Tokobot Plus: Mysteries Of The Karakuri PS2 Review
The Tokobot series is truly an inoffensive one… since starting out on the PSP last year it was one of those games I knew nothing about going in but after playing I found I really loved it. Sadly it was also a game I could never talk with anyone else about without getting hit with the question “what the hell is a Tokobot?” Anyways, now Tokobot is off the PSP and is open to a whole new audience… that’s the good news. The bad news is that even though it has a new name it is essentially the same game – apart from one or two extra levels – as before so only newcomers to the series need really apply.
In Tokobot you play as a boy called Bolt moseying about an ‘ancient ruins’ type area. As Bolt you are able to order little robot characters called Tokobot to do you bidding – hence the game’s name. This technique is a very unique and successful way to play a platformer and for me was – and is – a nice break from the norm and one of the reasons why I rated the PSP version so highly last year. At the beginning of the game you start with 6 Tokobots and a limited list of abilities, but as you advance you gain more skills to make life easier and let you perform more tasks – it is much the same technique that Metroid games are famous for.
All the skills the Tokobot have are performed by ‘jointing’ them together and from there you can either attack enemies (by means of wielding the Tokobot like a giant club) build bridges (to walk across gaps), spin like a helicopter blade (also to hurt enemies) along with a collection of other skills focused on either attacking or adventuring. From there you can find extra Tokobot as you advance through the game adding more of the little guys to your small army resulting in you being more powerful and introducing those extra abilities I mentioned earlier. You can also gain Overdrives which are basically a fancy name for the Tokobot’s special moves. There are a wide selection of Overdrive moves to help out in many situations and result in the Tokobot turning into different kinds of cranes, a huge catapult and even a giant hammer.
Of course, as with the PSP release there are disappointing moments in the game. The biggest is that the game – at times – tries to be more than it is. There is no hiding the fact that Tokobot is at its best when it focuses on the puzzle elements but it does stray outside these boundaries a little too often for my liking. Instead of being a nice alternate task, the fighting feels nowhere near as satisfying as solving the selection of puzzles. Also Bolt and his robot friends move at a slower speed than most other protagonists do in platformers so this also hinders the fighting portion of the game making you wish even more they would stick to the one aspect the game does so well.
Graphically the game does not look too hot… serviceable may be the best word to describe it. Its PSP origins are evident at many times throughout the game with some pixelated characters and blocky environments being a bit of an eyesore. Sadly, even though it is in no way pushing the PS2 the game still manages to have a few nagging framerate problems. In terms of audio things are a bit better. The title menu theme song in particular is one of the best ever written for any game – I seriously want an mp3 of it! The rest of the music is also nice with a high tempo beat flowing in the background at all times. The rest of the audio lets the game down a bit; the voice acting seems like it was done by out of work anime talent as they under or over-sell every line. While the sound effects are okay but nothing special… actually the word serviceable again comes to mind when trying to think of a way to describe them.
On the PSP Tokobot had only a few games in the same genre to match up to but on the PS2 it faces some stiff competition. Nevertheless, for any big-time platforming fans Tokobot offers a nice challenge to get your mind working. It may not be up there with the likes of Mario, Ratchet and Clank or Jak and Daxter but it is a huge step above many of those kid-friendly platformers we’ve seen recently. Due to the title retailing for as little as £15 from some outlets I would definitely recommend picking it up… or at the very least keep an eye out for it down the line when you may find yourself in a game drought as we approach the summer. Remember though, if you were one of the few that bought the PSP version this is more-or-less a direct port so there is little need to delve into your pockets a second time.
Not without problems but an entertaining game at the asking price.
7.3 out of 10