Toki Tori is a series that has existed for many years which, despite owning Toki Tori 2+ on Steam, I’ve never actually played. Well, until the Switch port, that is. I jammed the first game for review, and found it to be a surprisingly wonderful puzzle game, so I couldn’t have been more excited for some more puzzle action with my little yellow friend.
I was not prepared for what I would discover.
Toki Tori 2+ is nothing like its predecessor. While Toki Tori is a puzzle game, where you get dropped into a level and need to collect all the eggs in that level, Toki Tori 2+ is much closer to a platformer, with cleverly designed puzzles making gameplay that much more challenging.
It takes a moment to adjust your thinking for Toki Tori 2+, because instead of levels being tight puzzles with clear boundaries and defined ways to win, the game has you travelling left to right like a platformer. Throughout levels you find exits, which pop you onto a world map and allow you to go down paths to different levels continuing your journey of exploration.
The other substantial change is with our young yellow friend’s abilities. Toki Tori now no longer has a selection of abilities at the start of a level with limited turns; now he’s only able to whistle and stomp and, though these abilities are limited, the ways he can use these are seemingly endless.
Whistling is by far the most interesting skill. Its most obvious use is distracting or attracting animals, of both the friendly and foe varieties. It’s at its most creative when you use tunes that you learn over the course of the game. For example, using two short whistles, followed by two long whistles, will zap Toki Tori back to the last checkpoint. This is invaluable, as it’s easy to find yourself in an unwinnable scenario, like being stuck down a hole. I could go into further detail, but it is fun discovering these during the game.
The puzzles themselves vary wildly, from the solution being cleverly hidden in front of you, to being tough as nails ordeals, which I may have had to look up online to beat. An early example (that doesn’t risk spoiling) is when you have to get up to a high ledge. This involves stomping a bug down to the ground, and a frog swallowing it. You then whistle for the frog to face in your direction, then stomp to make it burp. This puts you in a bubble which floats you up to your destination.
This is an example of one of the smaller, but interesting puzzles. They get significantly more intricate and difficult as the game progresses, but I’ll let you see those first hand.
Toki Tori 2+, like its predecessor, uses simple design elements to look gorgeous. Bright colours make everything stand out on the screen across gorgeous environments, from the lush forest through to the fiery volcano. Coupled with an upbeat soundtrack, the whole vibe is happy and sweet. This is in direct contrast to the feeling you will get when you hit some puzzles, especially ones that use things like birds to return you to a point. Getting slightly further along, before being plucked and dropped back into one spot, can border on Switch-smashing levels of frustration. At times like these, the cute aesthetic can feel more like it’s mocking you, which is a pro or a con depending on how much you like torture.
The other major issue is the surprisingly steep learning curve that the game doesn’t help you navigate all that well. I learned a lot of important things through luck, such as some of the whistle combinations, which became vital to success later on. Though there’s a lot to be said for learning how creatures\objects react through trial and error and interactions with the environment, which is certainly a wonderful element of the game, this was at times irritating, and may put off some players; it sucks to find out that the reason you spent 15 minutes going nowhere was because you didn’t realise that something would react a certain way to a stomp.
All that said, Toki Tori 2+ is a perfect example of taking a game, fundamentally changing its nature, yet keeping it related to its original. If you enjoyed the first Toki Tori, its sequel’s worth checking out. If you haven’t, grab both, because they’ll be wonderful additions to your Switch’s library.