Toki Tori review
Move Block, Warp... Crap, Forgot The Bridge
Toki Tori is a simple little game where you guide a chick (... no, not that kind) across a number of levels trying to collect all the eggs while using a limited set of items. That’s essentially the summary, but it does little to prepare you for the challenging nature of the title. So let’s have a look at what this independent game delivers.
The appearance first might make you think it’s a platformer, with the side-on view, various hazards and gaps to navigate. Playing really does change that opinion pretty quickly as you find that your onscreen buddy can’t actually jump and has limited climbing capabilities. This is a puzzle game through and through.
Control in the game is great, with three possible methods. Using the mouse seemed the most comfortable, as you just click on a location to go there, with the game smart enough to not bother trying if the destination is impossible to reach. This method also makes it easy to activate items via the onscreen icons and to hit the rewind and pause functions. Keyboard and controller input is also possible and works well but obviously you have to deal with button inputs for the items and functions so they aren’t as fast or as fluid as mouse input.
Collecting the eggs isn’t just as simple as walking up to them. Many of them will usually require bypassing some kind of obstacle and this is where the items come into play. Need to get across a gap? Try setting a bridge down. A ghost blocking your way? Set a trap for them. The game provides a healthy selection of items and can get quite creative with them, especially when you have to start combining their uses.
This is also where part of the challenge comes into play. Sometimes you can use an item as often as you want, but most of the time you only have a set number of uses and must complete the level with those limitations. If you’re not careful with them you might get yourself stuck. Sometimes multiple solutions seem possible but you find that going one way makes you run out of supplies too soon. Sometimes, the hardest task can be not using items when you don’t need to.
Fortunately, if you do mess up you don’t have to restart the entire level, which would have been a game (and computer) breaker. Hitting rewind will reverse the actions for as long as you rewind. If you decide you don’t need to rewind then you can cancel or if satisfied just confirm it. Even if you happen to die then you can rewind from that instead of starting over. This feature has proved to be a massive lifesaver so many times that I know the game would have outright sucked without it. It isn’t entirely perfect though, as some levels are set up in a manner that if you make a mistake near the start it’s possible to progress quite a way before figuring out you need to rewind all the way back.
It is possible to scroll the screen around to get a view of the whole level should you want to try and plan ahead. It’s a useful feature marred slightly by the game’s instance of snapping the view back to the chick the moment any directional movement is started. I think it would have been more useful to only move the camera when “locked” to the player.
Challenge is definitely something this game brings in by the bucketload. The early levels will naturally start off simple and easy and the game does introduce each element slowly so as to not overwhelm the player with different things. However, things pick up and the game demands more complicated uses of items. It stops being as simple as building a bridge across a gap. You might be asked to build a bridge, drop a block onto it and use that to build another bridge higher up. Another has you guiding enemies to specific spots to freeze them and use as platforms.
Thankfully the game doesn't impose time limits so you can take your time to look around. Well, a couple of levels have "pseudo" time limits like having to race an enemy to the end or else make the level unwinnable, but for the most part you can check the scope of the challenges at your leisure.
The lifespan generally isn’t as impressive as I would hope though. The game boasts 40 normal levels, 40 hard levels, various bonus levels and a level editor. Despite this the levels are relatively short in size and can produce a feeling of repetition the further you get into them. Fortunately the game only costs pocket change so it’s not that bad but it lacks the "meat" I would expect from other games.
The game has some pretty visuals. The quality of the character models used for the chick and the enemies such as the ghosts look great and animate smoothly. Some of the animations can be interesting too, like leaving the chick idle to cause him to cycle through things like reading a book and looking around with binoculars. The environments look nice too. The levels are suitably themed to the world they are in, like the forest stages decorated with plenty of foliage and the castle stages adorned with brickwork and lava.
The game’s interface is also very clear. Big colourful arrows indicate if the player can move to the highlighted spot. Icons are clearly displayed along the lower part of the screen. Menu options are large as well.
If there’s one area I feel the game flat out fails then it would be the audio. I don’t think much of the overly chirpy tunes they use to begin with, even despite the attempts to match the themes to the settings. What bothers me more is just how repetitive and mind numbing the music can be. This is especially true when you’re stuck on a puzzle and the music continues to drill into your mind to the point of encouraging mass genocide against little chicks worldwide. It’s so bad I now mute the music when I play, which is seriously bad because I can’t remember the last time I found myself having to do that. The sound effects thankfully aren’t too bad but I couldn’t pick out anything great about them either.
Toki Tori isn’t a particularly long game but it is challenging and for the price it could certainly prove to be a good time waster, especially during breaks of playing more involved titles. Just make sure you’ve got your thinking cap on and the music volume way down and you’re good to go.