In 1994, the relatively unknown Dutch company, Fony, released a quirky little game called Eggbert for the MSX home computer. The system was never really all that popular outside Japan, but a few European countries (the Netherlands included) had quite a big fan base for the machine.
The game starred a little chicken called Eggbert, who had to travel through four different locations (forest, computer, sewer, and sea) and solve puzzles to get back his lost siblings (all still trapped inside their eggs). Sadly, this fine game was lost in the mists of time, and is even omitted from many MSX game lists dotted around the net.
Years later some ex-Fony employees started their own company: Two Tribes. And what better way to celebrate than to remake the only game their previous company released? The game, now renamed Toki Tori, was released that same year (2002 in Europe) on the Game Boy Color. It was mostly the same as Eggbert, but with completely new levels (although they were in the same general locations, aside from one - the "computer" world was replaced by a "castle" world). Thankfully, the new version enjoyed more success than its predecessor and gained positive reviews across the board. Japanese giant Capcom published it, which serves as a testament to its quality. Unfortunately the Game Boy Color was in the process of being superseded by the shiny new Game Boy Advance, so the timing was far from ideal.
But you can't keep a good chicken down, as the saying goes: Toki Tori is back again on WiiWare. The gameplay is unchanged - Toki Tori's mission is still to find all his missing siblings by solving puzzles. In this sense the game is a bit like a mix of the classics Lemmings and The Lost Vikings (Lode Runner is also comparable). Toki Tori can freely walk around each stage, but that won't be enough to get all eggs. To accomplish that, you have a number of tools at your disposal (the number of each is preset for every stage). Using these, you can do things like build a bridge, create a block, freeze an enemy, or even teleport. You can also pause the game and look around the whole stage in order to plan ahead; most levels have only one precise solution, which requires all items. If an enemy touches you, you fall into spikes/lava, or you become otherwise unable to reach the remaining eggs, you have to restart the level.
The game has the same four locations as in the GBC game (Forest Falls, Creepy Castle, Slimy Sewer and Bubble Barrage). This time, there are both new and old levels. The differences (aside from graphics) between each world aren't that big, though each world has its own "special" item, which you won't really use in any of the other worlds. Each world has 10 levels, after which you can do two things: move on to the next world, or stay and attempt the "hard" stages (7 in the first two worlds, 9 in the third, 6 in the last) . If you want to beat the game, you'll have to beat the hard stages eventually, but if you're not so confident you can do the rest of the normal stages first.
There are also a few "item" stages where, once you get a new item, you get to learn how to use it. Between each world, there is a "transition" stage, which features no puzzles, but consists only of Toki Tori moving from the previous world to the next. Altogether, there are over 70 stages. If a stage is too hard, you can use a "Wildcard" to skip it -- you only have one of these though, so if you encounter another stage you can't solve, you'll have to solve the previous one first to get your Wildcard back! If you're truly stuck, Two Tribes mentions that you can contact them to get a hint.
Graphics-wise the game is quite pleasing to the eye. All the characters are pre-rendered, which makes them look quite smooth, and all backgrounds appear to be hand-drawn. The main menu is a bit bare, but it does the job. After selecting a level you will briefly see a picture of Toki Tori hiding in that level's setting: for example, if you select a castle stage, you will see him peeking out on the castle walls. As you get further into the game, Toki Tori will send postcards to your Wii Message Board, containing some humorous artwork of him in one of the four worlds, along with a short story. Another nice touch is that in Bubble Barrage, the underwater world, Toki Tori wears a snorkel.
Two Tribes has opted to make use of the Wii remote's pointer in the control system which was a smart choice. The game only uses a few buttons. If you point at the screen and press A, Toki Tori moves to the location of the pointer. Pressing B makes him use an item, while left/right on the d-pad, or flicking the Wii remote left/right, cycles through items. You can also attach a nunchuk if you want to move around with an analogue stick instead, or you can use a Classic Controller. If you have a friend with you, he can grab a second Wii remote and draw hints, tips and tricks on the screen with the pointer.
Music-wise the game is really quite amazing. The GBC game had a few great tunes, but all of them have been replaced by new, even better ones. Pretty much all of them are very catchy, and will definitely linger in your head for a while after playing the game. Each plays for several minutes before looping, and while the same general "theme" plays in every stage in a world, there are three or four variations, meaning you won't often hear exactly the same theme.
We were a bit worried that Toki Tori on WiiWare was just to please the fans of the GBC game, but Two Tribes have really outdone themselves. If you've already played the original, then you will probably blaze through the game in no time, as it has a lot of the old levels. But hey, it's been a fair few years since the GBC original -- it might be nice to revisit the game and get some new levels as a bonus. If you haven't played the original, well, you're in for a treat! At full price the GBC game was already worth it, but this version only costs 900 Wii Points, which really is a steal.