Developer Interview: Two Tribes Clarifies Toki Tori 2+ Details and Confirms Classics Coming to Wii U
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
A great idea fully hatched?
Toki Tori 2 was always high on a number of Wii U eShop wishlists when it was announced prior to the Wii U's launch. Toki Tori was an early standout on WiiWare, yet developer Two Tribes didn't simply repeat the formula with the sequel, instead opting for a bold approach where puzzles were simply part of a larger world, and abilities were limited to whistles and stomping. Add to that beautiful visuals, and we considered it to be a strong title that, in our view, over-pushed the hands-off approach, though some will disagree.
Not a polarising title, as such, but one that challenged ideas of how a puzzle game can be structured, dividing opinion on its merits or otherwise. Despite our concerns with some aspects of the design, we still recommended Toki Tori 2 in our review, and it's earned some loyal fans. Two Tribes is a studio always keen to improve its games, however, and this week releases Toki Tori 2+, which brings the Wii U version more in line with that on PC; it'll be a free update for those that own the game, while purchases from 12th September will be of the + edition — there'll also be a 40% price reduction from 12th-19th September.
Keen to learn more, we've spoken to Two Tribes' Collin van Ginkel about the update, and also got some confirmation of more games coming to the Wii U eShop.
Nintendo Life: Firstly can you summarise the key improvements that you've made with Toki Tori 2+?
Collin van Ginkel: We've reduced the need for backtracking past puzzles you've already solved and we've made the worldmap easier to read and navigate. Those were the two main things that came up when we looked at the game's reviews and our Miiverse community, but we also went through every single level and tweaked and added puzzles where we thought it would improve the experience.
Aside from the gameplay improvements we've also upgraded the graphics with finer details, new backgrounds and more special colour effects. Oh I almost forgot... the disco now features dubstep and happy hardcore songs!
NL: Some may have mixed views on you making these adjustments, as some loved the hands-off style while others thought that goals were perhaps too vague; is that a concern?
CvG: They should not worry about that since we haven't changed the core experience. The changes we have made are to make it easier for players to achieve their goals, not by constantly telling them what to do but by better facilitating their plans. For instance, we now drop little feathers on the path you took through the world so it's easier to know where you've already been. This doesn't tell you where to go, but it does give you a better idea of what your options are.
NL: You mention Miiverse as a great source of feedback, so are these changes catered to the majority of that feedback?
CvG: It certainly is. We did a lot of testing during development, but nothing beats having thousands of players actually experience your game in the comfort of their own homes. The major issues that we discovered from the Miiverse feedback are now hopefully all smoothed out!
The changes we have made are to make it easier for players to achieve their goals, not by constantly telling them what to do but by better facilitating their plans.
NL: Will the update seamlessly transition into gamers' existing save data if their game is in progress?
CvG: For existing players, the game will drop Toki Tori back to the entry point of the area they were at. We had to do this, since so many of the levels had changed, there was no way of knowing if you'd end up in solid ground, for instance.
Fortunately it should only set players back a few minutes, tops.
NL: Can you tell us more about the in-level warp option to reduce backtracking, and why that was considered an important change?
CvG: When planning the game's layout we made sure there was no need for much backtracking. Everything you were supposed to do next would offer new puzzles and environments. However, this totally disregarded the open nature of the game, meaning many players were exploring previously played levels, and solving the same puzzles again, to find hidden paths that weren't necessarily there.
We've added mole hills that open up and provide a way to the other side after you've proven you can solve the puzzles in that area. This means even if players take a wrong path, they'll either end up solving new puzzles or they'll know very quickly that it's a dead end.
NL: What kind of tweaks and adjustments have you made to puzzles? Can you provide an example?
CvG: In Toki Tori 2 we work with what we call knowledge unlocks. Each puzzle should give players more knowledge about how the game works and they can use that knowledge to get further into the game. In some cases we noticed we did not unlock the knowledge clearly enough, for instance because people solved a puzzle by accident. We have added little puzzles that make it more likely that the player will have gained the appropriate knowledge.
Aside from that, we've added some alternative passages and expanded some areas with completely new puzzles too.
NL: Your update highlights additional story elements and landmarks, how important do you feel these are to the updated experience?
CvG: By adding things like the windmill park or the dragon skeletons, it's much easier for players to remember exactly where that difficult to reach collectible was. It's another thing that helps players navigate the world more easily, especially since most of the additions also show up on the world map.
Before and After - Graphical Changes
NL: Is this game's + version essentially the same as that on Steam, or have there been additional Wii U-specific tweaks?
CvG: It is important for us to keep offering the same experience to all our players, regardless of which platform they play Toki Tori 2+ on. The gameplay and content is 100% identical, but of course the Wii U-specific camera controls and usage of the GamePad are still unique to the Wii U version.
NL: How notable a role do you expect the + branding and price promotion to play in triggering additional sales?
CvG: We added the + to the name to make sure people did not disregard it as a minor update. It's definitely the biggest update we have ever done to any of our games. Having said that, we know from experience that people love discounts, so that's going to be the biggest factor in bringing in more players.
NL: There's obviously been no mention of the level editor yet, which was previously confirmed. Are you able to shed any light on that?
CvG: It's not part of the Toki Tori 2+ update. There are some editor-related things happening behind the scenes that we cannot talk about yet, which you will understand when we reveal it!
NL: Has the commercial performance of the game on Wii U met your expectations? Can you give an indication of how sales on the Wii U and Steam compare?
We're not happy yet, but we know Nintendo is working hard to improve the Wii U hardware sales and the eShop offers us many tools to improve performance, such as this weeks 40% off discount. With digital goods, it's all about creating sales spikes instead of only making money during launch.
Steam has done better, but that was to be expected giving the platform's maturity and installed user base.
Toki Tori 1, EDGE and RUSH are coming to Wii U soon. They are based on the PC versions and will allow for off-TV play and have touch controls where it makes sense.
NL: Is Toki Tori 2+ now in-line with the vision you always had for the game, or do you feel that a lot of these adjustments are a reaction to consumer demand and, potentially, a small step back from the original concept?
CvG: We had some core values when designing Toki Tori 2, which haven't changed during development of the initial release or this latest update. So in that sense the original release was in-line with the vision already, and we have just made sure it's more easily enjoyed now by our target audience.
NL: While we have you, can you tell us anything about the Two Tribes Classics range that you've teased for Wii U?
CvG: Yes! Toki Tori 1, EDGE and RUSH are coming to Wii U soon. They are based on the PC versions and will allow for off-TV play and have touch controls where it makes sense. We'll be offering them at a very attractive price point.
NL: Do you currently have any projects in the works for the 3DS, meanwhile?
CvG: We'll release one game before the end of the year, it will be a port and it's not Toki Tori 2+. More on this soon.
We'd like to thank Collin van Ginkel for his time. Toki Tori 2+ arrives in Europe and North America on Thursday 12th September; we'll bring you hands-on impressions of the release on launch day.