Review

Toki Tori 3D


Screenshot from Toki Tori 3D

Toki Tori's history is one that's flown from platform to platform, virtually landing on any modern system with a digital storefront. The original game, published by Capcom in 2001, made its debut on the floundering Game Boy Color where it was ultimately overshadowed by Nintendo's Game Boy Advance and its lineup of launch titles.

It wasn't until 2008 when the yellow chick re-hatched on the WiiWare service with modernized visuals, more control options and, perhaps most importantly, brand-new content in addition to the full lineup of stages from the original game -- completely re-imagined.

It's the WiiWare version of the game that all future ports based themselves upon -- from iOS to Steam, and from PlayStation 3 to Wii U. With so many iterations, Two Tribes has had plenty of time to refine Toki Tori, and so the definitive version is likely already out there on a platform that you already own; when you consider the original game has been available on the 3DS Virtual Console for the better part of two years, the relevance of this Nintendo 3DS port is questionable at best.

I was particularly dubious about how the game's visuals would hold up on the 3DS's low resolution screen, but I'm pleased to announce that Two Tribes and Engine Software have done an astounding job with Toki Tori 3D. The details in the backgrounds are as crisp as ever, while Toki Tori's character model and animations remain as charming as they were on more powerful hardware. It's really quite impressive what the developers have achieved given the limitations of the hardware, even if Toki Tori isn't the most technically taxing game in the world. The game also takes advantage of the 3DS's touch screen, with buttons allowing players to quickly select an item rather than having to manually scroll through each option using the shoulder buttons, as was the case in previous console and PC versions.

The audio has transitioned to Nintendo's handheld immaculately, too. The cheery tunes go one step beyond in bringing Toki Tori to life, and they sound as delightful as ever on 3DS. In fact, the soundtrack is almost too happy, and at times contradicts the brutal nature of its puzzles and gameplay found later on in the game.

If Toki Tori 3D is your first encounter with the series, don't be fooled by its bright outlook and colorful nature; this is not a cutesy platformer for the faint of heart. A puzzler at its core, you complete levels by collecting every egg within a stage -- and this is never as simple as it seems. The game requires you to think about each move you make, and will often see you starting from scratch to figure out a solution that doesn't leave you stranded halfway around a level. The rewind feature is a god-send here, and gives you some much-needed freedom to experiment with possible routes through a stage without punishing you for making a mistake. The "Wildcard" also allows you to skip a particularly mischievous level, but you get just one to use throughout the entire game's four worlds; however, you're free to return to said level, and the Wildcard will be returned to you upon eventual completion.

The four worlds are all varied, offering interesting backdrops and soundtracks to keep the game feeling fresh throughout. The gameplay itself doesn't evolve as you go through the four scenarios, but various items are offered throughout and require you to use your noggin to come up with increasingly complex solutions. The game does a fine job of explaining how each one is utilized, and usually offers a short stage in which its mechanics are demonstrated in a simple manner. Similar to the retro classic Lemmings, some levels limit (or completely restrict) the usage of certain items and can sometimes lead to frustration as seemingly simple solutions can't be executed while a particular item is unavailable.

With over 80 levels, divided into "Normal," "Hard," and "Bonus" categories, Toki Tori 3D offers enough content to satisfy gamers of any skill level. Casual players will have fun in the opening worlds, and perhaps revel in the challenge derived from keeping up with the difficulty curve; tougher players will surely meet their match in the later stages.

Our diminutive yellow hero's return to handheld hardware comes in the shape of a surprisingly amazing port to weaker hardware; yet it manages to cram in all the content and best features from previous versions. With the added convenience and portability afforded to the game thanks to Nintendo 3DS, I consider Toki Tori 3D to be the definitive version of a title that was already a must-own. If you don't already, now is surely the time to take the plunge.

8 / 10