Toki Tori Review
I don’t remember many games from my youth. It wasn’t until around when I was 15 that I played my first retro game “Castlevania” that could be considered nostalgia, but as games that are nostalgic to me personally, they are very few in numbers. In fact, I only remember two such games, Wario Land 3 and Toki Tori. Toki Tori was in fact the first ever game I played, and to this day I haven’t beaten it yet.
Since its re-release on the 3DS as a virtual console game, all these memories came flooding back and I had to play it again. It would be my personal honour to review this game, of which I have not played in 12 years. I remember it being something elegant, something tricky and clever, something magical and wondrous, and most importantly, something memorial.
Okay, so the game starts off with an egg farm. All these eggs are magically whisked away into a castle mysteriously except for one, which hatches into our hero: Toki Tori. Already at such a young age does this little chick have thoughts of its own and wants to go on life threatening adventures to save his unborn brothers and sisters, and wants to unravel this mystery of the egg disappearance. A couple of seconds old and already he seems so grown up. Yeah, the story sin’t the best, but for a seven year old mind, it seemed pretty awesome at the time.
So there are four worlds, consisting of a forest, a haunted castle, a slimy underground cavern and finally a flooded cave. These worlds are fairly creative in sense of design and graphics. Each world has around ten levels for you to pit your wits against, and after you complete those levels, you are given a choice: To carry onto the next world, or to stay and complete six super hard levels for extra eggs. These levels really are super hard. I could just barely complete them on my own when I first played it. In fact looking back I’m surprised I actually cleared them on my own.
The puzzles involved are genially fun and challenging. Some (more than I like to admit) are even devilish. It works on the basis of blocking movement. You can only jump a single square height and move in square blocks. This means you can’t jump over two block wide gaps or jump over enemies. You’re only so young; you’re not quite Mario or Sonic just yet. However, you do get these special powers to use to overcome obstacles in your way.
These powers add complexity to the game. These add possibilities that cause you to think and re-think how you go about in a level to collect every egg possible. You always have the eagle eyes power, which enables you to have a look around the entire level to plan out your manoeuvre (annoyingly the time limit still counts down when using this, and more often than not I have had to repeat the level several times in order to have enough time to work out the correct path for the level), but you get other powers to use that makes bridges, teleports you places, moves metal blocks and even freeze enemies in their spot. These powers are really creative, but they are very often limited to be used a set amount of times.
This plays out really well in terms of playing the game. Although some levels can get ever so slightly farfetched at times, the logic required to complete them is always in a sensible threshold. However, I struggled a lot when I played this game the first time. Back then, I was so stuck on a Creepy Castle level that I deemed it impossible. I had to write (not e-mail, but write an actual letter) with my big blocky hand writing to the company to ask how I could complete it. A couple of weeks later I got a letter saying that I could use the Internet to find a solution. Back then I had no idea what the Internet was, and what’s more so that back then there was not a complete solution for it. I used the walk through there on until I reached the end of it, and I just couldn’t solve the level. I gave up and never touched the game again, until now. I would say that as puzzle games go, this one was really harsh for its time, but also very challenging and rewarding. Now I can see how balanced the puzzles are and it still
gives me joy collecting the last egg on that tricky level.
The graphics are pretty nice. For a game boy colour game, everything had its charm in every possible manner. They were fairly detailed and some attention to detail clearly went on in the background. In the Slime Caves, when you descended lower down in a level, the screen would get slightly darker to symbolise what going deeper in a cave was like, which is pretty neat. The animations weren’t the smoothest but they still did a good job regardless. You can even tap left and right in rapid succession to make Toki Tori spin around and get dizzy. I used to do that all the time when I was completely stuck, and it adds even more charm and character to the game.
The music is also pretty good. It might be limited somewhat, but it defiantly made it count in some spots. Others could argue that some of the music can get annoying if you listen to it too much, and I can see from their point of view why, it’s very important in a puzzle game to have music that doesn’t annoy or distract the player, because most likely they will have to listen to it over and over. I think they did the job perfectly. The level select music and forest music can be a little annoying at times, but the rest is just superb and amazing. I always go on and on about this but I believe it’s an important factor in gaming. The music adds a certain depth and mystery to the whole ordeal. No back story was included to say why the castle was haunted, but the music sort of explains it while keeping 90% of it hidden for the players to make up and believe for themselves. Any game that makes me think this about an environment gets a very nice seat in my house.
Overall, I give this game a 9.3/10 As puzzle games go, this is pretty terrific. The music suits every place to a tee, the controls are rock solid and very reliable, the game play and aspects are really creative and fun, and everything else just rolls together nicely to make a very enjoyable (albeit devilish) game. I highly recommend this to any puzzle fanatic. I might not have beaten it yet, but once day I will and see that long awaited ending that has secretly plagued me for 12 years.