(Wii U eShop)

Toki Tori 2+ (Wii U eShop)

Game Review

Toki Tori 2+ Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

A hatchling of a grand idea

While Toki Tori was a launch title on WiiWare and seized a lot of attention as a result, its direct sequel has had a more protracted release history. Initially planned as a Wii U eShop launch title, Toki Tori 2 arrives after developer Two Tribes had a late change of heart and delayed release, taking the opportunity to expand on it further and improve key elements. The final result is a long way from its Game Boy Color and WiiWare predecessors, and provides a new and potentially divisive twist on the formula.

While Toki Tori was classic puzzle fare — enclosed areas with fixed items and one escape route — this sequel delves off in an entirely different direction. For one thing, gone is the linear progression and hand holding, and in its place Two Tribes dusts its palms of the game and says, quite simply, "now it's all yours". Even the manual tells you that you whistle with A and stomp with B, before stating that it's up to you to find out everything else for yourself. There's no real tutorial, no "go this way" arrows or text boxes of tips; it's all about interpreting your surroundings, while using deductions and your puzzle-solving skills.

As a system it starts off rather well. The set items and levels of the original make way for much larger stages, and you have to engage with and manipulate various creatures to get around. Whistles and stomps have different effects; for example you may need to stomp to make a berry fall to a lower area, you whistle a frog to attract it to that area, the frog eats the berry and, with a stomp, will blow out a bubble that carries you up to a platform. Your little chick can't do anything but walk and carry out those two simple actions, so practically every area of a stage requires the use of these creatures, and as you progress the interactions become more complex, precise and varied in results; some puzzles not only demand sharp thinking, but good timing and quick thumbs. You also unlock the rather neat camera tool, with which you're given the task of using the GamePad to snap landmarks and creatures to add to a photo album.

All of this adds to a sense of immersion with the world, and you really are a chick with limited tools making its way without any kind of road map. It's an attractive place to explore, too, with areas typified by lush long grasses, waterfalls, caves or a volcanic mountain. It's a lovely graphics engine with bright colours and chunky models, with ambient music and sounds perfectly suited to the various settings.

In the initial stages we did believe this to be a linear title — we were soon to learn otherwise — as we merrily progressed through gates and saw our hero moving along the map from stage to stage. We were activating beacons, without necessarily knowing why, and it was easy to be swept away by its charms; it had been nothing but interesting, challenging and enjoyable at that stage. There were some sticking points, as good puzzle games provide, but even without any real guidance we were moving along the path we found naturally.

It was after roughly two hours that we met a dead-end, with nothing more than a vague vision directing us to an area we hadn't found yet; we were stuck, as for the first time no new path opened up. We'd been collecting gold pieces, so assumed that we needed to go back and find more in previous stages as, frankly, we weren't sure what else we could do. Watching someone else playing we noticed that even at the very start of the game, and in other areas besides, there were devious extra animal manipulations possible to divert off a natural path for extra gold and, sometimes, a route to a new area. The fact a new song had been taught to us — songs that you whistle are vital tools for restarts, activating your camera and more — in one of these secret areas that showed where gold was located, simply made us think that was our goal. As the game had been teaching us and telling a story through oblique but perceptible means, we took it as a good indication.

It's at this stage that a merry-go-round took place that highlights a design flaw that, for any impatient gamers out there, may be problematic. We wandered around, repeating stages, attempting to retrieve gold, and despite some success found some of the puzzles particularly fiendish. After a couple of hours we concluded that we were making very little progress by repeating levels and again explored stages on the map with blocked off paths. One avenue was repeatedly closed, and by chance we eventually stumbled across a route to a fresh gate. Hosanna's were sang and there was a sweet sense of accomplishment, but only after a long time of aimless confusion and frustration.

This approach — so commonly referred to as Metroidvania — can work, and in this title you earn the ability to fly between levels where you've found beacons and launched from a save point. Despite this, exploration has no sense of momentum because every area, even just walking a little in any direction, often requires solving multiple puzzles, so if you backtrack or explore you're repeating puzzles over and over again. When you combine this with the absence of assistance aside from some fairly unassuming visual cues, it's easy to become utterly baffled.

When the experience flows this game is a delight, but when you miss a cue or struggle with a puzzle, it can feel like there's no way out. While challenge is good, the absence of any substantial hints or "passes" to earn and use sparingly can lead to multiple road-blocks to leave you scratching your head. Rather unlike the Lostwinds titles on WiiWare, or even the famous Super Metroid, the setup doesn't feel as instinctive as seeking colour co-ordinated doors — Toki Tori 2 isn't as generous with its cues, and the puzzle solving core to the concept always slows you down, which is particularly frustrating with tough areas that require precise timing or convoluted movements.

