Toki Tori 2 has been a long time coming for Wii U and PC owners. The several delays have made for painful waiting. Fortunately, that wait will finally be over in just a few short weeks as the game releases this March.
To tide you over until then, I got my hands on a beta version of the game. In this first ‘Expansive Opportunities’ feature, I preview the game, assessing its expansive opportunities, as well as how it plays and whether I want to play it further on release.
Toki Tori is a game that built up its reputation by blending platforming and puzzle solving. All of this was brought together with simplistic controls and infectious charm, making it very difficult to forget. Now, more than a decade after the original release of Toki Tori, the developers of the game, Two Tribes, are about to give their dedicated fan base the long awaited sequel.
Controls and Navigation:
When I first heard about Toki Tori 2, I was concerned it would have overly complex controls, making things more frustrating than fun. I was pleasantly surprised. It is safe to say that, even in beta form, Two Tribes have totally nailed responsiveness and simplicity. I played a Steam build, and even from that it’s easy to see how the controls will be implemented on the Wii U version of Toki Tori 2.
Players are given three basic actions while learning the controls. They’re told how to move, stomp and whistle. Once taught, they’re left to their own devices and must use their own imagination to figure out what each action can be used for. For example, through whistling, players are able to navigate to the world map, command creatures in the universe to follow Toki Tori, and even make the beloved creature violently explode.
Levels within the game are navigated by using a world map. The map works similar to any found in the Super Mario games, allowing players to travel down certain pathways providing you have completed the predeeding area. It works a treat, but is brought up far too regularly and can sometimes break the games’ immersion.
At first, Toki Tori 2 will make you believe the gameplay consists of basic actions such as pushing crab boxes using your stomp function. After a ten minute education, however, you are thrown head first into a puzzle ridden world. Fortunately, the transition between complex and simple puzzles is handled well; there is never a moment when you think you’ve hit a sudden and unfair spike in difficulty.
After the basic mechanics have been mastered, players are introduced to game mechanics through the use of new creatures. They’ll encounter birds, bubble frogs and even berry Bugs. Combined, these mechanics form advanced puzzles that can take even the most competent puzzle solver a while to figure out. In one instance, players will need to escort a Berry Bug to a Bullfrog whilst being watched by a ravenous bird. If the player, or any other animal is spotted by a Bird, they will be flown straight to its nest. This either makes the player gain or lose progress, depending on the puzzle they are trying to solve.
Creatures within the levels can also be manipulated through different actions. If a Berry Bug is fed to a Bullfrog, this produces a bubble that will let Toki Tori gain height in the direction the Bullfrog was facing. This, combined with the Pied Piper ability to lead Bullfrogs via whistling, as well as pushing Berry Bugs via stomping, can get the player in some tricky situations where the suicide whistle is the only option. At one point, I was stuck repeatedly in the same area with no way of escape. The only option was to suicide so that I restarted at the nearest checkpoint.
Half an hour of playing the game this way, I worried that was all there was to it and no new mechanics were going to be introduced. I was wrong.
Just as the puzzles were starting to become repetitive, new creatures such as Lightbugs and Electric bugs make an appearence. Electric bugs will pose Toki Tori problems when he is trying to navigate through tight corridors. If touched, these nasty critters will reduce Toki Tori to a piece of fried chicken.
Later on in the demo, I discovered that light is a necessity that only the Lightbug can provide. When players are trapped in a cave, this light can then be used to lure a Bullfrog towards Toki Tori or even vanquish foes such as Voodoo masks. While these ideas aren’t new or out of the ordinary, the way in which they are introduced and affect previously met creatures allows them to fit perfectly into Toki Tori 2.
Overall, the gameplay mechanics are solid. At times, the puzzles can be a bit repetitive, but this is short-lived thanks to the game constantly introducing new creatures and new mechanics into the mix. Player choice also plays a huge part in the game. Multiple pathways are often presented to the player, and sometimes true explorers are rewarded through the means of collectibles. There’s also plenty of incentive for players to approach Toki Tori 2 this way. At the end of each level, a collectible deposit is displayed, allowing players to exchange their goodies for unique rewards.
Artstyle and Level Design
From the moment you boot the game up, the world of Toki Tori 2 enriches you with well polished and colourful graphics. While the design is simplistic, the backdrops and vibrant colour palette allow players to fully immerse themselves in this unique game world. Combined with ambient sounds, such as birds whistling, it truly makes Toki Tori 2 come to life.
However, this is sometimes ruined with not so subtle backdrop changes. At one point, I found myself falling into the cave and the backdrop suddenly changed via the use of a straight line. This happened multiple times and every time it did, it pulled me ever so slightly out of the experience, and distracted me. I’m hopeful this is just indicative of the beta experience, and will be ironed out in the finished release. For the most part, though, the transitions are very well handled and more often than not, work seamlessly.
The graphic style really comes into its own when players are taken to multiple locations around the game world. In Toki Tori 2, players will have wildly different experiences, ranging from deserts to undersea ruins. To help with that, in every new location, a unique backing tune specific to that area is played. This gives each area a sense of originality, therefore making each change of scenery a welcomed, refreshing change. Yet, some of these scene changes are so brief that, at times, you’ll wonder if there is any point in them being included. For instance, as soon as I reached the undersea area, I was shocked to find out that I had to leave after less than one minute of walking around. This may have just been a limitation within the Beta, but either way, such brief scenery changes should not be present within the game.
Within Toki Tori 2, there is definitely room for expansion. Being as the level transitions are handled using a world map, I believe that new areas, featuring new puzzles, creatures and mechanics could be added at any given time. From what I have seen in the beta, the development team are not lacking in ideas, and depending on the success of the game, a level pack or a area pack should be a natural consideration.
A level editor is also said to be shipping with the PC (and possibly Wii U) version, but I did not get the chance to try it out.
The way in which the game plays also leads me to believe that the controls could be easily implemented onto any controller. Hopefully, if the game gets popular enough, our yellow chicken friend might just make it to the 360 or PS3. Maybe even Vita or 3DS.
Toki Tori 2 is a delightful puzzle game that, despite its looks, can be quite complex. There are a few issues, but none of them are game breaking. Hopefully they’ll all be ironed out before the games’ release date in March.
Toki Tori 2 will certainly be on the must buy list of many Wii U gamers and from this hour long Beta, I can say it rightfully deserves to be. The Steam release certainly has my attention!