Originally released on the Gameboy Color back in 2001, Toki Tori has always offered a light-hearted approach to the puzzle-platforming genre. It maybe didn’t break any ground, but its casual demeanor definitely won hearts. In fact, it’s become such a favorite that developer Two Tribes has released an HD remake of the charming, yet challenging game.
Toki Tori doesn’t have a complicated backstory or complex narrative. You’re a chick named Toki Tori out on a quest to recover your unhatched nestmates. Of course that’s not as simple as it sounds, and complications abound. Toki Tori doesn’t offer a jump button so you’ll need to strategize just how to get through each level while collecting each of the eggs. You’ll come across tools like the Freeze-o-matic, Telewarp, Bridge Builder or Bubble Suit, each with their own unique abilities. Sometimes you’ll need to place a bridge to get past a pit, other times you’ll need to teleport short distances when you’ve reached a dead end. Though many levels appear straightforward, it’s crucial to experiment with these tools and explore unconventional approaches.
To further encourage that trial and error, Toki Tori also utilizes a rewind feature. It doesn’t necessarily make the game easier per se, but it keeps the experience from becoming ruthless. If you ever run into a jam, you can simply rewind a short period and reassess your mistakes or start a level over if need be. Learning the hard way is more rewarding, but this feature does speed up the otherwise slow pace and prevent the game from ever growing too frustrating.
Toki Tori has multiple difficulty levels, as you’d expect from a game like this. In a nice touch the easy mode features entirely original levels. The developers could have just used watered-down versions of normal levels without anybody crying foul, but instead they went above and beyond to create a new suite of puzzles. You can skip the easy levels, though, and after beating the normal levels you can unlock a harder difficulty level and challenging bonus levels. Whether you’re new to the series or a seasoned fan, there will be levels that threaten to stump you at first.
The levels themselves are still perplexing little puzzles, but they look better than ever thanks to the enhanced HD graphics. Each colorful world has a distinct look and feel, offering a refreshing change of pace that nicely complements the game’s friendly, low key demeanor. And even if the cartoony, primary-colored graphics aren’t a hook, at least the puzzles will be.
High definition isn’t the only newfangled TV gimmick embraced by Toki Tori. It’s also 3D compatible. It’s by no means a must-see, but it’s an intriguing option if you own a 3D TV and pine for more depth while leisurely exploring each level. It’s not something that’s often incorporated into games anymore and it feels a little strange having a game like this offering it, but the 3D is surprisingly well implemented. The PlayStation Move support, on the other hand, seems silly for a game like Toki Tori. Navigating levels is already as basic as it could be, so pointing and clicking your destination with the Move controller feels more like a slow and unnecessary add-on than a useful new approach.
Your response to Toki Tori will come down to how you feel about puzzles. I love a good puzzle game and Toki Tori happens to be one of them. The various tools keep things interesting and add a great deal of freedom to your strategy, while the graphical boost is a nice touch to an otherwise bland and unassuming game. The pace is still a bit on the slow side, and the gameplay has been fine-tuned to be more forgiving, but that doesn’t stop this puzzle-platformer from being a challenging and entertaining revamp of the original.
Erika Szabo is a Toronto-based freelance gaming blogger and vlogger. You can check out her Youtube Channel for current-gen/retro games and anime goodness and her Twitter account @erikaszabo for everything in between.