An easy way to start this review would be to mention how much I hated the 2010 release Toki Tori. So I’ll do that. To share some context, I played it during that ridiculous Potato Sack phase, when the only goal (of life) was to obtain any number of potatoes in as short a time as possible, and Toki Tori was one of many independently developed obstacles between me and my desired potato collection. I didn’t like the puzzling elements, the cute-sy style absolutely did not appeal to me, and most importantly I just wasn’t in the mood to have fun. With this bitter state of mind I approached Toki Tori 2+ very tentatively – “maybe it won’t be so bad” I assured myself through the loading screen and first stages, “maybe it’s not so infuriatingly cute this time”. Then suddenly I realised – I was actually playing a really good game. And it was pretty damn cute.
Toki Tori 2+ (which, judging by the name is much better than a simple sequel) is much better than a simple sequel. Playing as the same namesake chicken is a very different experience in 2+ thanks not to any specific changes to the gameplay, but to the entire title. Beyond a similar art style and some similarities in how Toki Tori moves and falls, puzzle elements are (from memory) completely different from the predecessor and strangely immersive. It’s a very basic set-up for controls – press left or right to move left or right, press z to sing like a bird, and press x to Hulk-smash – which I love. Interaction with creatures is necessary to navigate puzzles, as opposed to fishing out a specific tool, and I feel it’s safe to say that this always requires both creativity and a lot of forethought. Or a ridiculous amount of luck. Even pulling up the map or hitting the restart button requires effort – these functions are enabled by singing a particular tune (short press on z = high note, long press on z = low note). At first it’s a bit exciting and confusing, but soon enough you’ll learn the “tap, tap, tap and hold, tap and hold” tune which essentially translates to “I fucked up.”
The lack of any dialogue is an admirable choice in that it forces players to work out some sort of tutorial for themselves based off what they see in the environment, making the entire game one seamless, enjoyable experience that is genuinely immersive. Yes, a puzzle game. That is immersive. There is the obvious issue with the lack of direction in that since nothing is explained, it can be very easy to misunderstand how creatures interact with each other and the environment, making some puzzles feel utterly impossible for far too long. For the most part, the puzzles of 2+ are satisfying to complete, even if they make you feel a little bit of an idiot for a large part of a while.
This is pretty standard for puzzle games (or should I say for good puzzle games) – to make sure everyone’s having some serious mind-grinding fun some stuff may get a bit heavy for some. What isn’t standard for puzzle games (and yes, that is the segue I’m using so what of it?) is how darn cute everything is. The art is designed brilliantly and suitably (I’ve been saying this a lot recently and I don’t like it – I’ll try to review an ugly game next), with very appealing animations for just about everything, which helps to make the frogs utilised throughout the game the most freakin’ adorable things on the planet. The music too is well-suited to each level and loops unnoticeably to avoid propagating any build-up of rage, while the very basic story is self-aware and not shoved into anyone’s face.
I really enjoyed the seven-or-so hours of Toki Tori 2+, but I know many people who wouldn’t. If you’re into the casual, puzzle, adventure-platformer sort of games, or you’re at least happy to give them a shot, this title will tick all your boxes, and well. Including that “being driven close to rage-quitting” one. That’s my favourite box.
Select Start Media was provided with a review copy of Toki Tori 2+ by Two Tribes.
Also, since the almighty Matt is a little pre-occupied at the moment, the header image here is a dismal mimicry of his usual format. Please excuse that.