of humour, which kept me smiling throughout the short time I spent with it. So, without further ado, let’s get to the root of what makes this game so special, and if I have botany concerns, you’ll be hearing about them too.
Turnip down for what?
Let’s dive right into the incredibly bizarre story that serves as a loose motivation for the game. You take on the role of Turnip Boy – the proud owner of a rather nice greenhouse, which he has neglected to pay property tax for. His failure to, do the decent thing and, actually pay his taxes has not gone unnoticed by the Mayor of Veggieville who enlists you as his personal assistant to help work off your debt. You’ll return to Mayor Onion several times throughout your adventure to deliver some kind of MacGuffin, which he needs for some nefarious purpose, and to be directed towards the next one. As you explore the overworld, you’ll come face to face with an eccentric cast of vegetable and fruit- based characters, many of which have an unusual request to make of you. This usually takes the form of a fetch quest. You will also uncover a rudimentary backstory which explains, among other things, why Hoo-mans are no longer around, and why there are a load of talking vegetables everywhere.
The controls leaf something to be desired – just dill with it!
This game was made to be played with a d-pad. I played the whole thing using my official Super Nintendo Entertainment System Controller, which added to the retro feel of the game beautifully. Straight off the bat though, I noticed a rather unusual and frankly annoying issue. Simply put, when navigating the menus, the A and B buttons are reversed. That is to say, B selects and A cancels. Now this might seem like a trifling matter, but I have been raised over the decades to believe that A accepts and B backs out. To have that notation challenged every time I booted up the game was more disorientating that you would expect.
While we’re on the subject of annoying controls that could easily be fixed, I have to mention the very weird and frustrating button assignments. Aside from the d-pad, you will only be using three other buttons during gameplay (four if you count pause). A uses your active tool, Y selects your active tool and B is used to dodge (which isn’t really necessary until maybe the final boss fight). X, L, R, ZL and ZR are not used at all. OK now here’s the frustrating bit. There are only three tools in the entire game which you actively use by pressing a button; a weapon, a watering can and a portal making thingamajig. Stopping to swap between them as you progress through a dungeon or worse – in a boss fight, becomes incredibly tedious. More times than I care to admit, I fell victim to swinging my watering can, rather than my sword, at an enemy because I had unwittingly equipped the wrong tool. But here’s the thing. There are only three tools! Why not use A, for your weapon, Y for your watering can and X for your portal-maker? It’s such an easy fix and would makes the gameplay so much smoother.
The game features a couple of accessibility options that make it easier for children (or those not looking for too much of a challenge) to progress. God mode makes you completely invincible (that’s incapable of losing life – not deadly to the touch) and Turnip Boy’s strength can be increased by up to three times. Honestly though, the game isn’t too challenging and I feel like the addition of a hard mode would be welcome alongside these options. I would also highly recommend turning the screenshake option down to 0%. Having the screen shake every time you are hit by an enemy gets old pretty fast and makes the game chug a little resulting in some noticeable frame skips.
I hope thistle cheer you up
The game comprises of a series of dungeons that are accessed through a relatively small overworld. A top-down perspective is used throughout and dungeons are tackled one room at a time, in a typical, Zelda-like, fashion. You will come to realise, pretty soon, that Turnip Boy hates taxes. I mean like – really hates taxes! He is so vehemently opposed to them in fact, that he will not hesitate to rip up any documentation (receipts, personal letters, photographs of loved ones, etc.) that mentions taxes in any way, shape or form. He keeps a record of all the documentation he… disposes of, within the start menu. This might seem like a fairly trivial task, but you do need to obliterate any mention of the word taxes if you want the real true ending to the game. Thankfully, they are not too difficult to come across, and if you do miss any, you’ll be given some hints to find them, and any other artifacts you may have missed, by an all-knowing cat after you have completed the game. The only other items which you may wish to collect, if that sort of thing appeals to you, are heart containers (cough – Zelda – cough) or hats, which serve as optional cosmetic upgrades.
The game features a retro 16-bit pixel art aesthetic, which will tug on the nostalgic heartstrings of some – myself included – but potentially put off some younger players. My own 5-year-old daughter described the look of the game as “too squarish” and commented that “a 3-year-old must have invented it”. To each their own I suppose. The art style does deviate from the 16-bit format however, every time that you pick up an item or have a conversation with a NPC. The native flora is depicted in a wonderfully cute, chibi inspired art style that will have even the most hardened gamer swooning with delight.
The background soundtrack is neither memorable or offensive, but it does complement the retro and cute aesthetic rather well. There is no voice acting in the game whatsoever. All of your interactions with the denizens of vegetable kingdom are entirely text based, which makes for A LOT of reading. This might make the game unsuitable for younger players, but you do get the option to play in wide variety of languages. On completing the game, you will be treated to a rather pleasant song that summarises the plot quite succinctly. Other than that, the soundtrack is entirely midi-based.
Final thoughts: Herb your enthusiasm
Turnip Boy is relatively short adventure (I clocked in at about 4 hours) but a humorous one. If you are the kind of person who loves a 2D Zelda game, and you are not looking for something too long, then this is the game for you. On the other hand, if you would like a little more bang for your buck, then you would be better off investing in something like Blossom Tales or even Link’s Awakening (if indeed you haven’t done so already).
- Plenty of humour and a charming aesthetic.
- Weird and wonderful cast of characters.
- Influenced by some of the greatest games of all time.
- Short play time.
- Frustrating button assignments.
- Lacklustre soundtrack.