Being a reviewer who welcomes lighter gameplay experiences with open arms, I downloaded Toki Tori off the European PSN knowing exactly what to expect… or so I thought. The familiarity I had with this title in the past (when it was first released on the GameBoy Colour) was still present, but I’d forgotten something – it’s properly hard. Don’t let the cutesy graphics and diddly-dee happy forest land hide the truth from you. It starts off timid enough, but gets rather intense once the tutorial levels are cleared.
Toki Tori is an alarmingly overweight yellow bird who has tasked himself with rescuing his yet-to-hatch brethren from the various dangerous environments. Seemingly too young (or fat) to properly fly yet, Toki Tori must rely on his razor sharp bird wit, a plethora of bizarre tools and his abilities to safely navigate the terrain and collect all the eggs. Simples.
Well, simple enough for the first ten or so levels.After that, you’ll frequently find yourself snookered for lengthy periods on one challenge. As mentioned before, Toki Tori is unable to fly, so players are constantly grounded and having to traverse on foot. Luckily, most levels have ladders allowing our feathered friend to move up and down. Watch out for enemies though; a quick flick of the right analogue stick will give you a helpful overview of the entire area to scout before making any decisions.
To help in his adventure, Toki Tori can make use of a number of tools at his disposal. Some levels offer unlimited use of these items, while others don’t. In such cases, resourcefulness becomes the key to success. Toki Tori’s night courses in carpentry come in particularly handy as he can build bridges across small gaps. Also, his mysterious mastering of teleportation can get him out of some sticky situations – trapped yourself in a hole? Why not pass through solid walls at the touch of a button? Despite his impressive arsenal however, Toki Tori can still make mistakes. Thankfully, there’s a rather merciful rewind feature that can undo any muck-ups or even send you right back to the start if you fancy a clean slate.
Developer Two Tribes delectable puzzle platformer really comes into its own as the experience progresses. I did manage to get myself hopelessly stuck for ages on certain levels, although my stubborn attitude kept convincing me that the answer was staring me right in the face. Most of the time, it actually was. All I had to do was use my rotten, underworked brain to figure out how Toki Tori’s tools can work together. On one occasion, after using my Freeze-o-matic to reduce a pesky porcupine into an ice cube, I found myself completely bamboozled. I’ve frozen the enemy, but now I can’t get past the ice! I even teleported up and down between levels before a spark went off, stimulating the mush between my ears: Teleport past the ice… genius. Alas, on the odd occasion, brute stubbornness wasn’t enough to avoid defeat. The “Wildcard” option hovered temptingly in the pause menu, allowing me to skip straight to the next level. The sneaky developers don’t let you away that easy though, as the challenge you were initially stuck on beforehand needs to be properly beaten in order to use the Wildcard again. Curses!
Once the learning hurdle has been cleared, puzzle enthusiasts will be very pleased with the package contained in Toki Tori. For example, the out-dated graphics have been beautifully remade in glorious HD, and while this is something we’ve come to expect in downloadable re-releases, it still took me by surprise as I travelled through the various worlds admiring the pretty forests and creepy castles. It’s great to see a classic with high resolution visuals that still manages to retain that terrific 2D charm. It also helps that the lively soundtrack compliments the cutesy look and feel of the entire game, even if it gets rather annoying when you’re forced to listen to it constantly while trying to crack the fiendishly difficult puzzles. Tech savvy TV owners will also be glad to hear that Toki Tori can be played in 3D. I can’t imagine what this would add to the experience but hey, useful or not, it’s still a new feature.
All else aside, it eventually boils down to patience. If you’re the kind of gamer that despises trial-and-error gameplay, you’ve probably already made a decision as to whether or not you’re going to enjoy this. Regardless, I recommend you give it a try. Technically, I would be classed as an idiot. I’d whoop your ass all day on Tekken, but put me in a mentally challenging videogame and I’m as useful as mashed potatoes. The point to my self-deprecation? I still enjoyed Toki Tori. That being the case, everyone should find something to like with this game. Give it a chance and the rewarding gameplay might just surprise you. Put it this way, the sense of accomplishment in completing a level is the equivalent of getting 100 headshots on Call of Duty.
Do a Google search, I bet no other writer mentioned Call of Duty in their Toki Tori review… That’s the army game for PC, right?
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 3 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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