Video Games

Tiny Tina’s Wonderland – Zero Punctuation

Tiny Tina's Wonderland - Zero Punctuation

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Hey, kids! Are you trying to write a comedic play but worried you won’t get the chops? Well, worry no more! You don’t. But you can pretend until you do with the patented Borderlands method! A simple three-step process that will turn any dry functional line of dialogue into jaw-dropping hilarity. First step: say it. Step Two: Keep talking like you’re a socially inept party boy who just got his first line of coke. Stage Three: Transitioning to a sort of awkward tangent to reflect a level of self-awareness otherwise largely absent from work. Let’s see it in action! “Go through this door” becomes “Go through this door because there is probably treasure on the other side and by treasure I mean more hideous violence against strangers which is treasure to me. My doctor says that I should go out more. Was that funny or what? No, it wasn’t. Not the slightest. But there’s kind of a comedic vibe about it and maybe that’s all you You know it’s comedy in the sense that Owen Wilson is an actor Obviously I’m being facetious here there’s a lot more to Borderlands’ specific brand of humor than just characters talking too much Sometimes they do it in a silly voice too.And some of them shout a lot.

It’s no wonder, then, that the main character of the Borderlands series was Tiny Tina, a character who shouts a lot AND puts on a silly voice. Which apparently sets her apart enough from all the other neon-tinged overshared quest givers that she’s getting her own game now. I directed a fair amount of bile at Borderlands and occasional moments of awkward, unimpressed silence when I hadn’t hydrated properly that day, but that just meant its spin-off Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands hadn’t nowhere to go, especially right after playing Babylon’s A fall that could inhale all the bile in the world and won’t stop sucking until it spits out your ankles. And after all that, I hated Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands a lot less than I thought. I mean obviously I hated every moment a character opened their goddamn mouth to deliver another stream of overwritten and pointless lolrandom flavored text, but on the other hand the game didn’t seem like it was trying to be cool in more trying to be funny, and that pretty much lowered the cringe to a tolerable background level. The dialogue aside from the overhanging premise isn’t unpleasant.

The entire game is a visualization of Tiny Tina’s D&D campaign, so her basically cliche fantasy world constantly rides the fourth wall like a self-analyzing exercise bike, and unfolds in accordance with the screaming, silly whims of her Creator. There’s even a whole gag that made me laugh. Spoiler-free, this was the method by which the protagonist crosses the ocean near the end of the second act. And I laughed because of the visuals, not because of what anyone said. Fuck write that, Gearbox. Either way, the plot is that Tiny Tina is playing D&D with the three individuals she hasn’t finished alienating yet: Borderlands’ beautiful selfish person who talks too much and the violence-loving robot from Borderlands who talks too much, and the protagonist, who is silent until they go through their character customization and choose their voice pack, after which they talk too much. We embarked on a quest to travel across the land and defeat the evil dragon lord, who, let’s just say, couldn’t be described as the taciturn type. Still, the fact that the characters all talk too much can be enjoyed as an overhanging meta-joke as it undermines the overall tone of the epic fantasy story, even if all the individual gags make me want to blow in the writers mouth and not stop until their corpses function as airships.

Overall, and take that for the hugely qualified statement it is, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is probably the Borderlands game I’ve enjoyed playing the most. Or less liked. And it’s a Borderlands game, you might be fooled initially when the first thing it tutorial is to attack with a melee weapon. But then you notice that the default control for this is an exotic far key that your finger needs a sherpa and a week’s supply of to get to it and then shortly after the game gives you some sort of hand crossbow which I guess still fits the theme but then the facade finally falls and it’s back to the classic Borderlands experience, shoot enemies, fill your invisible wheelbarrow with all the shotguns that corpses fart, make sure you’ve equipped the shotgun with the highest numbers then wheelbarrow the rest to the nearest pawnshop. There are RPG elements and multiple player classes with different special attacks, but it’s just the playing cards rattling on the spokes of the ever-spinning wheel that shoots dudes and scans shotgun numbers, a heady mix of high-impact violence and data validation. Not that you have to put a lot of work into parsing the shotgun, you can just blindly equip whatever gives you the highest gear score.

But if you do that once in a while you get screwed over by random gun generation and end up with a sniper rifle that only shoots pieces of corrugated cardboard that leave the barrel at a forty angle -five degrees, which theoretically has the highest damage potential. but only if it shoots inside the enemy’s rectum. Where Teeny Wonder’s Tittybar differs from Borderlands is that it uses a representative map screen rather than a large connected world, but I welcome that. I have huge overworlds blocking all the sinks and body orifices in my house, I appreciate having fewer trips. The map is dotted with little mini-dungeons and random encounters that teleport you to one of the few cut-and-paste environments for even more gunfighting, but let’s face it, most Borderlands games are endless sequences of gunfights that could just as well have been copied and pasted, so I appreciate the mask that comes off there. The random encounters that appear if you’re walking through tall grass seem particularly pointless, but they can be undone by punching them in the chops as if to say “No!” Bad random encounter! so it’s doubly useless as a game mechanic, but I wish more RPGs with random encounters had the ability to just slap them.

Oh shit, I just had a horrible thought that someone could sum this video up as overall positive. Better to nip that in the bud. It’s my favorite Borderlands game in the sense that the rinsing and spitting is my favorite part of the dentist appointment. I still prefer to do something else. After a while when the game starts requiring you to do a minimum number of side quests to be leveled enough for the next storyline mission and most side quests only involve going through another battle of copy-and-paste guns, but with another stupid person yelling at them, the overwhelming work of the inevitable grind only becomes more apparent. I leave it to my personal taste whether the self-aware comedic tone enhances the dullness of the grind or somehow worsens it, like a madness killer apologizing first. I felt that I needed to clarify my position because people told me that I had been too easy on games lately. Maybe as I got older I realized that there are better things to waste your energy on than getting angry at things that never change. Like cleaning the shower drains. Or by harvesting transplantable retinas from the eyeballs of unwanted shelter animals. Or knit.