Twelve years is a long time to wait for a sequel, so fans of Toki Tori’s first outing on the Game Boy Color in 2001 have been hanging on for a while now. Enter Toki Tori 2, a revisit to the delightful world of young chick Toki Tori, a place that most of you won’t have even heard of before.
Toki Tori 2 follows the adventures of tiny yellow chick Toki Tori, who is on a wander through his cute little world on a mission to gather up collectables. And what else is Toki Tori doing on his little adventure? To be honest, I can’t tell you, as the game starts without so much as a single piece of dialogue or explanation. It’s just you, Toki Tori and the Wii U GamePad against the world.
The gameplay in Toki Tori 2 is deceptively simple. Within 60 seconds of starting the game, you will have used all of Toki Tori’s abilities: walking, stomping and whistling. The game is a sort of puzzle come platform hybrid, with a significant focus on the puzzle elements. So we have a game that looks cutesy and makes use of a grand total of three face buttons, so it’s a game for toddlers, right? Only if your toddler has the puzzle-solving skills of a chess mastermind.
Toki Tori is a masterclass in how to take the easy and make it hard. Yes, Toki Tori only has two abilities beyond walking, but you will need to work out when to use them, and in what order if your to avoid getting stuck. Stomping, one of Toki Tori’s two abilities, usually scares creatures of the world away from him and is used to destroy certain parts of the environment to aid progression. Whistling, on the other hand, draws the creatures nearer to Toki Tori. You see, it isn’t Toki Tori’s abilities you have to worry about, it’s about making best use of the other creatures that populate Two Tribes’ gorgeous world. The best example of this gameplay mechanic is the use of Toads, which you will need to feed before they burp out a bubble you can use to float to the next part of the level. You’ll need to attract a bug towards the Toad so he can eat it, all the while making sure it stays on a path that won’t lead it to get lost (which often involves stomping).
You can use the whistling ability to get Toki Tori to perform certain tasks, such as pointing out the level’s collectables or returning to the last check point, something I found myself doing rather frequently after executing a puzzle sequence in the wrong order. Getting a puzzle wrong in Toki Tori 2 is punishable by having to do the whole thing over, which can be a bit frustrating.
Most of us have become used to every game having a tutorial section, or at least something that tells us what’s going on or what we should be doing. Aside from the Toki Tori 2 logo that plops out of the sky on the first level, you won’t find a single piece of text or dialogue in this game. While this complete lack of hand-holding is a nice change, there were times when I was left completely baffled as to what I should be doing, such as the sequence between levels that shows progression via an attractive watercolour map. The complete lack of player feedback on later levels can leave you confused, since the puzzles get more and more complicated, so it’s difficult to know whether you are on the right track or completely wasting your time.
The game’s leisurely pace is well-suited to its delightfully-handled visuals. The world Toki Tori inhabits is beautifully rendered, with a cartoonish pop and fizz that reminds me of Rayman Origins (praise indeed), and the creatures of the world are animated with a care you’d expect to see in a big budget CG movie. The game’s charming visuals disguise what is otherwise, at least in the latter levels, a crushingly difficult puzzle game. You really wouldn’t have thought it just by looking, would you?
VERDICT: Toki Tori 2 is a surprising little puzzle game, deceptively simple when taken at face value and high on visual charm, though its charms begin to wane long before the end. The opening levels will lull you into a false sense of security before sending you into a fit of thought and confusion. Stick with it, though, and there is plenty here to please puzzle fans – just don’t expect an easy ride.
GOOD. A game that scores 7/10 is worthy of note, but unworthy of fanfare. It does many things well, but only a few of them incredibly well and, despite a handful of good qualities, fresh ideas and solid mechanics, it fails to overwhelm.