Our time with the game has led to occasions where being stuck for a significant period, or even worse not knowing where to go, left us pining for a currency we could spend to move to the next point, or even a guide to give us a limited number of hints. When we found a new area or successfully progressed thanks to a vague clue given in game, there was a feeling of exhilaration; yet sometimes the balance felt too far against our favour, where we wanted the developer to give us a small helping hand.

In that sense this is a bold approach we don't often see in modern games. The player is left to their own devices and must essentially "live off the land", but on this occasion it's actually solving puzzles off the bounty of nature. Some of these puzzles can rightly be a source of pride for the development team, as they're either intuitive and smart enough to raise a smile, or are typified by clever mis-direction and trickery. We happily had our minds stretched trying to figure some of them out or extended periods, and in actual fact had a lot of enjoyment playing while others were in the room — a form of puzzle co-op. If a puzzle does defeat you for extended periods, however, you have no option but to keep grinding on; there's no get out of jail card.

Another important point is that there's no "file selection", as when you start the game you automatically pick up where you left off, which comes across as a nice piece of immersion and sense that you're naturally progressing in an adventure. That said, if more than one member of the household is playing they can create their own save via their Wii U system user profile, to avoid any confusion or disappointment. It's also worth noting that the often mentioned level editor isn't present at launch, with plans for it to arrive in a subsequent update.

Conclusion

Toki Tori 2 takes the Two Tribes mascot in a bold, ambitious new direction, and represents a unique offering on the Wii U eShop. At its best it's a visually appealing, intuitive experience that truly teaches you to use powers of deduction and to think creatively. The offset of the hands-off approach to narrative is that the lack of guidance can be daunting and, at times, detrimental — it's simply too easy to miss a subtle clue and wander aimlessly with no suggestion of what you need to achieve. Like its toughest puzzles, the pieces eventually fall into place and bring satisfaction, but the move towards self-dependence, exploration and back-tracking doesn't always suit the puzzle-on-every-screen mechanic. As such this is a beautiful but flawed experience, worth an investment even if — occasionally — pride has to be swallowed and an online guide sought out.

Since launch Two Tribes has released a major free update on 12th September in North America and Europe, titled Toki Tori 2+. The up-to-date version addresses many of the issues outlined in this review; while this article remains unchanged, you can read our Hands On: Toki Tori 2+ feature for our impressions on the updated version of the game.

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User Comments (63)

Luis-GVN

#2

Luis-GVN said:

Fantastic review, I feel the same way about the way Two Tribes designed the game to be without text or narration. While the concept seemed interesting at first, it lead me to get stuck on levels several times and often lead me to asking other fellow journalists if they had figured that particular level out and vice versa. That aside, Toki Tori 2 is still a good and very challenging puzzle game.

FritzFrapp

#7

FritzFrapp said:

Woah! No hand-holding at all? Brilliant. Looking forward to this game even more so now. I really miss the way games in the 70s and 80s challenged the player.

Haxonberik

#8

Haxonberik said:

Im going to hold it for a while then, wait for a more considerable discount either on te Wii U or on Steam.

DePapier

#9

DePapier said:

If you guys had reviewed the game two weeks after release, going on Miiverse to ask for help would have made you give it a 8. Complaining the game is too hard is not right when you can have friends helping you out in a few minutes.

Chunky_Droid

#10

Chunky_Droid said:

@DePapier: They could have also asked other website writers for assistance too over the past week, I don't think a game needs to get a higher score because you need to ask friends for help, in some cases that can lower the score depending on the game.

WiiLovePeace

#11

WiiLovePeace said:

Sounds like it'll be as hard as Toki Tori 1 then, & I'll be looking up online guides before long (or going on Miiverse for help), bye bye pride ;) Oh & slightly disappointing that the level editor isn't ready for the release of the game but I'm certainly glad they didn't delay the game further to fit it in. Will be picking this game up when available :D

Airola

#12

Airola said:

LOL, I'm actually really excited about everything the review criticized it about :D
The best game I have ever played is the infamous La Mulana, and I have a feeling that this one will give me an experience that's a bit like that.

ThomasBW84Admin

#14

ThomasBW84 said:

@DePapier I sometimes played with family watching, and as I say that co-op element was fun. Being able to read a guide, walkthrough or seek help from others wouldn't increase a score. I don't simply say "it's too hard", I go into some elements with the structure and concept that don't always work, and give examples of where this style can be a bit more intuitive. Challenge is fine, and it's not as simple as saying it's hard, therefore it gets a lower score.

I could have asked others for help, but this was me playing the game and my experience; if I feel it's structurally confusing and vague at times, I think that's valid.

