The cute and charming Toki Tori originally was released on the Game Boy Color at the tail end of the handheld’s life with the Game Boy Advance waiting in the wing. It’s refreshing and challenging puzzle style helped the game stand out on a platform marred by quick cash-ins and games that played all too similar. Fast forward to 2014 and Toki Tori has been ported and upgraded numerous times since then, with the most recent release on the PlayStation Network here in North America (the game released in Europe over two years ago).
The gameplay seems simple enough, control the non-jumping, but cute Toki Tori and collect all of the eggs that have been scattered across over 90 levels and four different themed worlds. In each level you are provided with limited use items to help you accomplish your goal in similar fashion to the classic Lemmings franchise. Find yourself on the wrong side of a gap and you can build a bridge to walk across or you could use a teleport device to teleport yourself in any of the four cardinal directions. The puzzles are designed so specific tools must be used in the correct spots or you will not be able to finish the puzzle. Thankfully, Toki Tori includes the rewind feature from the Steam release allowing you to easily rewind to correct a single mistake or to go back to the start of the current level.
Besides the risk of trapping yourself in a hole or falling into a hazard, you must also avoid touching any of the patrolling enemies that will instantly kill Toki Tori on contact. Some of the tools can be classified as weapons, allowing you to fight back. Each of the worlds has a unique item to deal with the enemies: Forest Falls features a freeze ray capable of encasing enemies in blocks of ice, in Creepy Castle ghosts can be trapped inside floors, the Snail Sucker can vacuum up enemies in the Slime Sewers and freezing enemies in Bubble Barrage allows their frozen bodies to float upwards. The puzzles become progressively harder as you advance and for an even greater challenge you can attempt the hard set of puzzles.
Failing at a puzzle on the first, second and even third try is commonplace, this is where the rewind feature comes in handy. Trial and error will get your through the majority of puzzles, especially those that at first glance are seemingly impossible. You may get so close to the end of a puzzle that you need to collect a single remaining egg, only to realize you already used the item you need to advance.
Toki Tori supports the use of the PlayStation Move controller (remember that waste of money?) for pin-point accuracy when moving Toki Tori around. Considering the side-scrolling nature of the game, I didn’t find any benefit for using the Move over the standard DualShock controller. The game also supports both stereoscopic 3D and the DualShock 4.
The clever design of the puzzles in Toki Tori makes for an enjoyable experience for the handful of hours it takes to complete them all. I wasn’t expecting to rely on the rewind feature as much as I did in the later levels. The pacing may be slower than you are used to, but when played in short bursts, it makes for a great choice to cleanse your palate after playing the latest shooter of the week.Note: Toki Tori was reviewed on PlayStation 3. A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher/developer.