Toki Tori 2+ PC Review
Back when the PS1 and N64 ruled the home console scene, the stores were full of beautiful, vibrant worlds and quirky little characters that have since gone off to die like an old withered cat. Spyro left Insomniac, Crash committed suicide, and we all turned to first-person shooters and JRPGs. But I can’t help but feel nostalgic on the odd occasion a great platformer comes along; I feel like a kid again and I remember why I fell in love with video games in the first place – not so I could shoot people in the face, but so I could find and collect all of the shiny things.
After evil liquid starts spewing from the centre of the land and causes all other chicks to flee like chickens, you find yourself alone in a beautiful world of luscious grass and flowers. What makes Toki Tori 2+ unique is how you cannot jump or climb any ledge higher than yourself. Instead, you must find a way to use your environment and the creatures living in it to create a bridge or set of steps that will safely take you where you need to be. The first character you come across is a lobster hiding within a conveniently-sized block. These lobsters can be manipulated into following or backing away from you, depending on your action. You can tweet to entice them over, or stomp to scare them away.
Puzzles are soon made more than simply pushing and pulling blocks with the introduction of frogs and little pink bugs. The frogs will hurl themselves off ledges, potentially ruining the puzzle if you do not act quickly. These lemming-like amphibians will run at and eat a bug when they see one. When this happens, the frog will become too fat to move and will stay put until you release a bubble from its mouth by pounding the floor nearby. The bubble can then be used to carry animals (yourself included) higher to previously unreachable areas.
Bugs come in a variety of forms but generally cling to walls and won’t fall off ledges unless you scare them with a stomp. Some bugs only sleep, and some project light in dark areas. Visibility plays a large part in completing puzzles. Being hidden in long grass or a dark cave will change the effect of all characters’ abilities – stomping and tweeting will no longer move creatures, but may still wake blood-thirsty bats, for example. These hidden spots are often useful, too, and provide a safe area for frogs to run without being picked up by hungry birds. But again, even the birds can be useful at times, as they take you to their nest, which could be on a ledge you have been trying to get to; or they can set you back to the beginning of the puzzle completely. The general rule is to lead creatures through the environment and into a specific place, then combine them into an action that can be used to reach a new area. The challenge is often figuring out how to get them to the ideal spot, and even finding that spot to begin with.
Hidden in five locations with only a small vision to help you are five golden frogs that must be brought together to repel evil, like broken pieces of the Triforce scattered throughout Hyrule. Each golden frog has its own unique ability that temporarily changes everything you think you know about puzzles in the world of Toki Tori 2+. One frog will walk on the cave ceiling like gravity has been reversed, while another is three times the usual size and eats everything. Each frog is so unique that they could each play a much larger part in the game, but having only a small section makes these final puzzles the true challenge of each area, which builds suspense and difficulty, making for a more satisfying victory.
Throughout your quest, you will learn songs that will grant new abilities. Simply tap the chirp button to sing a high note, or briefly hold for a lower note. Each song has its own purpose, being to retry from the last checkpoint, get a hint as to where missing shiny things are, or even fly to a previously-visited statue (scattered throughout) via an eagle of sorts. You can also sing a song that will take a snapshot for the TokiDex – an extra little challenge for all those perfectionists.
What I liked about Toki Tori 2+ is how there are many routes you can take. If you get stuck and convince yourself a puzzle is impossible, it doesn’t matter because there are always other places to explore, which will keep you busy until you pluck up the courage to return to the impossible puzzle. I felt like I was not only passing through one level after another, but slowly exploring the entire island, learning its pathways and clearing each forest, cave and mountain one by one. Some may find the amount of checkpoints excessive, but there is nothing more frustrating than completing a difficult section after many tries, just to fail right after and have to start over. Checkpoints can be updated whenever you like, too, meaning that you can figure out half of a puzzle, grab a checkpoint, and you will restart from there. The only downside to this is that if you decide you want to start again completely, you will need to leave the area and come back once again, but that is a small price to pay for such a useful feature.
You can’t help but feel brighter after playing Toki Tori 2+. Its cute character animations, summery music and painted environment shout nostalgia. Hazards and creatures are introduced throughout, making every new puzzle unique. There are so many well-thought-out, memorable puzzles, even though there are many paths to walk down that each bring a new challenge. The puzzles slowly become more difficult as you reach outer sections of the island, but having the option to head back down a previously-unexplored route makes for a more pleasant experience. The singing ability removes the need for another menu screen, allowing you to stay in the game and take pride in learning each song.
Toki Tori 2+ is what it is: a bright puzzle game with lots of pushing and pulling, manipulating and exploring. If you enjoy a good puzzle-platformer that looks beautiful, feels natural and consistently creates a challenge without the frustrations of getting stuck, then this one is a no-brainer. I absolutely loved Toki Tori 2+ – it’s one of the best puzzle games I have played in recent years, and certainly one of the cheeriest.