Big important points though — I like the game and 7 is a recommendation. If it sounds like your kind of game and you love puzzles, this is well worth a look.

erv

#15

erv said:

Very good review.

I think the score is somewhat disappointing to me, but it doesn't matter in that sense per se. The downsides listed in the review are actually positives to me.

This game looks like a lot of fun, I'll definitely pick it up at launch.

Alienfish

#17

Alienfish said:

The best puzzle games leave you scratching your head followed by screaming at your TV in a blind rage. If a puzzle game has heavy narrative it usually leads you around and turns it from a puzzle game into a cushy ride. I can't say if the '7' is justified yet since I haven't played the game, but it does seem a little misplaced considering this is a puzzle game and puzzle games are supposed to be challenging and force you to look at every last detail.

... puzzle game.

Yep, I've played it now and can say without a doubt that this reviewer prefers to be hand-fed. Awesome game, I give it a 9.5/10.

Pixel-Perfect

#19

Pixel-Perfect said:

I hate the feeling of not knowing what you're supposed to be doing or where to go... In fact, one of my favorite things about Xenoblade is that they constantly point you to your next objective. I'll be passing, thanks.

RetrogamerFan

#20

RetrogamerFan said:

Excellent review.
Some of the feeling expressed in the review coincides with my experience with the first Toki Tori game, which i d/l from the 3DS e-shop when it was released last year. I found myself getting stuck quite a bit and hitting dead ends; I just didn't find the solutions to puzzles very intuitive, i ended up giving up after a couple of hours play and probably missing out on a big part of the game.
Also, which is nothing to do with this game, I've got a huge list of games to play at the moment so will pass on this.

ajcismo

#21

ajcismo said:

Based on your review, the old NES Legacy of the Wizard comes to mind. Unforgiving in its "you figure it out" approach, but giving a player a real sense of accomplishment when done.
I bet its extra frustrating when you've got an article deadline nearing too. ;)

adrenochrome

#22

adrenochrome said:

how can it be possible that some are already playing it when it'll be released only tomorrow ? :)

hiptanaka

#23

hiptanaka said:

And this is why review scores are often bad. The review is great, but the negatives to the reviewer may be positives to some (me included).

Giygas_95

#25

Giygas_95 said:

I'm a little surprised it didn't get at least an 8...It seems like really having to pay attention and use deduction, even if you get stuck for a long time, is kind of the point of the game.

rjejr

#28

rjejr said:

Seems like the game could use a Goombario ;-)

I recently quit playing Kyntt Underground in part b/c I was constantly lost. Though also all the cursing made what could have been a fun family game into a solo act.

Looking forward to playing this. As nearly everyone else had said, should be easy enough to find a solution to any truly difficult problems.

There aren't any pink panties hanging on a clothesline are there?

Dpullam

#29

Dpullam said:

This sounds like a good game from what I read of the review. I am not sure if I will be picking it up anytime soon though.

jpxdude

#30

jpxdude said:

This is pretty exciting, infact it's this type of game that should work hand in hand with Miiverse collaboration. Looking forward to trying this out soon :)

cyphid

#31

cyphid said:

I never played the gameboy color original, nor the WiiWare remake. I need to download one of those versions!

Toki Tori 2 looks very interesting as well. Nonlinear games are loads of pain, especially when it comes to puzzle games but sometimes its worth it. I give the devs kudos to their commitment to create a game they wanted to.

SteveW

#32

SteveW said:

I wanted to like it but the videos I am watching of it make it look boring...

hcfwesker

#37

hcfwesker said:

The fact this game doesn't hold your hand and offer "short cut" skips on puzzles is what it's all about for me. No better satisfaction in a puzzle game then identifying the solutions and solving the puzzles yourself.

Just a question, when are eShop new releases available, at midnight or early that morning?

PONGbyATARI

#38

PONGbyATARI said:

I will download this at launch. Looks like its worth the wait to me. Are far as getting stuck goes that's what gamefaqs is for. Thanks for another in depth review.

MKUltra

#39

MKUltra said:

Didn't win the egg contest, I'll will probably buy it at some point down the line if it's on sale and have nothing else to play, quite enjoyed the first game.

Prof_Elvin_Gadd

#41

Prof_Elvin_Gadd said:

@hcfwesker Usually around afternoon on Thursday, but occasionally different when the game is released for multiple platforms.

I actually liked what I read about the game, flaws and all. Furthermore; a score of "7" used to be good in a lot more people's minds than it is nowadays. Why does it seem everyone expects a game to receive a 9 or 10 to be worthy enough for them to play? I've played a few games that received lower scores on the rating spectrum and found them very pleasing. A "7" is still really good, if you bother to take the score into more consideration than the review itself.

