Originally released on Wii U back in 2013, Toki Tori 2+ is a game that has seen continuous tweaks and improvements with almost every edition released. Despite the fact that the latest version on Switch hasn’t been called ‘Toki Tori 2+ Definitive Edition Deluxe Turbo-Supercharged XL & Knuckles’, the five-year gap between this release and the Wii U version has given developer Two Tribes a chance to improve the game slightly further, and there are a couple of notable changes that do just that.
For those who haven’t played it before, Toki Tori 2+ is a puzzle game that revolves around a very straightforward two-button mechanic; your ‘A’ button acts as a whistle, which can either be used as one short blast or to play various melodies, and your ‘B’ button performs a stomp. The controls are always incredibly simple as a result, but it doesn’t take long for the game to reach quite high levels of complexity.
Puzzles are usually solved by interacting with creatures on screen; some of these creatures are friendly beings that can be used to help you progress, and others are enemies that you’ll need to either avoid or skilfully outmanoeuvre. As an example, a common combination sees you stomping the ground to knock down a berrybug, allowing it to fall next to a frog that will gobble it up. From there, you’ll use your whistle to get the frog’s attention, and perform another stomp to make it burp a large bubble which will carry you into the air and above any large obstacles. Your little chick can’t do anything movement-wise other than a slow waddle, so the creatures are the key to getting around.
As we mentioned earlier, this all starts off easy enough, and you’ll be gaining confidence with each puzzle you solve, but things soon get much more tricky. Some puzzles will require you to keep on top of multiple creatures, making sure that they all go where you need them to at the exact right moment as you desperately run around like a flustered mother hen. If you fail, you’ll likely have to reset the puzzle, and possibly witness grizzly, deeply distressing, Pikmin-style deaths that make your chest literally ache with sadness. It gets tough, but the fact that each and every puzzle can be solved with those two actions is really impressive.
It’s an attractive world to explore, too. The various settings, spread across forests, a waterfall, grasslands, and a volcano, all look beautiful in both TV and handheld modes, running at 60fps in full resolutions. The visual style, when mixed with some cute musical elements and the adorable whistles shared between your chick and the copybug creatures, will make you want to explore the entire map, even if doing so can be frustratingly difficult at times.
You see, perhaps the game’s only major flaw, and one that we picked up on when playing the Wii U version several years ago, is that getting stuck can be a pretty disastrous issue. Toki Tori isn’t afraid to let you figure things out on your own; in fact, for quite a while we had no idea why we were collecting little gold wings and what the purpose of activating the numerous, sporadic glowing stones actually was. If you can’t figure out how to complete a puzzle, you’ll be stuck there until you either work it out by trial and error, or give in and look for help online.
Things do unravel eventually, and as you start to learn songs (small whistle combinations that trigger special abilities), the game does become a little easier to navigate, but there are still times when you’ll find yourself at a loss as to what is supposed to happen next.
This is where Two Tribes has stepped in over the last few years, however, responding to player and critic feedback wonderfully. When the game was enhanced to its ‘+’ edition on Wii U, a few months after we played it for review, many of the issues we faced had been re-thought, offering ways around the more tedious aspects of the game. This Switch release has brought with it even more changes, once again providing ways to avoid the more frustrating parts of the experience.
This time around, a new checkpoint melody has been introduced, allowing players to summon a checkpoint wherever they wish. While this doesn’t make the puzzles any easier to solve, and you could still find yourself stuck for long periods of time, it does mean that you can set up a checkpoint right before attempting something full of temperamental creatures, allowing you to reset quickly rather than having to redo an entire room (which can sometimes take a good 15 minutes to accomplish). It feels like the perfect type of addition; Two Tribes hasn’t sacrificed the complexity that makes Toki Tori what it is, but has provided a way for players to enjoy the difficulty without getting too frustrated.
It is worth noting that the level editor, a mode which allows players to create their own levels from scratch in the Steam version of the game, is still not available here (and apparently cannot be brought to console editions). If you’re not too fussed about making your own levels, though, and are more interested in playing through the game’s campaign, the Switch version is the best console offering available thanks to its portability and all of these latest updates.
Toki Tori 2+ on Switch is still the same, cute and cuddly, yet fiendishly tricky game that we’ve been enjoying for the last few years, but with some notable improvements that make it the best version currently available on consoles. The difficulty of some puzzles may still be too much for some, but the levels of frustration that plagued earlier releases have been somewhat nullified thanks to new mechanics. If you’re interested in what the title has to offer, or have only played it in its earliest forms, we urge you to give this version a try.