It has been over a decade since the plucky, yellow chick Toki Tori debuted on the GameBoy Color. Toki Tori didn’t explode in gamers’ collective imaginations or become a household name and, unfortunately, the first Toki Tori under performed. Yet there is something about this round fowl that made developer Two Tribes revisit the original adventure a few times over in the form of enhanced remakes for smartphones, Wii and PC. On his second go around, Toki Tori fared better with gamers. Now, Two Tribes is poised to release Toki Tori 2, a puzzle-platformer, on Wii U and PC (through Steam).
Toki Tori 2’s gameplay mechanics are simple. The little guy can stomp or sing while moving backward or forward. He cannot jump to avoid enemies or attack them to get rid of them. Toki Tori must use the song in his heart and his wits to get around what bars his progress. What makes these two functions work so well is that they are used in inventive and often obscure ways to help Toki Tori solve the puzzles and obstacles that block his path.
When playing through the Alpha build (current to a few weeks ago), Toki Tori begins in a placid forest area before moving to a dark, dank and dangerous cave area. In Toki Tori 2, each area is a large place to explore and solve puzzles with secrets to find for diligent and clever explorers. The levels are not broken up but have long form puzzle-solving with checkpoints spread throughout them.
The forest level is completely calm and devoid of any dangerous enemies. This is a perfect introduction to the game because it allows players to acclimate to using Toki Tori’s stomp to push obstacles to the side. For example, crab rocks block Toki Tori’s route and the chick must move little purple bugs into the eager mouth of a hungry frog. As well, it gives players a chance to use Toki Tori’s song notes to capture the attention of hovering humming birds or frogs that are on a cliff so that these creatures move into a better position to help him solve a puzzle. The forest world empowers the player to tinker with Toki Tori 2’s many moving parts and see how each of them works. Learning these first basic creature functions and solving the easier puzzles prepare players for much harder challenges.
During the forest level, Toki Tori learns his first song that allows him to wrap back to an earlier checkpoint when he gets stuck. This resets the puzzle elements and gives the player a chance to be successful.
Once finding his way out the forest, Toki Tori moves through a world map onto a cave in the mountains. It is here where the difficulty begins to ramp up. Now, Toki Tori must really be cautious because the path is dark and full of danger. From electrified spiny bugs to mischievous voodoo masks, Toki Tori must outwit enemies to move through the cave. The puzzles become more complex as players not only have to avoid enemies, but also must figure out how to use previous elements (hummingbirds, toads, bugs, etc.) to move forward while also finding light sources to rouse on these elements. The adorable critters are as scared of the dark, as Toki Tori is, but unlike him they don’t possess an unbridled bravery. Toki Tori must lure fireflies and light bugs around to show these creatures that the path is safe. It is hugely satisfying to solve some of the more difficult puzzles and, if this is but a taste of what Toki Tori 2 will offer gamers, then they are in for a treat.
While they were unavailable in the preview of Toki Tori 2 made available for this article, the Wii U version will feature specific and unique GamePad functions. The game will be playable using the Wii U’s second screen but instead of always being on the screen, the player has the choice of where they want the main game to display. When playing on a TV, the GamePad will display a map and the songs that Toki Tori has learned so players can use them freely as they move through each of the game’s levels. The big feature of the GamePad is the TokiDex Camera, which allows gamers to use the GamePad to take pictures of creatures and objects in the game. By moving the GamePad around, the player can snap pictures of the 40 things to shoot in the game. Capturing them all will unlock a nice secret. There will be other features down the road like a level editor but it is not likely to launch with the game.
Toki Tori 2 seems like it will be an extremely fun game with some inventive puzzle challenges. The game has lush graphics oozing with charm and players will fall in love with all the adorable creatures that populate the world, not to mention Toki Tori himself. The music is delightful and pairs well with the art style and look of the game. There seems to be plenty of secrets and things to unlock in each of the levels, so players will likely backtrack and replay to find everything. The game is shaping up nicely and hopefully Toki Tori 2 carves out a place in gamers’ hearts when it releases on Wii U and PC this month.