Toki Tori review
Toki Tori is deceptive. It's a game that draws in a casual audience with it's colourful graphics, and 'cute' lead character. It's a game you think will be easy, and might even dismiss it as something for children. However, beneath this soft exterior lurks a challenging puzzle game waiting to jump out at you. Toki Tori was originally released on the Gameboy Color many moons ago, but was updated for a release on the WiiWare service in mid-2008. It received positive reviews, and has also subsequently been a success on the iPhone. Now it has come to the PC, as a cheaper title released on Steam.
Toki Tori is a puzzle platform title where your aim is simply to guide the lead character, the titular Toki Tori, around a level to collect all the eggs. The difficulty comes in with the obstacles you encounter along the way. These include enemies who will kill you on contact, lava flows, and the humble gap in the platforms. The reason this isn't just a platform game is because you're actually looking a for a solution; a sequence of events that you execute at a certain moment in order to succeed. You find out early on that taking certain paths might leave you stuck, for example, in a hole you can't climb out of, and quickly the restart option becomes familiar. Frustration is avoided thanks to ultra-quick loading; just hit the restart button and you're back to the beginning. You can control Toki Tori by clicking on a spot you want to go to, or you can treat it like a more traditional platformer and use the arrow keys, or even plug in an Xbox 360 controller. As well as clever planning, the key to overcoming the obstacles comes from the use of certain powers you've been provided with, including bridge building, an ice beam, and teleportation. Only certain powers are activated on each level, and often feature a limited number of uses. They are easily triggered via icons at the bottom of the screen, which can also be accessed by using the number keys or again the Xbox 360 controller. This combination of timing, planning, and use of powers makes for an intriguing game, with a difficulty level that quickly ramps up after its easy start.
Toki Tori is a curiously standalone title for a modern puzzle game. There's almost no online connectivity at all; there's no multiplayer mode of any form, and no online leaderboards, which, presumably, is because the game focuses on level completion. There are, however, Steam Achievements for you to earn, although these carry far less kudos than those on the Xbox 360, which also have a Gamerscore attached. This lack of the modern 'meta-game' limits the replayability of Toki Tori, and so does the lack of scoring itself. There's nothing to encourage you to play a level again, so completing levels is your only drive. On the other hand, the levels do become increasingly difficult, so actually finishing the game really is a challenge, particularly with the bonus levels. Two Tribes have also promised via an in-game message to release more of these bonus levels for free over time too. There are even levels in this version that weren't in the WiiWare edition.
As mentioned earlier, Toki Tori's art style could best be described as cute, and although its not especially pretty, the graphics are sharp, even at 1920x1080 (1080p). This helps rather than hinders the gameplay, an important characteristic in this genre, and adds to the game's overall atmosphere, as does the background music. Although the music often gets a bit carried away with itself, becoming extremely frantic at times. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, and it certainly gives the game some extra life, but it can attract some strange looks from nearby, so it's probably best played with headphones or the sound off.
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