Sure, at first Toki Tori 2 may look like a no-brainer for Wii U owners, but don’t count your chickens before they hatch…
Platform: Wii U/Windows
Developer: Two Tribes B.V. Publisher: Two Tribes B.V.
Genre: Puzzle/Platformer Platform Played: Wii U
It’s been a long time coming but Toki Tori 2 has finally winged its way to the Wii U eShop. A whimsical, minimalistic platformer, the game is replete with adorable creatures, mind-boggling puzzles and vibrant cartoon-like visuals that will have you beaming from ear to ear. With the current selection of Wii U titles being decidedly thin on the ground this charming avian adventure is a wonderful and refreshing addition to the new system’s lineup; providing hours of head-scratching fun that will undoubtedly have early console adopters running around, solving quirky conundrums like a flock of headless chickens.
One of the first things you’ll likely notice upon playing the game is that there is very little introduction, exposition or instruction. In fact the only words of text in the entire game is the title that hovers overhead at the outset. All you know is that you are a cute little baby chick and that some kind of ominous oily smoke-like substance has started errupting out of the ground. Apparently it’s up to you to stop it, but puzzling out precisely how to do so is left entirely up to the player to discover.
This lack of hand holding results in a rewarding, liberating experience, allowing players to use their imaginations to decipher exactly how the world works and the means required to proceed through it. Unfortunately this much player freedom does come with rather a large catch – and that’s frequent doses of baffling, rage-inducing frustration, that at times will make you feel completely and utterly bird-brained. Who would have thought that such a delightful, deceptively childlike experience would have you blurting out some of the most offensive nonsensical profanity to ever pass your lips? This game really isn’t as innocent and straightforward as it outwardly appears to be…
Toki Tori 2′s gameplay is brilliantly simple. Other than waddling around the colourful environments and scampering up and down ladders with the left stick, your skill-set only consists of two moves - whistling and stomping. These twin mechanics are used to interact with all other wildlife encountered along your journey and by employing their help, combined with rather a large dose of cunning, you can adeptly wind your way through the game’s labyrinthine terrain.
By shaking a bug loose from a wall with your stomp, you can lure it towards a hungry frog that will gobble it up, consequently inflating like a balloon. Another bash will cause him to belch out a bubble, which you can hop into, allowing you to float to hard-to-reach areas. By tweeting you can attract fireflies towards you, whose glow can be shone upon ghostly floating masks found in the deepest, darkest caves. This sudden illumination causes them to crumple into a heap, allowing you to shake a tail feather and scurry past. On top of that, crabs can be bamboozled into making bridges, startled porcupines make for effective battering rams and beetles come in handy as convenient mobile speakers, amplifying your peeps, allowing them to travel further.
Speaking of your birdsong, there are two types of chirps your fluffy feathered fowl can emit – long ones and short ones. These can be arranged in different orders to create cheerful little melodies, which can be implemented to perform various actions. One tune points you in the direction of the closest golden colletables, while another transports you back to your last checkpoint if you’ve made a blunder. The most helpful of these allows you to fast travel, gazing down at the over-world from a birds-eye view… literally, but only if you’ve activated the mystical standing stones that punctuate the kaleidoscopic landscape below.
Although essentially an open world, your vast surroundings are broken up into lots of smaller stages to explore. These include lush green forests, dim atmospheric caverns, an enchanting stone city and and even a fiery volcano. The game’s glorious graphics are a visual feast, reminiscent of Rayman Origins or Donkey Kong Country Returns, and look spectacular both on a television as well as the Wii U gamepad. This Pixar-like aesthetic is accompanied by an ambient, relaxing musical score that compliments it elegantly and can prove quite soothing if a particularly difficult quandary has your feathers all ruffled.
Contrary to most “Metroidvania-like” games, you don’t acquire any new abilities during your travels, meaning that all the world’s riddles can technically be unravelled from the start. However due to the lack of information you’re provided with, its unlikely you’ll be able to comprehend the solutions to the more convoluted ones initially. Throughout your progression there are likely to be a series of eureka-like moments of clarity, where understanding will suddenly dawn on you, compelling you to backtrack and access routes that were previously beyond your grasp.
This ponderous acquisition of knowledge through trial and error is certainly not for everyone and perhaps neither is the saccharine, infantile art-style. I can certainly see a percentage of hardcore gamers being turned off immediately by the game’s cutesy visuals and gradual pacing. Another potential barrier to entry is the game’s schizophrenic difficulty, which boomerangs between being simply tricky to incomprehensibly difficult. Unless your child attends the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning or perhaps Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, it’s unlikely they’ll have the ability or attention span required to make it through from beginning to end. However if you do have a propensity for puzzles and you’re a fan of such mystifying titles as Braid or Limbo, then Two Tribe’s most recent feathery foray is definitely something to crow about.
Toki Tori 2 is a perfect fit for Nintendo’s new console and brings with it a palpable sense of nostalgia, as well as an underlying complexity that keeps its simplistic gameplay interesting throughout. While its adorable, childlike visuals may be off-putting to some, there’s no denying that the game looks gorgeous, adding to the exciting sense of exploration that permeates the experience. The lack of direction, although ultimately rewarding can cause much frustration and ramps up an already severe difficulty level. This combined with its slow pacing and open-world could potentially prove a troublesome issue for some gamers. However, if you think you’ve got what it takes to restore balance to this dazzling-yet-bewildering setting, I advise you to get your talons on a copy and give it a whirl.
+ Captivating vivid graphics
+ Simplistic-yet-perplexing gameplay
+ Non-linear exploration
+ Rewarding learning curve
- Often extremely difficult and frustrating
- Lack of direction can be confusing
- Extremely slow paced
Rob Gisbey is a content provider for Analog Addiction from Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. To listen to his acoustic demo check out his BandPage. To read his other articles and listen to the VxM Videogames Podcast head to MyIGN.