Virtual Console Review: Toki Tori (GBC)

An eggs-cellent puzzle platformer from the GBC era returns to 3DS eShop.

By Katharine Byrne. Posted 08/17/2012 10:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Fiendish puzzles, simple but effective mechanics, catchy soundtrack.
Poison Mushroom for...
A single mistake often means restarting each level, almost twice as expensive as the iPhone version which has improved gameplay mechanics.

Chickens have never had a very good deal when it comes to video games. They’re either getting skewered on Link’s Master Sword, stuffed into Dracula’s castle walls, or providing much needed target practise for Leon Kennedy and chums. For reasons only known to those confined in the eggth level of Hell, they always seem to bring out the worst in us.

But our eponymous hero Toki Tori is one chick that dares to defy this hallowed tradition of mauling poultry on sight by bringing us one of the most charming and endearing puzzle platformers from the twilight days of the Game Boy Colour era before everyone flew the coop for Nintendo’s shiny new Game Boy Advance.

The main aim is to find all of Toki Tori’s unhatched siblings after they were mysteriously abducted from his chicken farm one day. Thankfully, the egg-nappers in question were only after one egg in particular– the magic egg that Toki Tori hatched from– so all the ordinary, un-magic eggs were promptly thrown off into the distance, landing in the nearby forest, castle, cave and lake.

Of course, being a pretty new hatchling himself, Toki Tori’s means of rescuing his brothers and sisters aren’t particularly extensive to begin with. He sinks like a lead weight whenever he jumps (which isn’t very far), he can only hop up the most minuscule of ledges, and his tiny wings aren’t particularly built for flying. Ordinarily these limitations might make for a rather frustrating kind of hero, but it’s handy, then, that he’s also a magic hatchling with a bunch of simple, yet effective tools at his disposal to help him out instead. These include a bridge-building kit, an ice-ray, and the power to conjure crates and move small walls to name just a few. And he can teleport. Not bad for an egg fresh out of chicken school.

The early Forest Falls is a walk in the park, but the final world (Bubble Barrage) will eat you alive.

There are also a few world-specific items such as a slug-vacuum and ghost traps, but for the most part each of its forty “normal” levels is very much like the last– eggs are dotted round the screen and Toki Tori must navigate his surroundings by using his finite number of tools to get them all within the allotted time limit. The only thing really separating them is a steadily increasing difficulty curve, but this more than makes up for its more humble ambitions as a platformer, as the vast majority of these mind-bending puzzles will almost certainly leave you with egg on your face by the time you’re halfway through (and that’s not even counting the twenty extra “hard” levels you gradually unlock after completing each world).

Sometimes, however, its difficulty can work against it, as one wrong move often means a hasty restart, and this unrelenting stance on even the most unintentional of mistakes may be particularly frustrating for players who are used to the Pushmo school of easy-rewind puzzling. Persist, though, and you’ll find that Toki Tori is certainly one of the more intelligent puzzlers out there, even if its challenge curve can be slightly unforgiving at times.

The only thing potentially holding Toki Tori back, however, is the price of entry, which (at least here in the UK) is almost double the cost of the iPhone version (itself a new and improved version of the same game which also, incidentally, features an easy-rewind function). It’s still chicken-feed compared to some of the other titles available on eShop, but it’s yet another sign that 3DS isn’t quite in line with the rest of the digital gaming sphere.

Still, if you’re hankering for another good GBC egg on Virtual Console, then you certainly can’t go far wrong with Toki Tori. A worthy edition to any puzzle fan’s library, its outer shell may look cute and casual, but inside is a tough-as-nails puzzle platformer that certainly deserves a lot more love than it received when it was originally released in 2002.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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