Toki Tori 2 is a beguiling game. Underneath an abundantly cutesy exterior lies what soon emerges to be an increasingly tricky puzzle-platformer.
This long-awaited sequel to the 2001 Game Boy Color title switches chicken farm for a luscious forest island, with Toki Tori returning as the game’s unlikely hero. What has changed more significantly, though, is that the tool-based affair seen within the original has now been replaced by a far more minimalist approach.
As an American author once wrote, “Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.” Such famous statement is taken by Two Tribes, who now leave the player to their own devices in solving the puzzles laid before them through their own actions with no sagely assistance.
Without any text-based aid, your precarious adventure through the Dutch developer’s intricately-crafted expanse will often prove itself to be a mind-wracking struggle. There’s a somewhat overwhelming expanse to explore, and such a key design choice results in what initially becomes a cautious-and-yet-curious experience.
With no indication as to where you must go or what you must do, players will at first nervously become accustomed to the actions available to the game’s central character, an adorable yellow chicken.
You have just two abilities at your disposal – whistling and stomping – and it is through experimentation that you’ll discover how each allow you to interact with your surrounding environment, and the creatures that inhabit it. For instance, block-carrying crabs can be summoned towards you with a whistle, or moved away from you with a stomp.
Whistling particular note patterns opens up the opportunity to access further abilities, such as restarting from your most recent checkpoint, taking in-game screenshots, locating nearby collectables, and, much later, to fly around the world map.
Whilst your exploration is never guided, Two Tribes have carefully structured the game so that, through your own discovery, you learn along the way. Basic mechanics are introduced during the opening level, such as frogs that burp bubbles once they’ve munch a purple critter, or birds that return anything they can get their claws on to their nest. Yet beyond this the difficulty soon begins to step up, interweaving such elements into far more complex puzzles for you to conquer.
The lack of hand-holding is a double-edged sword, being obvious in certain areas whilst in others blindly leaving players to scurry to Miiverse to plead to the community for a solution. Yet despite regular intervals at which you’ll sit staring blankly at the screen whilst your brain deciphers, it ultimately delivers a thoroughly refreshing experience.
This is a game that continually makes you think-on-your-feet, rather than seeing you mindlessly rush through its vast content. The lack of any form of time limit aids this in enabling players to tackle the game at their own pace, accompanied by a happy-go-lucky soundtrack that perfectly matches Toki Tori 2’s charmingly carefree mood.
With equally mesmerising visuals Toki Tori 2 amounts to being an absolute treat, and we can certainly be grateful for its Nintendo eShop release. Two Tribes have redefined their Game Boy Color classic across the board, and masterfully doing so at that.