In the late 80s/early 90s, platform games were just starting to find their feet (ignore the pun) and finding new and cruel ways to experiment with the genre. Before the 16-bit systems dominated the platform, the good old Amiga had a game on it called Toki – an arcade port that I was lucky enough to play ‘back in the day’. You played the title character whose girlfriend has been kidnapped by a wizard, who then turns you into an ape that spits fireballs of sorts out of his mouth.
Toki was a short game, but, like most of the games around the time, incredibly difficult. I remember buying the big boxed version of the game and resembling the opposite of an ape, having pulled most of my hair out. In the end, I used a cheat code to finish the game. I had no shame as I was only a kid and had successfully beaten the game. Fast forward a few decades and Toki is now available on the Nintendo Switch. Does it resemble the original title in any way? Yes – it’s still hard, but the visuals have had an overhaul.
The same story applies: Toki is transformed into an ape, and his girlfriend Miho has been kidnapped. Your role is to rescue her by beating each boss in all of the six stages. That’s right – six stages. This game is brief and for an older game, a bit of a premium price on the Nintendo eShop. Is it any good though? Yes, it is, but it’s pretty hard and a game you could swiftly complete in a sitting thanks to a variety of difficulty settings.
Controls are simple. You can move Toki with the d-pad or analogue stick and jump with X or B and shoot with Y or A. His standard ammo is infinite but very effective as you can rapidly mash the button with immediate results. That said, there are powerups throughout such as multiple shots, power shots and flames. In true platform fashion, Toki can also jump on enemies to kill them but also to access items out of reach such as extra lives or protection in the form on an American football helmet. You see, Toki has zero health so projectiles and collision with enemies will result in death.
As an arcade game from the late 80s, this was common – Toki isn’t copying Souls-like formulas – this type of platform game was relentless. To stay in the game, you had to pump in countless coins for continues. With Toki on the Switch, there are a reasonable amount of credits available dependent on your level. Still, once they’re gone, you head back to the start. While each stage is short, the level design is excellent. There’s a decent variety and a few moments to test your timing skills with jumps (the last stage is a nightmare, however). You respawn in suitable enough positions, but there are times where you respawn directly in the path of an enemy mid-attack, and I have to say, that was infuriating.
Toki retains all the elements that made this such a great game amongst gamers of a particular age. Much like other older remakes such as Wonderboy: The Dragon’s Trap, the graphics have been completely redone, and I have to say are gorgeous. I already like the graphics from the original game so was reluctant of change at first, but going back to the original, yes… this overhaul is very welcome. I do miss the original soundtrack though.
There were a few moments where I didn’t even lose a life in a stage. Mostly because the level was short but didn’t require too much effort. Then all of a sudden, an area will spike with a seemingly impossible chasm to jump or mid-boss to defeat while being attacked from all angles. As it’s a one-hit kill for Toki, it doesn’t matter how big or small the enemies are – you will die regardless. I was a little disappointed with several of the bosses as you could easily spam an attack from one side of the screen without being hit. However, there were a few occasions where I was close to defeating the last couple of bosses only to be hit by a rogue shot, then starting again.
As mentioned a few times, it’s mostly the visuals that have been updated – the game remains the same (a good thing) with no apparent extras. An old school arcade game, you collect points for a possible hi-score at the end. If you are that way inclined, you will find it disappointing that there aren’t any online leaderboards/ranking options. However, for gamers such as myself, I’m okay with that. No one needs to know how bad my score is, but the lack of features and short gameplay may not feel like value for money, considering the price of this game at its current standing.
I finished Toki in an afternoon – sporadically playing it, often putting the Switch to sleep to give myself a break. As you can’t select the stage to start with, I would keep the game running in the background. That said, if you start from start to finish, you could complete it in an hour or so; dependent on your skill level and the difficulty of the game. It was notoriously hard the first time around but with this release is a more accessible mode, but also ‘the hardest’ mode which I won’t even entertain. 1) I’m not that good 2) while quite proud of my patience levels, I don’t think I have it in me. Toki and I have a history.
Will this warrant repeat playthroughs? I’m not entirely sure. For gamers such as myself, this is a game to relive some youth. I would have liked the option to switch to the original graphics, and score like some of the LucasArts Remastered titles allow. Being unable to compare hi-scores or even a two-player feature, this could end up being another archived game on your SD card to free up space. Nevertheless, for the brief playthrough it offers, it’s an impressive platform game.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 7/10
Replay Value - 7/10
User Review( votes)
Toki is a classic arcade platform game that looks gorgeous, plays really well and is a nice bit of nostalgia. It is, however, short, the difficulty can be infuriating at times and lacks any sort of extras. A great game but wait for a sale.
Gorgeous remastered graphics and score
Well designed levels
Classic arcade action
Spikes of difficulty can be frustrating
No extra features other than difficulty levels