Interview: Two Tribes - Toki Tori 2

No more flapping around

A little over a week ago Two Tribes released its first trailer for Toki Tori 2, showing off footage of the diminutive feathered hero solving puzzles and using various creatures in the environment to help him on his way. It showed off some nifty gameplay mechanics, while the developer revealed details via its blog of the Tokidex, which will use the GamePad as a virtual camera to snap pictures of creatures and items on the screen.

With the title confirmed for the Wii U eShop and set to arrive soon-'ish', we thought we'd catch up with Two Tribes to discuss not only Toki Tori 2, but to also touch on the developer's history with Nintendo systems, going right back to the original Toki Tori on Game Boy Color. We were joined by Collin van Ginkel, co-founder of Two Tribes, Mr Toki Tori, or @Collo as he is known within the Nintendo Life community.

Hi Collin, thanks for joining us here on Nintendo Life. We've recently seen the original Game Boy Color Toki Tori get re-released on the 3DS Virtual Console. How important was that game to Two Tribes when it was first developed and published?

It's the reason why we're here! When Toki Tori for some reason convinced the higher-ups at Capcom to take a chance on us, our world changed completely. We moved from attic to office and set up Two Tribes from the money that we earned. It was a dream come true, and it still is!

There was a fair delay before we saw Toki Tori again, on WiiWare first of all: had there been plans to bring the character back to Nintendo systems before 2008?

We had been toying with Toki Tori ports and sequels since we released the original. I remember the original pitch for Capcom mentioning a Toki Tori 2 and we tried convincing Nokia at one point to invest in a sequel for mobile phones.

When the now ubiquitous online stores started to become interesting for us in late 2007 we took a chance and pushed ahead with Toki Tori's return on WiiWare.

What made you choose WiiWare as the platform for this first comeback?

To be honest, it stated out as a title geared towards Xbox Live Arcade but ended up on WiiWare in the end. Having said that, we've always made games that fit Nintendo's target audience, so it was a great fit.

Since the Wii release, Toki Tori has appeared on smartphones, tablets and on PC. Despite this, you recently unveiled the trailer and made a formal announcement of Toki Tori 2 on Wii U and the Steam platform on PC. Firstly, can you introduce our readers to the game?

Toki Tori 2's main idea is that the game world and its inhabitants take centre stage. Every creature and object in it has a function and is there for a reason.

After so many versions of the game, we thought it was time to move on and make a proper sequel. We've thrown out the rulebook and started from scratch with Toki Tori 2. We analysed what made the original fun pretty thoroughly, but only the core concepts such as 'predictability of puzzles' and 'he's cute' were taken from that.

Toki Tori 2's main idea is that the game world and its inhabitants take centre stage. Every creature and object in it has a function and is there for a reason. Toki Tori will only have access to two moves during the entire game; the now slightly infamous whistle and stomp. With these moves he can influence the world around him and it's this world's inhabitants that offer up the tools for the solutions. Instead of the abstract tools and weapons we gave players in Toki Tori 1, we now give them Bubble Frogs and Berry Bugs to solve the puzzles.

You've been running a PC beta through the Steam platform, how has that helped to shape the direction of Toki Tori 2?

We actually don't call it a beta because we started doing it from day one. Our first build was simply a moving version of our concept art, followed by a series of updates that have shown our community what goes on behind the scenes when making a game.

Recently we've added the option for our players to record their sessions. They've sent them back to us and we've been able to watch over the virtual shoulders of hundreds of players. It's been very interesting to see all this feedback coming in, and it has definitely helped us understand the problem areas of the game better.

Anyone that has Steam can still join in, just send an email to tokitori2@twotribes.com!

There have been some new mechanics added in this trial, such as the stomp, but how does the use of creatures as tools change the focus of the gameplay?

The game world and its inhabitants take their place and the game is much better for it. It feels much more like you are exploring a game world, instead of simple going through the motions of solving puzzle after puzzle.

Moving onto Wii U specifically, can you share why you chose to release this on Nintendo's new system?

A new controller, more powerful hardware and a Nintendo that seems truly committed to their online strategy. What more could we wish for!

Are you able to tell us about the process of producing this title for Wii U, and expand on the GamePad features such as Tokidex?

Since we started developing Toki Tori 2 before the Wii U option was available, we've been spending most of our time getting the game running smoothly on it until now. It's been surprisingly easy and only the audio is still being worked on.

This means we've reached the point where we can start implementing the Wii U specific features, of which the Tokidex is the feature we've talked about in our recent blog post. Basically it allows you to use the GamePad as a viewfinder of a virtual camera, taking shots of the game's creatures. It's a bit like Pokémon Snap in that regard, but perhaps a bit more simplistic, since it's only a part of the whole package.

Aside from that, Toki Tori 2 can be played fully with the traditional controls available on the GamePad and will thus allow the entire game to be played on it without the need for a TV screen. Which we think is a pretty great feature of the Wii U.

Will Toki Tori 2 feature online interaction through Miiverse?

We're looking into that, but no promises!

We understand that the PC version will include a level editor and potentially a way to share these levels online, is that planned for the Wii U version?

We have the PC level editor running on the GamePad, and it's a great feeling to be able to touch the level and the creatures to move them around. But the truth is, if we want to have a great editor on Wii U, there is a lot of work left. Right now the editor requires people to take a course at Two Tribes HQ before they can operate it!

It would be interesting to hear from your readers how important they'd think a level editor is for them though.

Are we correct in assuming that this is a download title? If so, what are your impressions so far, if any, of the eShop setup on Wii U?

It will most definitely be a downloadable title. We haven't released a boxed game since 2008 and don't plan on doing that anytime soon. As for the shop, I commend Nintendo for moving forward with new features such as full downloads of retail titles, which bodes well for the future.

Do you plan to release the finalised product on day one, or do you have any plans for follow-up DLC?

We're working towards a single great experience when we launch the game. Launching DLC can be tricky, but Toki Tori's game world can easily accommodate it, so it's always an option.

As a developer, what are your current impressions and opinions of Wii U, overall?

We're having a lot of fun working with the machine, both from a technical as from a design point of view. It will be very interesting to see what all other developers are doing with the device.

We must ask, do you have any 3DS plans at the moment?
We're trying to get more of our games on 3DS, but it's not our main focus right now. We may have something to announce in the coming months, but no guarantees at this point!

We'd like to thank Collin for his time, and we'd love to hear what you think. What excites you about Toki Tori 2, what do you still want to know, and would you consider a level editor to be an important feature in the Wii U version? Let us know in the comments below, and we've included the announcement trailer below for your viewing pleasure.

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