I never could handle puzzle games that spread beyond my peripheral vision. Even the simplest puzzles would render my brain nearly inoperable if I had to manage multiple parts that I couldn’t view on the screen at the same time. Tiger Trio’s Tasty Travels inexplicably understands this, somehow, putting all the moving parts before me at once for my dopey little brain to handle.
Oink Games’ new puzzler is beautifully simple, but somehow excruciatingly difficult at the same time. As the titular Tiger Trio, you’re placed in charge of a conveyor belt of sushi and other Japanese delicacies and tasked to get them to the other end of the belts in the correct quantities, and to the correct customers.
Not wanting to besmirch the good name of service industry workers, the pressure’s on to deliver every customer exactly what they ordered. Each of the Tiger Trio performs a different task: the big tiger can switch around the sushi rolling down the conveyor belt, for example, so if there’s green sushi starting off on the left conveyor belt, and the customer who ordered it is at the end of the belt on the right, you need to position the big tiger in between the two belts.
Things quickly spiral out of control though, because this wouldn’t be a puzzle game if there wasn’t a sharp difficulty incline. With each successive location that the Tiger Trio venture into, there’s a new comrade who joins them in their quest to serve delicious delicacies, each of them adding a crucial new ability that you need to factor in when guiding sushi down the multiplying conveyor belts.
A gorilla that switches over sushi to different belts? Sure. A smaller tiger that pulls sushi out of nowhere to dollop them on passing plates? You got it. A pug that only responds to sushi of a specific color? Yeah, I guess. Each of these creatures needs to be factored in and correctly positioned so the sushi finds its end goal, and the customers are left with beaming grins instead of puzzled faces of frustration.
The aesthetics of Oink Games’ puzzler are simply sublime. There’s a charming hand-drawn vibe to all of the humanoid characters you operate throughout Tiger Trio’s Tasty Travels, and even if the pug does look downright demonic, that only adds to the personality of this lovely little game. There’s a simplistic score accompanying the game throughout, which lets out a heartwarming jingle when you solve a level, as all the animals dance in time to celebrate.
I don’t think I’ve ever played a puzzle game quite as satisfying as Tiger Trio’s Tasty Travels. You’ll end up spending minutes staring at the screen, trying to work out in your head where to position each creature for the optimal end result. Hell, I even got close to drawing diagrams at one point, fully giving in to the state of mind and dedication that ultra-hard puzzle game The Witness demanded of me.
Press the play button, and everyone springs to life in their assigned roles from where you previously positioned them during the planning phase. There’s an unbelievable satisfaction to seeing one plate of sushi descend down the conveyor belt after the other, each following a carefully plotted pathway that you’ve been planning out in your head since your eyes first met the puzzle itself.
I’d find myself unwittingly holding my breath while each plate undertook its journey, allowing myself to omit an audible "YES" whenever one plate successfully hit home. It’s like setting up the parts of an interlocking machine and, after so much precise preparation, finally letting it loose to see if the whole thing actually works and functions as planned. There are no monetary or item-based gains for completing any of the puzzles in Tiger Trio’s Tasty Travels, but the satisfaction in accomplishing a puzzle and breaking down the task facing you towers far above anything the game could offer me otherwise. Oink Games’ new adventure appears simple on the surface, but the excellent difficulty curve and obsessive puzzle pieces in the form of animals make this one of the most memorable puzzle games I’ve ever experienced.
Tiger Trio's Tasty Travels is out now on Nintendo Switch.