To-Fu Collection Review
Game: To-Fu Collection
Publisher: Rising Star Games
Available on: Nintendo DS Only
Mobile phone gaming began, and ended, for me with O.G “Snake” on my work’s Nokia mobile. It has never really been a platform I have been interested in, and save for a brief lunchtime flirtation with Fruit Ninja on my mate’s iPhone, stuff like Angry Birds and Greensie’s favourite way to idle away time in the supermarket queue, Jetpack Joyride, have passed this old lumbering dinosaur by.
I know I am missing out, something that becomes all too evident when publishers decide to port a big-selling iOS or Android title to a dedicated handheld. I stupidly avoided Plants Vs. Zombies until it arrived for the DS, and am now unfashionably late to the party for the terrific To-Fu titles, handily collected here courtesy of the always dependable Rising Star Games, who are very much in my good books thanks to their help in bringing King of Fighters XIII and Akai Katana into my living room.
Covering two 100-stage long games, To-Fu Collection places you in stylus control of the titular To-Fu, a blob of the oddly popular bean-curd vegetarian staple, an anthropomorphic chap who surely must be some kind of a counterpoint piss take out of Super Meat Boy. Gameplay is simple, you touch him with the stylus and use it to stretch To-Fu before releasing it to ping him in whichever direction you are pulling. Each level, or Trial, has two main objectives: To reach the Fortune Kitty “goal” within the designated maximum number of moves, and to collect all of the “Chi” in each environment; blue orbs which are to To-Fu what power pellets are to Pac-Man.
When you “ping” the little fella, he will stick to any viable surface, however the game quickly introduces hazards and different wall types that react differently or lead to death should our soy protein chum come into contact with them. Indeed, both To-Fu games expertly introduce new game changing additions in a superb drip feed, keeping things fresh despite the relatively dull visuals and lack of overall flair. Once you learn the basics, you will begin to encounter bouncy walls, laser beams, switches, teleportation devices and all manner of puzzle game staples. The further you delve into each game, the more difficult it becomes to work out a safe path through each level, or to economise your movements to beat each area within the set limit. If you continually fail a particular stage, the game grants you the ability to wuss out and activate the “Golden To-Fu”, which will promptly complete the level for you in quick time.
The overall feel of the game recalls many other fine puzzlers of the past. There is a bit of Peggle in there, certainly, a bit of underrated DS classic Soul Bubbles too. Completing each stage as intended is a decent challenge, and a compulsive one, and there are some in-game achievements to unlock, as well as some different costumes for our hero in the case of the second game on the cartridge. The collection is made far more palatable by the inclusion of To-Fu himself, who has some amusing facial expressions and is highly likeable; unlike the food upon which he is based.
In their original iOS or Android form, the two games would set you back peanuts, as opposed to the £15 or so that this is likely to cost. In return for this you get an arguably more refined control method – one imagines that the stylus is far more accurate than using a finger – but that is pretty much the only benefit you will get from adopting the DS version. The graphics do not look as crisp and bright as other versions on the market, and the sound is tinny and inconsequential. Perhaps worst of all is the fact that most of the trials you face take up a large area that often needs to be explored by scrolling the screen using the stylus. Surely developer HotGen could have made use of the additional screen, rather than waste it by displaying the list of achievements?
VERDICT: It is hard to imagine why anyone would want to pay out for this version unless, like me, they are steadfastly avoiding adopting Apple or Android technology any time soon. That said, when looked at purely in the gameplay stakes, these are two very much above-average games, that are perfect fodder for any handheld device. It is just a shame that for the hike in price there is very little to make this an essential purchase, particularly for those who have other means of downloading it.