PC, Mac, Linux, Switch
We’ll get to the name. More importantly, Tux And Fanny is one of the most extraordinarily involved, detailed, and strange games I’ve played in forever. This tale of two best friends, who just want to fix their deflated football, somehow encompasses a single-player co-op adventure, mixed-media surrealism, a collection of many other games played on a recursive computer, and the Warioware-like depiction of a fly’s existential crisis.
For the most part, this is an adventure game, featuring four playable characters (Tux, Fanny, and cat and a flea), in which you hoover up inventory objects and apply them in the appropriate places. But that does this such a massive disservice, given it’s also in parts a first-person Proteus-like with photography, a bird watching sim, and a collection of dozens of minigames that include puzzles, platforming, strategy, arcade, and most importantly, wriggling worms through the intestines of various animals.
And I’m still barely scratching at how much is going on here. There are bugs to discover, flowers to find, cloudgazing to complete. There’s a whole bunch of crafting to do, a bookshelf packed with dozens of books to read, musical instruments to play, codes to crack. Let alone the entire other storylines of the cat and the flea, that overlap with the main. I’ve completed the story after hours and hours, and I’m still playing, with vast amounts still to do.
Finish the game and you can read a strategy guide on the bookshelf, that will hint at any number of huge sections of the game you might have missed, and how to find them, none of them throwaway or asides, but what feel like significant chunks of importance.
Hopefully by this point you’ll have understood that this game has a lot going on. More importantly, it does it all with such aplomb, such a wonderfully peculiar edge, where despite this seeming like it should be the most wholesome of wholesome games, packed with so much joy and friendship, there’s an undertone that keeps peeking through the cracks. Tux and Fanny are best friends, and that’s never in question. But their dreams are… something. And when an ant informs you, “The age of man will soon be over,” it’s hard to feel entirely comfortable.
The writing is amazing throughout, combining the naive joy of the two main characters, with the metaphysical angst of the game’s wildlife. While it feels somewhat redundant to use the word “weirdly” in relation to this game, weirdly its spoken dialogue – despite this seemingly being a Canadian game – is in what appears to be… backward Russian? Tux and Fanny are indvidually voiced, but indecipherable, their words sutitled. It only adds to the experience.
Controls are appropriately bizarre. There is a mouse cursor on the PC version, but it’s mostly redundant. Instead you use the keyboard, mostly the arrow keys and enter, but sometimes WASD and spacebar. This is even more strange when you’re using the computer, controlling its cursor with the arrow keys, but again, it all just feels right in a game so odd. Which of course means there are no issues with the Switch version’s controls.
Music? There’s so much of it. As you play you gather a vast number of vinyl records, which can be played at any time, and mixed into your own soundtrack. It’s all bleepy-bloopy and lovely, apart from a sound effects album which is exactly that. Fancy doing some painting? That’s possible, once you’ve made yourself a paintbrush. Fancy a dance party? There’s a way to get that. Just want to lie on your back and watch the clouds? Go for it. Or just take a break from trying to appease forest goblins and glitching ducks by playing as a flea for a bit, trying to build a new home after losing your previous colony.
So, so much has been poured into this, every tiny crack packed with details and extras. The sheer number of computer games to find and play, some dreadful, some pretty decent, is bewildering. Let alone the amount of art created for one-off throwaway gags. And perhaps most importantly, that created to illustrate the repeated goals to escape from creature’s bottom holes.
I love that this has a 3+ rating, and that’s absolutely appropriate, and yet as an adult playing there is a masterfully sinister undertone, yet not one that ever spoils the overriding happiness. Kids aren’t going to worry that a maggot informs you, “When I’m not eating, I’m screaming.” I’m worrying about that poor maggot, though.
This is astonishing. I desperately hope everyone will play it. I really strongly hope creators Ghost Time Games will release it on Steam, so it will receive the wider attention that just can’t be found on Itch. I’m delighted it’s already on Switch, but do worry that its primitive appearance (very much part of its deliberate style) makes it look like so much disposable churnware plaguing Nintendo’s eStore.
Please do give this your attention. It’s a wonder, one of the most peculiar and adorable games I’ve played. Oh, and the name. Yes, well, it’s a little unfortunate that “fanny” means something a bit ruder in the UK, but nowhere else in the world. They’re just their names, nothing else. I stopped giggling eventually.