Toki Tori 2 is a puzzle-platformer available currently for the Wii U and soon for PC via Steam. Two Tribes B.V. developed and published the game, which is a sequel to the original Toki Tori. Their first game as a studio, Toki Tori came out on the GameBoy Color in 2001 and while it was praised for its smart puzzle gameplay, the game was not highly adopted by the public. This did not mean that Two Tribes did not have more plans for the loveable Toki Tori. While they worked on plenty of other games including the well-received EDGE, they kept Toki Tori in gamers’ minds through an HD remake of the game that both critics and gamers enjoyed. Announced in 2011, Toki Tori 2 has gone through several delays due to needing more development time. Finally releasing on Apr 4 on the Wii U’s eShop, has the extra time benefited the chubby chick’s new adventure?
So, what is the story? Toki Tori begins his adventure without any hint of trouble, he is moving through this idyllic world and everything is good. His fellow citizens are happy too and nothing seems amiss. Until he journeys in deep and then the world starts to come apart at the seams. Thick geysers of black goo shoot up from the ground and tear the world apart. This substance separates Toki Tori from his friends and now he must head in deeper to figure out what is going wrong with his world and to save it from total destruction. More than that, he wants to bring his friends back to a world they can all enjoy. There is also a weird prophecy undercurrent with all this stuff that makes sense a couple hours into the game.
Toki Tori 2’s gameplay is comprised primarily of Toki Tori discovering the unique properties of the creatures in his world, how those properties work and then taking advantage of them to move forward. For his own part, Toki Tori can do two things, he can ground stomp to affect objects or creatures and he can sing. Small white birds will teach him certain songs that will make his journey not only easier, but make it possible for him to progress on his journey. There are no text tutorials in the game, on either how the songs work or what these specific creatures can do. Visual cues are important to notice because they will reveal to the player what they should do in order to get past a roadblock. The game is about experimentation and learning exactly how to manipulate the creatures and the geographical make-up of the world’s areas.
As a Metroidvania style game, Toki Tori can go anywhere from the beginning of the game if the player understands exactly how to use the creatures in each area to get past the various areas. While this is commendable that the developer did not put limits to the players exploring, there are certain areas that the player can access early on that can get them stuck. While every areas puzzle has a solution that only takes tinkering and time to figure out, being stuck on a specific part early on without access to the fast travel song can be frustrating. Yet the draw of Toki Tori 2’s gameplay is that very same experimentation and learning exactly how to take advantage of the creatures in the area to move past a difficult spot. There is an intense gratification to figuring out exactly how to use a blue frog’s bubbles to reach the next checkpoint, and moving to a new area that adds more complexity with new creatures. Toki Tori 2 does not hold anyone’s hand, but rather puts its confidence in the player to figure out what to do next.
Graphics and Sound
Visually, the game features lush cartoony graphics that is bright and vibrant. With a cute art style that gives a huge amount of personality to the silent creatures that, populate the world of Toki Tori 2. Toki Tori is a plump little guy that oozes charm and the game itself is challenging players not to fall in love with it. The backdrops to the smartly constructed levels are interesting and have a great amount of detail that alludes to the depth of this cartoony world. The music is delightful and very listenable, which is great because often the player will be stuck listening to the same tunes over and over again noodling over a puzzle. Each of the creatures makes their own unique sounds and it adds to the layers of this world’s unique ecology.
Toki Tori 2 is a smart game with puzzles that range from simply feeding a purple insect to a blue frog to challenging feats of position lasers into proper order and riding a complex series of bubbles to a new ledge. The biggest benefit to Toki Tori 2 is its clever puzzles and ability to put trust in the player’s ability to solve them. No puzzle is unsolvable, it merely takes diligent experimentation and if players keep at it, they will be able to enjoy the multitude of charms that the game offers. There exists a chasm between gameplay and story that developers constantly grapple with, Toki Tori 2 offers a unique take on how to keep the player in control. Eventually, Toki Tori 2 will appear on other platforms, but the Wii U offers some advantages that will likely be lost in translation like the fun picture taking that uses the GamePad to document the various creatures in the game. It remains to be seen, but the Wii U will likely be the fullest way to enjoy this charmingly smart puzzle game.
A copy of the game was provided for the purpose of this review.