When Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands first came out, it didn’t pique my interest much. I’d just gone on a Borderlands binge with Charles. All four games played back to back to back (to back?) so yeah…I was a bit burnt out on the franchise.
And okay fine, I’ll admit it: while I found Tiny Tina’s murderous, foul-mouthed savagery mixed with a dash of innocence a wonderful addition to the zaniness that abounds in Borderlands, I wasn’t sure I wanted to endure a whole game of her affectations. Plus, there was also the whole Dungeons and Dragons RPG aspect of Wonderlands that I couldn’t quite imagine working as the premise for a video game. Boy, was I f@$king wrong!
It’d been about a year since I’d taken a hiatus from vault hunting. And as is often the case with my gaming library, I stumbled upon Wonderlands on sale in the XBox store. It was $36 for the Next Level Edition, which is pretty much half price. I learned my lesson long ago that $70 for a game I wind up tepid about stings like a b!tch. But less than $40, I can choke that down and move on. To my surprise, Wonderlands turned out to be an amazing addition to the franchise.
As soon as I started to play, it was like spying an old flame across a dimly lit barroom, that one that you parted with not because of spite or disgust, but simply because your paths diverged and since then you’d thought: what if? And there they are looking finer than ever and you walk over to say hi, their eyes light up and a smile tugs at their lips, you hug and then you know it. The spark ignites into a raging it’s gonna be one of those nights involving a zip ties, chicken feathers, and a jacuzzi full of lime Jello. Yeah, playing Wonderlands was like that.
I’d forgotten how the creators of Borderlands compose a symphony of sarcasm, dark humor, and absurdity, sprinkled with an undertone of tragedy. It’s a recipe few games can pull off, but each and every time they have. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is no exception. And I’d forgotten how much I love inhabiting that wild and wacky world.
One of Wonderlands biggest successes is the writing. Being a writer myself, I appreciate masters of the craft. I also thank the writers for scaling back Tiny Tina just a bit. Just enough that her slang-heavy, colloquial style of speaking doesn’t get tiresome. But they left enough of the character’s TikTok diva attitude that she remains true to what you’d expect of her. There are also poignant moments where she reveals her fears and loneliness. The strong dialogue voiced by the oh-so talented Ashly Burch, Wanda Sykes, and Andy Samberg (who I’m pretty sure is Adam Sandlers’ love child…just sayin’) conjures up a fanciful masterpiece
The main quest and side missions parody every fairytale imaginable, both old school and contemporary. And the devs flaunt it at every turn which made me laugh out loud at times. You’ve got Ron Ribolte who fights a “cyclops” clocktower to rescue his love, Princess Daffodil. There’s Raiders of the Lost Shark. Not to mention nods to Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid, Pirates of the Caribbean, Pinocchio, Lord of the Rings, even a couple dabs of Star Wars. I could go on and on, but for the a player who knows their legends and lore, the references are everywhere and masterfully (and amusingly) reinterpreted.
I gotta give a shout out to my favorite reference: Gerritt of Trivia, master monster slayer. He even brags about bedding a woman while mounted atop a unicorn. I damn near dropped my controller I was fangirling so badly. You know I love my Witcher so I highly recommend The Ditcher side quest.
If I had to find something to complain about, the only thing that comes to mind is the loot. Not enough? No, quite the contrary. There’s an overwhelming amount of it. And most of it is crap. But once in a while, you find that pearl amongst the mound of oyster shells which makes all the grinding worthwhile. It’s OP and therefore so are you. Also, selling the crap loot is the primary way you earn gold though you are paid for every quest.
I don’t often rate games because reviews aren’t the primary purpose of this blog, but I’d give Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands a 10/10. I also loved the message from the devs at the end of the game. It basically says that they love their gamer fan base and wanted to create something that brings people together even if they cant physicallybe together. This was inspired by the COVID lockdowns. What a beautiful idea. We love you too, Gearbox.
Even though I’ve finished the main quest of the game, there’s still a ton of content left. I’m so reticent to leave this world, I’m doing side missions and challenges after the fact. That’s rare for me. I even checked the list of achievements. I’m considering platinum’ing the game. Sorry, I mean completing all the achievements. I’m on XBox now, gotta stop with the PlayStation lingo. But point being, I’m not a completionist, but for Tiny Tina, I could be.
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