Toki Tori 2+
Developer: Two Tribes
Publisher: Two Tribes
Category: Puzzle, Platformer
Release Date: 02.28.2018
Toki Tori 2+ from Two Tribes is one of the latest additions to the growing library of puzzle platformers that have come over to the Nintendo Switch to find new life after the Wii U’s low install base failed to provide a large enough audience. While Toki Tori 2 was well received on Steam, the developers have assured us that this is the definitive version of the game, so let us explore the game and discuss what is always my favorite Nintendo Switch only feature, HD Rumble!
Let’s get this out of the way, now, though- I can’t really agree with calling Toki Tori 2+ the definitive version of the game since it doesn’t include the level editor option from the PC version of the game, but lets instead focus on what we do have, and that is an adorably frustrating puzzle game.
Toki Tori 2+ casts you in the role of an egg-shaped, flightless bird. Your objective is to traverse the level with not so much as a jump button. Toki Tori can walk, whistle, and stomp the ground. While stomping requires you to first jump in the air, it doesn’t act as a jump button since you cannot control the direction. You press B to stomp, the animation cycles through, and you stomp the ground. So, each of your two actions have an effective range, and these will be your tools in solving the puzzles laid out before you. Whistling tends to get the attention of the other animals on screen, providing that they are within your range (which is visible as a ripple that carries outward from you). Your stomp usually makes animals fall from the walls and/or ceilings, or simply makes them move away from you. Two very simple commands that can be combined in a seemingly endless amount of ways to trigger all the right moves to get you where you need to go. This may be the first time where I have felt that I was playing my way through a Rube Goldberg device, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that all. In addition to your standard whistle, you can hold the button down for various lengths of time to produce longer and shorter notes, and this allows you to sing specific melodies. These songs unlock as you go through the game, and each one provides special abilities that have been integrated into the game to work as pseudo- bug fixes and “easy mode”.
You see, Toki Tori 2+ is a beautiful, well designed puzzle game that wonderfully utilizes what seems to be a limited tool set. It is a testament of clever design that doesn’t rely on hand holding tutorials to explain the game to you (there aren’t any). Instead, they rely on you to get stuck on each puzzle, a lot, and you learn by experimenting. This leads to a lot of satisfying a ha moments, and makes up most of the fun. Unfortunately, this also leads to many moments of frustration when you just can’t quite figure it out. Thankfully, you are given the option to restart a level if you get stuck, but there is also a melody that helps you place a checkpoint where you think that you may need it. The biggest drawback with that idea, is that you might not necessarily recognize that you’re heading into a frustrating puzzle until it’s too late. Thankfully, most levels aren’t too long, but it still gets tedious to have to go through the same puzzles multiple times simply because you got stuck on a later puzzle after a point of no return.
Other little nitpicks about the game are that when you’re traveling between levels, you can’t see where you’re at most of the time, and when you first boot up the game, it skips the title screen and takes you right back to where you left off at. While the latter is a nice feature, considering it doesn’t kick you backwards in the level or make you restart, it is also a little jarring that you don’t even get the option to choose a new game or load a save file. You always have the option to reset all progress from the pause menu, but that seems an extreme way to start a new game. With the former, it doesn’t make sense why there isn’t some rudimentary path system, or an icon showing your little bird head traveling from one location to another.
While I believe that playing through the puzzles is a very enjoyable experience on its own, there are also collectibles to be found throughout the game to add that little extra bit of challenge and impetus for backtracking once you have moved on to the later levels.
Difficulty varies from puzzle to puzzle, but it does become increasingly more difficult as you progress through the game. It does so in a fair manner, however, so most of the frustration later on generally comes for the same reason as it does early on. That is to say, sometimes you just need to look at the problem from a different perspective, or maybe consider that you have forgotten to do something, or pushed that one animal a little far, and you need to just start the level over.
Toki Tori 2+ does integrate HD Rumble, but it doesn’t do so in an overly impressive manner. It feels like standard rumble in most instances, and the little tweaks that make it feel like anything else are subtle enough that I completely miss them most of the time because I’m more concerned about figuring out which is the best way to manipulate animals to my needs.
Toki Tori 2+ may not be the true definitive version of the game, but it is a satisfying experience that respects your intelligence from start to finish. It will make you upset and cause you to take breaks at times, but honestly what fun would a puzzle game be if it didn’t?
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