Toki Tori originally graced the world with in 2011 when it was released on the Gameboy advance. Since then the game has been ported to nearly everything, from phones, handhelds, and home consoles including the PS3, meaning anyone that has wanted to check it out, is able to.
Yet despite appealing to me in many ways, and its sequel being in my Steam backlog, it is a treasure I hadn’t dabbled with yet, so its newest prettiest port on the Switch was finally my chance.
At its core, Toki Tori is a puzzle game that has you move a yellow bird around a side on puzzle collecting all the eggs scattered in each puzzle. This seems easy enough but the kicker is that Toki Tori can’t fly or jump, so the only way to climb is with steps, ladders, or some of the limited abilities he gets for each puzzle.
At first glance, the puzzles don’t seem difficult, but their difficulty can ramp up quickly. A seemingly simple straight platform with two gaps will either require using two of your precious bridges, or finding another, longer way around.
This is where the game is at its most clever. It consistently puts seemingly obvious solutions in front of you, which are completely wrong. When it’s at its most genius, you may not realise it’s wrong until you are deep in the puzzle, meaning you may have to go all the way back to the start of the puzzle to make sure you can get back to the end of the puzzle with a spare bridge.
Thankfully the game has a rewind feature so if Toki Tori gets trapped, or you make a bad decision, you can rewind back a few seconds to try something else. This also provides the joy of being able to rewind and watch yourself aimlessly walk back and forth multiple times, which is depressingly eye opening.
Not that I thought I was good at games in the first place, Toki Tori enjoyed letting me relive this fact.
Abilities vary significantly from level to level, from bridges, to a bubble that let you float for a limited number of moves, to rocks that fill gaps, or make ledges. Thanks to limited uses, the uses of these aren’t always apparent. A huge drop may require you sneak a different way, to place a bridge, for you to drop a block, letting you drop to the point you need.
The game does have enemies, but they are used sparingly, yet another puzzle element. One specific enemy type can be sucked up with a vacuum ability. In this instance, you can only suck up limited enemies, so regularly must use the vacuum to suck the slug towards you, but you stop before it gets caught so you don’t use up the ability.
The game doesn’t have a story, so in my mind Toki Tori is a young chicken who lost his eggs on the way to the movies but needs to grab them all before he gets home to his wife. What it does have, that I didn’t need to make up, is a beautiful aesthetic. The game has a wonderful Saturday morning cartoon simplicity, that makes it feel less brutal than it is.
If you don’t feel like the levels were challenging enough, every time you beat the 12 levels in a world, it unlocks harder levels that you can go back and complete. These were well above my skill level so after a few fails, I moved on to the new world.
A long as you can deal with the game constantly Road Runnering you, by putting up a seemingly simple path that has you run straight into a wall, Toki Tori is a puzzle game that is worth checking out. Its simple puzzle mechanics means it hasn’t aged poorly, helped by gorgeous visual overhaul.