First Impressions: Toki Tori 2

The bird's still got it

Toki Tori 2 was one of the first eShop titles confirmed for Wii U, showing that developer Two Tribes is more than happy to take another early plunge on Nintendo's download platform. It seems only right, too, as the developer's first ever release was Toki Tori on Game Boy Color, before a new version of that game had a start on WiiWare. Whenever the cute little chicken starts a new adventure, he seems to flap his way onto a Nintendo system.

Although a formal launch date isn't yet confirmed a launch window release seems likely, especially as a demo of Toki Tori 2 was available at Nintendo of Europe's preview event last week. While an initial glance at the screen made us think that it looked like more of the same, once we picked up a GamePad we realised that Two Tribes had made notable changes, taking the familiar and placing it in an entirely new environment.

Unlike its predecessor on WiiWare — and a number of other platforms — the individual levels and puzzles are tackled in a new way in Toki Tori 2. Rather than navigate a stand-alone area using a set number of items, this time around the diminutive chicken is in a larger open world, with the only items taking the form of other creatures in the environment. You have the option to stomp, which prompts animals to run away or follow a certain action, or you can whistle to attract creatures towards you. Dealing with moving animals, each with their own set of behaviours, gives the levels a new dynamism, often forcing you to act quickly and decisively.

In the demo level we played, we were in a lush environment with some attractive Mediterranean-style buildings in the background. In the space of around 10 minutes we'd covered a lot of ground in one flowing level, with transitions between large areas; you're often picked up and carried by a bird, a sequence shown off in the game trailers.

The puzzles, meanwhile, were varied and rather challenging. The task is given a new dimension by the fact that the creatures aren't merely objects to be used, but have to be prompted and encouraged in particular ways. One example is the frogs that blow bubbles to transport you upwards, but they must have a berry to eat to produce the bubble. Another example was an area where the bird couldn't see us due to tall grass, so we had to encourage a giant lobster to follow us and crush the grass with a block of wood on its back — these creatures are also movable platforms in other areas. Based on what we played Two Tribes hasn't been afraid to provide challenging brain teasers, requiring you to not only figure out what to do but also, on occasions, follow very precise timing to get the most out of the various creatures.

Also on show, which was pleasing to see, was the level creator that'll be included with the title. In the sample that we tried the level actually resembled the design seen in the Game Boy Color or WiiWare title, with the action restricted to one specific area rather than the over-world of the main game. That makes perfect sense in terms of making it accessible, and the level editor is intuitive and full of promise; it's simply a case of using the GamePad touch screen to select and place items and specific environments, with the final result on show on the TV screen. A lot of the creatures and items from the game were available to pick, and given time and concentration it seemed like a natural, simple way to create a basic level.

If the level creator has sharing options via Nintendo Network, then it could undoubtedly be a hit amongst wannabe puzzle-game designers out there. The actual controls may be simple, but producing a workable and enjoyable stage will take patience and skill; as we've seen in games on other platforms that allow level creation, there'd undoubtedly be a lot of enjoyable entries from gamers if the ability to share is provided.

Overall, Toki Tori 2 looks like a promising early entry onto the Wii U eShop, though no date is confirmed. It's not merely an extension of what has come before, but what we've seen is a genuine evolution towards new ideas, with the larger areas and creatures-as-items set to bring some tough, challenging puzzles.

If you'd like to read more about this title, check out our interview with Two Tribes from August.