Two Tribes Interview - Toki Tori
Posted by Darren Calvert
For many people Toki Tori represents the dark horse of the European WiiWare launch. Unless you were a keen Gameboy Color gamer there's a chance that you've never heard of this cute little character before, but he's been given a new lease of life on WiiWare in what is proving to be an extremely promising title.
Sensing that the world needed to know more about this appealling bird and the guys who created him, we spoke to Martijn Reuvers from the Dutch development studio Two Tribes in an exclusive interview:
WiiWare World: How did the character of Toki Tori come about?
Martijn Reuvers: It all started when Collin van Ginkel, cofounder and Creative Director at Two Tribes, came up with the idea in 1994. Back then the game was made for the MSX system and a few hundred copies were sold. I believe you can still find some of them on eBay.
In 1999 we decided to make the game for the GBC, which resulted in our first videogame deal with Capcom. Unfortunately the timing of the release was unfortunate: September 12th 2001, the day after 9/11 and the GBA was already out there. Despite the bad timing, the game received several awards and good reviews from the world press. So we always felt Toki Tori deserved another chance...
WW: Why wasn’t the excellent Toki Tori on the Game Boy Color ever followed up with a GBA sequel?
MR: Back then we were relatively small and decided to focus on a new project called Three Tribes first. We simply didn’t have the manpower to make a sequel for the GBA at the time.
WW: What makes WiiWare the perfect platform for Toki Tori?
MR: A year ago we decided to green-light a new version of Toki Tori internally. Initially we focused on getting a DS version of the game sold to a publisher. However after a few tries we noticed that a lot of publishers were reluctant to take-on original IP, I guess because the DS market is under a lot of pressure. Publishers are literally fighting for shelve-space with retailers, so in a way it makes sense to choose a Tony Hawk over a Toki Tori.
That’s when we found out about Nintendo’s WiiWare service. The fact that basically every developer can publish his own game on it really appealed to us. Nintendo doesn’t pose any restrictions on the content. You don’t have to get your game/concept approved by them first. As long as you believe in your own concept, and as long as the game doesn’t get an Adult Only rating, it is welcome on WiiWare. I guess this makes WiiWare a perfect platform for Toki Tori.
WW: Could you give us a quick summary of what the game entails and how it plays?
MR: In short: Toki Tori is his name and collecting eggs is his game! Toki Tori is a puzzle / platform game in which players get to use a variety of items such as the Telewarp, InstantRock™ and Slug Sucker. Clever use and combinations of these items is needed to solve all the game's levels, of which there are more than 70. These levels range from easy to brain-teasingly hard, resulting in dozens of hours of puzzle play-time.
Toki Tori makes the most out of what the Wii has to offer. It uses the Wii Remote for a unique control scheme, which offers players a new and more relaxing play style. A second player can help you out, by drawing hints while you are playing. The game even uses the Wii Message Board in a unique way!
WW: What improvements have you made over the original game?
MR: A lot! For starters we created the game from scratch, from that perspective it is a completely new game, new code, new graphics etc. We also redesigned and tweaked a lot of the original levels, but also added new levels to the game.
We incorporated a new playing style which uses the Wii Remote. You can simply point at the screen and a clever path finding routine will take Toki Tori where you want him to go. This allows for a more ‘relaxed’ way of playing as you don’t have to constantly control Toki Tori directly. However it is still possible to control Toki Tori directly by using the Nunchuck or Classic Controller.
WW: How can a second player interact with the game?
MR: The second player can draw hints on the screen. You can see examples of this in some of the screenshots we released earlier. When play-testing the game we noticed that a lot of players actually play the game with someone sitting next to them. When that other person wanted to explain something to the player, he actually had to stand up and walk to the screen in order to explain to the player what to do. That’s when we decided to add drawing functionality for the second player, saving him/her a round-trip to the TV.
WW: How many Wii points will Toki Tori cost?
MR: You will find out when it is released
WW: How will Toki Tori interact with the Wii messageboard?
MR: Toki Tori will send travel logs with a nice ‘Polaroid’ from within the game to the Wii messageboard. We feel this adds just a little extra touch to the game, keeping the player a bit more ‘attached’ to the game and its character.
WW: You have worked with big names such as Capcom, Sega, Hudson and Team17 in the past. Which of their franchises would you like to develop for WiiWare?
MR: Personally I’d like to vote for Capcom’s Resident Evil. High on my wish-list would be a horror/zombie type of game. Making a game that is truly scary, perhaps even so scary that people want to turn off their console... Now THAT would be a great challenge.
WW: As a WiiWare developer are you concerned that the Wii’s internal memory limits gamers from downloading lots of games?
MR: Only a little bit. It is still possible to simply delete your downloaded games or move them to an SD card, without deleting your progress. In case you deleted your game, you can always download it again without having to pay for it.
Should there be a need for more storage, I’m sure Nintendo will look for other solutions.
WW: Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
MR: Yeah, you should all buy the game