Furealz

#42

Furealz said:

Luckily I won the contest! I know already it's going to be a great game... :) I'm Notable_Tweeter and I made a great effort making the set-up! Waiting since launch....

hcfwesker

#43

hcfwesker said:

@Prof_Elvin_Gadd thank you for the clarification. I never waited for a DL only game to be released on 1st day, so wasn't sure. I'm off work tomorrow so I'm sure I'll be refreshing my eShop page all night waiting for the moment LOL
@Furealz Congratz on that! I was too lazy to make an attempt and already knew I'd be more than happy to spend the price on the game :)

Ryno

#45

Ryno said:

If Thomas got stuck for "extended periods" then I may just pass. I don't want to spend my limited video gaming time on something like that.

SCAR392

#46

SCAR392 said:

I didn't like the WiiWare one too much. The actions you coukd perform seemed limited at the time, but maybe I was just being stupid. Oh well. I don't think I'll be getting this over Dues Ex or any other game to be honest. I'm sure it will be fun for those who do buy it though...

hcfwesker

#47

hcfwesker said:

Kinda funny after reading this review, and seeing on eShop there is (1) 5 star rating for the game, with 100% for Everyone & Casual gamers, when it seems it should be opposite, for Gamers & Intense

ToxieDogg

#49

ToxieDogg said:

It's all too easy to miss subtle clues and end up wandering around aimlessly in Luigi's Mansion 2 as well, wondering how the hell to get to the next objective at times. Doesn't make the game any worse though.

SparkOfSpirit

#50

SparkOfSpirit said:

I think Miiverse will be great for the "getting lost" part. I remember seeing such posts from Trine 2 as well.

That said, this is a pretty good review.

Henmii

#51

Henmii said:

Sounds like it is worth a 8! This game does something that is really rare nowadays: IT DOESN'T HANDHOLD!!

By the way: La Mulana also didn't handhold and got a 8!

Ah, it doesn't matter! This will be downloaded by me in the future when I have a Wii u!

Dyltheman

#54

Dyltheman said:

ill defintly consider, ill just wait to see another review for a 2nd opinion first

hcfwesker

#57

hcfwesker said:

Mannn, no offense to the reviewers and players, but the game is not quite as difficult as you put it. The bright side is, any obstacle or puzzle you come to for the first time, no matter which path you take, is solvable right then and there. Just takes some trial and error and knowing what to use in your surroundings. Have been playing this for the past 6 hours non-stop, and a few puzzles have been very tricky, but nothings stumped me thus far to the point of needing outside help. I'm actually 'the guy' on Miiverse answering everyone else's questions and hinting at solutions (trying to give others the chance to figure it out for themself). For those in doubt, this game is a puzzle platforming fan's dream come true. Personally I'd give it at least an 8, if not a 9

JeanLuc_Vaycard

#58

JeanLuc_Vaycard said:

Toki Tori was way overrated imo. If I ever get this it will be on steam when its priced for like 2 or 3 bucks.

emiru69

#59

emiru69 said:

Is this game is as difficult as it sounds? I went to the Miiverse and 99% of the messages are people who are stucked...

Ducutzu

#60

Ducutzu said:

It's not difficult. But it's a game that makes you think. So normally, if you get the option to complain at the first difficulty, you will go to Miiverse. It is to be expected with puzzle games.

skjia

#61

skjia said:

@hcfwesker hey I recognize you. Thanks for your help! :D

After completing the game, I must say this review is much too harsh and will scare people away. This game has the perfect difficulty. It was tough but never unfairly unbeatable. There were some side puzzles that took some real thinking and one or two that I went to Miiverse to, but they were side puzzles. Not necesary to finish the game. Granted this title is not for everyone but it is a really exceptional game. It's only flaw is that eventually it must be over. 9.5/10 for me. Best game on eShop.

P.S. I only got this game to support indie developers on the eShop. I wasn't a huge fan of the original so I did not expect to like it. I'm extremely glad I got it.

SKTTR

#62

SKTTR said:

Toki Tori 2 sure is a 9/10. Content, graphics, music, originality. It's all there on highest standards. One of the best puzzle platformers ever. And easily one of my favourite eShop games so far.

It's shameful to see Kung Fu Rabbit (released and bought around the same time), which is merely a quick port AND clone AND lacking in graphics and music AND can be completed in merely 5 hours, is scoring higher here.

I guess it's kinda unfortunate when a reviewer has to play and review a game in a genre he doesn't really like. But more unfortunate than that are puzzle platform fans skipping Toki Tori 2 just because of the 7 here.

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