Review by Retro
"Don't you see by the # of reviews how overlooked this game is? Well, quit monkeying around and change that!"
It's just another sunny, peaceful day and you're lying down on the ground alongside your girlfriend, Miho (pronounced 'my ho' - kinky as it may be, that's her actual name), as a serene mountain overlooks you in the background. Out of the blue, a powerful sorcerer pops out of nowhere and zaps Toki, turning him into a monkey and taking his treasured girlfriend away from him. Now it's up to Toki to make the journey through a few dangerous worlds as he ultimately seeks a fight against the ruthless being that just stole his most prized possession. Toki's storyline may sound a lot like that of Super Mario Bros.
But Mario wasn't an ape.
To reach the main boss, Bashtar, Toki has no choice but to brave his way through six entertaining worlds. As he dances to the rhythms of the jungle, Toki will climb vines as scurrying crab creatures try to take him down; go for a swim (I never knew monkeys could hold their breath for so long underwater) in waters that are overpopulated with darting sharks and squids that guard entrances that you must pass through; hop carefully over hot molten lava pits that could spell death in one touch; freeze your hairy ass off on an icy mountain that's full of ugly, jumping green monkeys, and more!
Not only are there legions of enemies to get past, the end of each level also features a goofy or scary boss that isn't much of a fan of humans who have been turned into monkeys. You'll have to match wits with a hilarious red, slimy monster that spits out letters of the alphabet that spell BURP, an astronaut-looking nemesis that drops bouncing saws from his eye, an elephant that throws tusks at you that fly like a boomerang, etc.
Toki can hop on top of several opponents and kill them, but he doesn't know how to kick or punch. I'm pretty sure Toki could spit out hockers with the best of them when he was still a human, but while he's monkeying around in the body of a monkey, he'll have even better spitting techniques. He has an unlimited supply of basic spitballs that he can spit in eight directions. Even though they can take out many enemies in just one hit, the fact remains that they are pretty weak. For this reason, it would do you well to collect the small, square items that serve as updates in the art of spitting. Among these weapon powerups are spinning fireballs, streams of flames that could fry a thanksgiving turkey to a crisp in two seconds, spitballs that project in three directions, and several others.
Toki isn't exactly a nudist, so he gets tired of the idea of everybody seeing him naked from time to time. For this reason, he can't wait to strap on a pair of shoes and a football helmet when he sees them. But there's a catch, and a good one for once! Helmets make Toki invincible to any opponent, and the shoes give him an extra spring in his step. But watch out because, like the weapon powerups, these items are only good for a matter of seconds. Of course, there are also extra lives, clocks for putting more time on the screen (if time runs out, you lose a life), tasty fruits for energy, extra energy slots, and other valuables that can serve as a helping hand in your 2D platforming quest.
The graphics in Toki are colorful and, for the most part, well done and detailed. The enemies, bosses, and Toki himself have great animation for the time as well. However, a lot of things about the visuals, such as the water and the lava pits, seem lifeless with their total lack of animation. There are not a whole lot of sound effects to be heard, but what is here sounds real crisp and arcade-like. The music, on the other hand, is exceptional. The tune for the very first stage, the boss music, and the track for when you're riding a fast-moving cart as sultry fire traps and menacing enemies pass you by are the highlights. After a few listens, you'll never forget them. I'd say that Toki has some of my absolute favorite music when it comes to NES games.
Controlling Toki isn't the easiest job in the world, but it is manageable. You'll probably fall down and die a few tragic deaths in your attempts to jump from cart to cart in the last stage, and it's likely you'll try to let go of some of the swinging vines and fall short of the fragile platform you need to land on. Those are really the only places that pose problems, control wise. Swimming, climbing, spitting with precision, etc., are real simple.
Toki has always been one of my favorite NES games, period. It's very fun and no matter how many times I beat the game, I still like playing it more often than most other NES titles. The only drawbacks are that the game is way too short and far too easy. It ranks up there with the easiest platformers of all time, no doubt; only a couple of parts provide a reasonable challenge. However, if fun is what you're looking for and if you're a fan of 2D platformers, then Toki is a game that you can't afford to miss. Its addicting fun is what makes its shortness so obvious. As much as you'll enjoy playing it, you'll want to keep on going, but the journey will be over. Nevertheless, it should be a sin to miss out on this much fun!
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 04/22/01, Updated 07/31/04
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