Developed by Dutch studio Two Tribes, Toki Tori is a puzzle/platforming title originally released in 2001 for GameBoy Colour.
Some 10 years after its release – and just a handful of remakes and various re-releaes – this charmingly cute game has been given new life, in all its original glory, on the Nintendo 3DS eShop Virtual Console.
While we wait for Two Tribes new game, Toki Tori 2 that’s out next month for Nintendo Wii U, we revisit this classic handheld game to see if it still holds up today as good as it did in 2001.
One of the aspects of the Nintendo 3DS eShop that really grabs me is the immediate access to a number of fantastic GameBoy era titles, especially if I never experienced them in their original form growing up.
Toki Tori is a prime example of this, a game that presents itself as a well-designed platformer – which I love – while packing in some expertly made puzzles. What makes the game more endearing, even playing it now in 2012 is its charming, yet basic, premise which to provide the game context.
The hero of the game is a small, yellow chick named Toki Tori, who has had all of his unhatched brothers and sisters kidnapped. Watching as they’re taken off to a mysterious castle, the little chick decides to set off on an adventure that will take him through a forest, the aforementioned castle and beyond!
The game is comprised of 4 different worlds, each with a nice number of levels, where you need to locate a certain number of eggs while avoiding enemies and solving puzzles.
Each world has its own unique visual flare, while still keeping with the same basic architecture and look. Though you won’t really pay the design of each stage much mind, since Toki Tori‘s gameplay will keep you plenty busy.
As you’d expect Toki Tori starts off relatively simple. You’re given only the ability to jump and not much else, though over time you’ll amass a wide range of tools to aid you.
Each are unique and really help to further the gameplay mechanics, adding a new layer of depth each time. The first tool you’ll be given will allow you to instantly build a two-step bridge. Straight away this presents new possibilities and solutions to problems that arise in the design of particular stages. You’ll gain access to new tools at a steady pace, mostly when you reach a new world, which certainly keeps you on your toes.
Though what I ultimately liked about using a variety of tools to overcome the puzzles and challenges of each stage was how they were used sparingly, meaning you couldn’t just use them as you went. Each stage allowed you to use particular tools, most of the time with a limited number of uses for each. In my eyes, this is smart game design since it immediately begs the player to really think and plan ahead their strategy.
What’s more is you can restart a level as many times as you like, as well as die from enemy encounters as often as you will through trail and error. While the games difficulty does spike from time to time, which can be overly annoying since it might take you a solid amount of time to clear whereas others take you minutes, it’s refreshing to know you’re not simply punished for not being able to figure stuff out.
Toki Tori is of course a GameBoy Colour game, and so its visuals aren’t say on-par with what gamers expect today. Though I’m sure they’d know that going in, Virtual Console title and all. Though despite its age Toki Tori still impressed me with some, what I believed to be, 3D animation with Toki Tori’s sprite.
Additionally, the level of detail gone it to the sprite itself was actually a breathtaking moment. Tok Tori would plop along, happy as a clam, for most of the game. Though given context with a weapon or having wait too long to move, he’s expressions and animations would change – for example holding the rocket launcher inspired Freeze-o-matic sees him sport a little angry face.
For anyone who hasn’t experienced Toki Tori I recommend you get it today off the 3DS eShop, though the game is available elsewhere including the Wii Shop Channel as a remake. The platforming/puzzle gameplay is exceptionally strong, with strong GameBoy Colour era visuals and a catchy 8-bit soundtrack that really makes me miss the 8-bit/16-bit days of gaming.
All tolled, Toki Tori is an overly simple game that offers a totally refined and rewarding gameplay experience, even in today’s high-end, 3D entrenched world of realistic video games.