Fast forward to today, and Two Tribes is poised to replicate the formula on the Wii U and PC with Toki Tori 2. A few things have changed, some has stayed the same, yet one major indisputable fact remains: it's still too damn cute.
Toki Tori 2 (PC, Wii U [reviewed])
Developer: Two Tribes
Publisher: Two Tribes
Released: April 4, 2013 (Wii U), PC (TBA)
Toki Tori 2 takes an open-world stance, for the most part giving you free roam of its universe and its intricacies within. Gameplay is facilitated through an incredibly simple two-button approach -- whistling (tweeting?) and stomping are your only options. There's no jump, duck, peck -- anything like that.
You'll use these two moves to combat hazards, traverse gaps, and solve puzzles -- the latter of which have more variety than it seems at first glance. Like a well-oiled Rube Goldberg machine, puzzles will have numerous moving parts to them, all of which have to sequentially align before you reach your next task. Often times, these tasks involve an incredibly cute creature or two, which really pop with Toki Tori 2's gorgeous 720p visuals.
Almost immediately you'll start earning songs (magic, essentially), which can be used for various functions like restarting from a checkpoint if you're stuck, and so on. These tunes are all picked up seamlessly in-game from a songbird NPC, which is a really neat touch. All of your songs appear on your GamePad for quick reference without having to pause the game.
Eventually you'll unlock a camera that can be used to document and keep track of the game's creatures and objects via your GamePad, which is great for drawing you into the world a bit more. But truly, the songs and the camera are superfluous compared to your two main moves.
I'm in love with the theme of the world, as the whimsical music -- which often times reminds me of Rayman Legends -- compliments the Toki Tori universe perfectly, and gives a sense of relaxation in between some of the more formidable puzzles.
I'm thankful in many ways that everything is so minimal, in terms of teaching the player how to actually play the game. In other words, you'll get almost zero explicit instructions like "PRESS A TO JUMP" popping up on screen constantly annoying the hell out of you. In fact, I was actually taken aback when the game started and some goofy sidekick wasn't squawking for five minutes on how to play the game. It's very much like Fez in that regard, but without some of the more cryptic puzzles that you'll have to seek a guide for.
Of course, that minimalism can get in the way at times, as the game doesn't really do a good job of conveying where you are in the world without exiting a waypoint to double check, and sometimes, it's hard to really care about pressing on.
This is mostly due to the fact that having to repeat lengthy puzzles just to backtrack to an area that may have a new gate is incredibly frustrating. It's why games like Symphony of the Night give you such extreme powers as flight or double-jumps -- so you can skip over the areas you've already done a million times over.
For that matter, games of the Metroid and Castlevania pedigree often will give you cues to at least clue you in on the next area or concept -- which Toki Tori 2 doesn't really do a good job of doing, leading to more aimless wandering.
If you're looking for extras, there isn't a whole lot here, but Toki Tori 2 does have the ability to play out entirely on the GamePad. Remote play is incredibly intuitive and simple -- just press the "-" button on the GamePad or the on-screen prompt, and you're good to go. The GamePad's graphical output feel a little washed out compared to the vibrant visuals on-screen, but it's not unplayable or anything.
Sadly, there's no option to select from a batch of save files outside of the one tied to your profile. So if you get stuck, you can't quit to a prior save and keep your old adventure -- you're literally just stuck there until you figure it out.
No level editor at launch is also a massive bummer for anyone who heard rumblings of its inclusion and was excited to try it out on the touchscreen. According to the developer, it is coming in a future update -- but right now, it's missing in action. When I said the game was minimalistic, I also mean that in the broadest sense, in that some of it feels unfinished at times.
Although charming and admirable, Toki Tori 2 at times is almost too minimal. Puzzles never really reach maddeningly difficult levels until more than halfway in, but often times it's hard to feel inspired to move to the next area -- or bother discovering it -- if there's no real incentive for doing so outside of general completion.
With a bit more pizazz Toki Tori 2 would have been one of the best games on the Wii U eShop, but as it stands, just know you should go in with an open mind.
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