Toki Tori 2+ is a puzzle platformer from mostly-Indie developer Two Tribes. A sequel to a remake of a Game Boy Color game from 2001, it’s available as a downloadable title for the Wii U console, and off Steam for PC and Mac systems (Linux specs are listed, but apparently not supported). You can also pick it up on your iPhone. It’s regular price on Steam is $14.99, and I would assume the Wii U version is comparable. I was able to pick it up as part of a recent Humble Bundle and paid… significantly less.
In the game, you play as a yellow flightless birdlike blob that tries to sing and stomp its way home before its whole world rips apart. At least, that’s what I think is happening. It’s hard to say, because there’s not really any explanation for what’s going on. Along the way lots of other cute little creatures help and hinder your progress. The only reason I started playing it was because I thought it was something cute and easy Charlotte and I could run through.
Well… it starts out that way, anyway. Turns out, the game is actually a giant “Shut The Fuck Up” letter addressed to my entire whiny generation of aging gamers.
You see… for years now… probably ever since the popularity of the First Person Shooter overtook the popularity of the platformer, guys like me have been whining about how they don’t (and won’t ever) make games like they used to.
“Games today hold your goddamn hand so long you don’t even have to play them anymore.”
“Everything’s all pewpewpew. I want a game like I had as a kid that I can play with my kids without my wife getting all Medusa-y”.
“Where’s the exploration. Fuck this Golden Road bullshit.”
“Ugh. More 3D shit. Where’s the 2D sidescrolling platformer these days? I sure miss it.”
“Tutorials? Back in my day, you read the manual on the shitter and had to wipe uphill both ways. And we liked it.”
“Where’s the level design? Look at Mario 3. That shit fuckin’ teaches you how to play without dialog boxes or whatever it is the kids are callin’ it these days.”
Now, all of these complaints are 100% valid. I’ve said them all, or some variation there-of, repeatedly over the last 10 or so years. And the fact that Toki Tori 2+ isn’t being played by every single gamer over 30 is proof positive that me, and most everyone with these complaints, is just full of shit.
In Toki Tori 2+, you’re literally dropped right into the game. You get a giant, cute menu that tells you that your two buttons have different functions, but outside of that, you’re left to your own devises to figure out how you’re going to walk your own sorry ass to the title screen.
After that, a few well designed introductory puzzles show you the ins and outs of your abilities, and what the game’s other creatures have to offer you. Before long, though, the difficulty ramps itself up and you’ll find yourself cursing out the little yellow blob-bird and his giant can’t-mind-their-own-business blue bird buddies that carry you off to their nest every time they see you, and never when you want them to.
That desire to snap your controller in half because you pressed one goddamn button the wrong way for a fraction of a second after spending what felt like an eternity setting up all the pieces of a puzzle… that feeling really is missing from most of the “Triple A” titles that are available out there. Hell, even the “good” Indies still only come close.
This game just absolutely nails it in the design department. Some puzzles are easy to figure out but hard to execute. Others are hard to figure out, but easily executed. Some require you to explore a large area before you even find all the pieces. Others have everything you need crammed into one spot, and good luck sorting them out from one another.
Then, somewhere around the middle of the game, just when you’ve got everything all figured out, it kicks you in the nuts… again, and ups the curve on you… again.
Of course, the downside to this kind of game is that, if you really want to get that old school feeling, you can’t allow yourself to Google your way out of it. Honestly, you’re only cheating yourself. Although, even Google won’t help you when your reaction time is the problem.
Obviously, if you’re not–and have never been–into cutesy platformers and/or puzzlers, than this game isn’t going to answer any of those complaints I listed earlier. However, if your glory days of gaming included the likes of Kickle Cubicle, Lolo or A Boy and his Blob as diamonds in the rough, I definitely recommend checking out Toki Tori 2+.