Toki Tori Review (2001 Game Boy Color Puzzle Game)

Despite the cutesy character on the box, Toki Tori is a challenging platform puzzle game, designed with obvious care and inventiveness. The excellent gameplay is engrossing and the puzzles are tough mind-bending affairs that show off the capabilities of the graphics on the Game Boy Color.

Toki Tori, a newly hatched baby chick, sees an unknown force abduct all the eggs on the chicken farm and then drop them inside a castle. From a mountain ledge, he watches as the eggs are scattered all over the place. Your job, as Toki, is to find the eggs and discover the force behind the abduction as you negotiate 60 levels, spanning four lands with 15 puzzles each. You’ll have up to five skills per level out of the possible ten available.

The first land is designed as a tutorial to get you used to game mechanics. You initially have only the “eyes” skill, allowing you to look over the entire game board in order to develop some sort of overall plan. You’re faced with a small time limit in which to retrieve four eggs, but failure to do so simply means you must begin again.

As you proceed from level to level and land to land, you’re faced with more eggs to retrieve, different time limits, more monsters, and gain additional skills. For example, you can use the crate creator to help shield Toki from monsters and a bubble suit to float through a level until the air runs out, though air pockets can be found which keep the suit filled. Skills are limited to a set number of uses, with the exception of the “freeze-o-matic” which is unlimited. Careful planning must go into the placement of crates and bridge gaps in order to retrieve the eggs. If you waste your skills and get in a bind, the only option is to restart the level, which doesn’t hinder your progress up to that point.

Toki Tori doesn’t have much going for him without special skills, as his only real ability is to survive a fall from any height, but so can the bad guys. His basic skills include waddling (faster with a double-tap on the D-pad), climbing ladders, and hopping up to a very close ledge but not across gaps.

Levels are carefully laid out, and gameplay isn’t about fending off tons of enemies while you frantically run around trying to retrieve the eggs. Since the character is so slow, even with the double tap boost, you generally can’t avoid enemies since they lock onto you and follow you everywhere — they even fall faster than Toki. Each level is more challenging and complex than the next, but monsters can be stopped cold with the “freeze-o-matic” skill, which requires some thought as to where and when to shoot since you can’t jump over the enemies.

Beating each level is generally a case of trial-and-error. In a few instances, you can look at the board to determine where you need to go to finish the job, but these epiphanies are rare. Some of the really clever designs trick you into going left when you should have gone right, or make you use a special skill you should have saved for later. Some puzzles can only be solved in a certain way, so expect to restart frequently. Toki Tori is so addictive and fun, though, most gamers won’t care how often they have to reset.

Some of the advanced levels are so challenging and insanely frustrating that younger players may not enjoy them. Unfortunately, gamers who stay away because of the cute anime character on the box cover will miss a wonderful puzzle adventure. Regardless of the number of times you have to restart the levels, you’ll never switch off the Game Boy Color in disgust, only to get some sleep.

Graphics

The GBC technology is pushed to the limit with animated backgrounds and foregrounds, with full use of the color pallet. The yellow used for Toki makes him look fuzzy like a little chick should.

Sound

Sound effects are minimal, and the few used in the game aren’t special. Background music is catchy and fun.

Enjoyment

Despite some incredibly tough puzzles toward the end, the game is simply fun to play. Restarting levels isn’t a bother, and gameplay can be as addictive as Tetris.

Replay Value

After finishing the game, you’ll want to go back and play on the hard level.

Documentation

Full coverage of controls and gameplay, with a few hints to assist you.

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