|Genre: Puzzle & Trivia|
|Min OS X: 10.4|
Requirements:Mac OS X: 10.5
Review:Lets get this straight. Two Tribes's Toki Tori is what you would get if you took any Disney branded platformer and combined it with vector calculus. On the surface, it looks like a cuddly, child friendly, platformer, and for a couple of levels, as you guide a yellow bird through a forest you will be tricked.
Then all of sudden – it happened on level three out of 80 for me – you will realize that you have absolutely no idea what to do, and half an hour has passed. Toki Tori is one of the most vicious puzzlers I have ever played. It is, as all good puzzlers should be, several hours of frustration punctuated by short bursts of sweet self congratulation. If that appeals to you, I very much recommend it.
The back story is simple. You play Toki Tori, a yellow chicken like bird, who has to negotiate four different worlds (forest, castle, sewer and underwater) collecting eggs. Why is never really explained, nor does it need to be. Like the rules of mathematics, Toki Tori just is, and you accept it, because who cares why you’re collecting eggs? Perhaps it’s Easter? It doesn’t matter. All that matters is how you get to them.
Answering that question is the core of the game. Toki has five tools at his disposal. He can build a bridge from a platform, drop a rock which expands into a brick, teleport, float in a bubble and finally, he can shoot things. Certain tools have world specific tweaks. The gun freezes monsters into blocks that rise up in the underwater world. In the sewer, it sucks up slugs like a vacuum cleaner. The game mechanic is based on using a combination of Toki’s various tools to get at all the eggs in a level.
And that’s not easy. Each level has only one or two ways to beat it, with players having to use the severely rationed tools at their disposal in a very specific order in very specific places to get at all of the eggs in the level. The puzzle is to work out that order – and sometimes also the timing.
A typical trick might be using a frozen monster to build a bridge, or building a bridge to use as a diving board to get somewhere otherwise inaccessible. For any given objective – getting to a particular egg for example, or across to a new platform, you might have two or three different tools that will achieve it – and so you have to work out which you will need later, and which you can spare.
Thankfully, if you mess up, you can rewind to a previous moment and correct your mistake – not that that makes it easier, since most of the time, you won’t even realize that you’ve messed up until you’re standing one block or bridge away from the last egg and it clicks that you didn’t need to use a particular bit of gear six eggs ago.
Thanks to that, on every level, you will spend an inordinate amount of doing the same thing over and over, getting more and more convinced that the level is broken. Eventually though – and it never takes so long as to be genuinely outrageous – you will discover that actually, the answer was right there in front of you – you just had to stand half a block further to right, or climb the ladder half way up, or something equally asinine. The glory of the realization then convinces you to play just one more level.
And there are 80 of them to get through, including the “hard” difficulty ones (for crazy people only, I decided) and the bonus levels. The developers have just about managed to keep it fresh by slowly introducing Toki’s hardware as you get further into the game, as well as by escalating the complexity of levels as you get further through each world.
One of the remarkable things about video gaming is that the best games are outrageously frustrating. No one remembers cruising through a game as a child –everyone remembers hours spent trying to beat one level of Contra. Toki Tori is a late addition to that great tradition. In an era of ever easier casual games, it should be a very welcome one.
Pros: Maddeningly difficult puzzles
Excellent level design
Cons: Maddeningly difficult puzzles
Trial and error can lead to repetitive gameplay