Review by jhurvid
"Puzzle-platforming at its best!"
I see myself as having a love-hate relationship with the puzzle-platforming genre. While a few games have been amazingly good fun, like Donkey Kong '94 on the Gameboy, a few others (whose names I can't rightly recall) had a nasty habit of only being fun for the first short portion of the game before setting a massive difficulty spike that could stop anyone who was not adept at puzzle games from enjoying themselves. And that was enough to make me doubt whether I would get enjoyment out of Toki Tori. But thankfully that was not the case, and I can highly recommend this game to anyone who has even a remote interest in the concept.
The story is basic, but it works well as a theme for the game. Toki Tori is a chick who has to rescue eggs from captivity in four themed worlds; a forest with porcupines, a haunted castle with ghosts, a sewer full of slugs and an ocean full of puffer fish. As the game progresses through each world, Toki Tori sends postcards to the Wii Message Board with a picture of him in that world, which is a nice touch.
The game's structure consists of about 70 levels that get consistently harder over the course of the game. Each world consists of ten normal levels and seven-nine "Hard" levels that appear after the normal levels are cleared. The Hard levels are optional and don't require completion to move on to the next world. Toki Tori must collect the eggs in each level to move onto the next, or else a Wildcard can be used to skip the level. However, there is only one Wildcard and you need to complete the level you skipped in order to claim it back. As I suggested at the beginning of this review, the difficulty curve is steady and consistent, which means you should always be in a position to work out the solution to the next level, yet there's enough challenge to entertain the advanced puzzle player.
In each level, Toki Tori has the ability to walk left and right, climb up and down ladders, and use items. The items will be familiar to anyone who has played Lemmings; you have a limited number of different items in each level and you must use them properly in order to reach all the eggs. The items change with each world, but there are many standards, such as the ability to build bridges across gaps and to teleport through walls and floors. There is also an item that interacts with each type of enemy; the porcupines of the forest can be frozen to create platforms, the ghosts of the castle can fall through trap floors and the slugs of the sewer can be sucked up with a vacuum. The Ocean world introduces the "bubble suit" which allows you to float a certain distance, and can be refilled at certain spots in the level, which certainly adds variety to the game design.
There are three control schemes to use in Toki Tori; the Wii remote, the Wii remote + Nunchuck and the Classic Controller. The nunchuck and classic controller options are more-or-less the same; you control Toki Tori with the buttons and it feels comfortable. The Wii remote, on the other hand, relies on the pointer to move Toki Tori and motion gestures to switch the items. While some may get used to it, I didn't feel that it offered the speed or precision that was comfortable to use in the harder levels where it was necessary to take action quickly.
The graphics in Toki Tori are pre-rendered, but it looks great for a Wiiware title. Each area is filled with an array of colour, the eggs get different sprites to accompany the theme, and the animation is detailed and consistently smooth. The sewer slime at the bottom of the area sways up and down, almost creating the impression that it could rise up and swallow Toki Tori whole, although it never does. The music is also really good quality for a game like this; the background tunes for each area are catchy and enjoyable to listen to while planning your next move. The sound effects are also effective, and create the impression of a well-made game.
Now after all this praise, is there any room for improvement? I can think of only one thing that would make this game better, and that's a level editor. It's a pretty basic feature that most puzzle games have, even before online play, and with the Wii remote's ability to create levels more fluidly, I don't see why this couldn't have been put into Toki Tori. The ability to create and share levels online would have been very neat.
All in all, if you have any interest in puzzle-platforming, you can't do much better than Toki Tori. At 900 points and about 290 blocks to download, it's well worth the asking price.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 05/27/08
Game Release: Toki Tori (EU, 05/20/08)
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