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Reflecting On Toki Tori

27th May 2011; By KnucklesSonic8

Thinking about my time with Toki Tori this week was quite the memory trip. Early on when the WiiWare service was just getting started, this one-of-a-kind puzzle title sprouted up and turned out to be more memorable than I could have imagined. After getting addicted to popping bubbles, the idea of leading a chicken to its young brethren wasn't the most farfetched idea to me. Not one to write off cute-looking games, I gave it a shot and ended up coming away from it with a very positive attitude. And back then, it was quite a different situation than what you see today. 

You have to remember that Toki Tori was one of the first puzzle-platformers to appear on the service, so it didn't have to "force" players into the experience or be super-original because of what the competition was doing. Quite the opposite, the game was very easy to get into and it was an original experience because it wanted to be, not because it had to be. Plus, in my personal situation, I wasn't as eager to give games the benefit of the doubt over childish appearances. So to say Toki Tori made an impact on me would be a bit of an understatement. 

The fact is, I absolutely fell in love with the game, and till this day, it still serves as a shining example of creative and enjoyable puzzling at its finest. The idea of spending 1,000 Wii Points on a game was more foreign back then and resulted in much more hesitation than what may be experienced nowadays -- at least for me. 

What prompted me to think about Toki Tori in the first place was a friendly email I received from Two Tribes earlier on in the week, informing me they were looking for feedback on their game. Once again presented with the possibility of a sequel, this also got me thinking about whether or not such a solid game could actually be improved upon. 

If you look at the different power-ups the developers included, I didn't think any of them were underutilized or didn't add something to the experience. The brick walls were used in clever ways, many times being used to cover up gaps in between small-sized platforms. The Telewarp was also a fun power-up, limiting you in the destinations you could warp to so that you had to be in the right spot for it to work. I loved the way the Freeze-o-Matic was taken advantage of as well, requiring you to hit enemies at the right time so the resulting ice cubes could be used as platforms afterwards. Even the Slug Sucker served a purpose of adding a similar level of charm even in a dark world. My least favourite of them all was definitely the Bubble Suit. It was somewhat interesting in the way you had to use every move carefully to benefit from the endless air pockets, but the way the stages were designed in this level made it hard for me to enjoy this power-up.

Speaking of levels, what was also great about Toki Tori was the way each area added something new to the experience. And that's partly why even after all this time, I can still vividly remember how some of the layouts in Forest Falls and the solutions to these puzzle levels. The game's level of difficulty met with greater challenge in the Slimy Sewer world, and although there were times when I had to step away from the game out of frustration, it was very satisfying to clear these levels on my own in due time. These were the kinds of levels that ended up sticking with me all these years. Same goes for the hard stages and the great mental tests most of them provided.

The lowest point of the entire experience came towards the end, unfortunately. The entire Bubble Barrage world just wasn't for me. Much of the puzzles were frustrating to work out, and instead of giving you a feeling of satisfaction like the Slimy Sewer world, I just felt "Great, what will I have to put up with next?" Maybe I just wasn't smart enough to figure the levels out on my own, but I would rather do that than rely on a guide, so I just gave up in the end. Interestingly enough, I actually solved many of the hard stages just fine, so it was even more upsetting that I couldn't complete these normal stages. It just didn't end the game off on a positive note for me.

What would I like to see in a sequel? Considering that Toki Tori totally surprised me with its compelling gameplay, I don't think it would be appropriate for Two Tribes to do any drastic adjustments to the mechanics. As far as I'm concerned, the formula is near-perfect and I think if they messed with that, I might find myself disappointed. I'd honestly just be fine with more levels so long as they had the same level of subtle difficulty that existed in the first game but with more of a balance. So long as I don't have to put with another water-based world again! 

It would be great if there was an additional mode as well, but I'm not quite sure what. I loved the fact that there wasn't a timer in this game since it allowed me to take my time and figure things out at my own pace. I'm not sure a Time Attack option would be proper with the laidback feel of the game. But that's just me. I think what I'd love to see the most in a possible sequel is a stronger co-op option. Instead of having a second player pointing at the screen and drawing temporary markings, it would be great if Player 2 could actually control another chicken. In keeping with the nature of the clever solutions featured in the original, it would be great to see puzzles where teamwork was pivotal to success (like where one person has to act before the other person can grab the actual egg).

Toki Tori truly made my heart happy as a puzzle fan because of its deceptively-clever puzzle solutions. It really got me thinking about looking too critically at games that may appear "cutesy" but are actually stellar experiences. Not only was this one of my early WiiWare titles, but more than that, this was one of the few games that led me to realize that WiiWare had a lot of potential. And for that, I'm really grateful.

Two Tribes is looking for people to share their thoughts on their experience with the game via their website. There are six questions you can answer to help them as they consider the future of this IP and where they can take it next (to the 3DS I hope). I've already shared my thoughts with them, and you can do the same by clicking this link. Here's looking forward to "Toki Tori 2"!

Feature by KnucklesSonic8
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