You stare at the screen, scratching your head. While taking stock of the tools at your disposal, you quickly pull back the camera, surveying the level before you. Plotting out your plan of attack, you start racing down a ladder, careening toward an egg you have to collect. Suddenly, a crack in your plan forms–the egg you just got now leads you to a dead end. You have no choice but to restart and try the whole level all over again.
Prepare to go through the above scenario plenty of times while traversing Toki Tori’s four worlds. There are other variations of the same dead end, the most prevalent of them sprouting from some matter of using a specific tool where you shouldn’t.
Each of Toki Tori’s levels are essentially a self-contained jigsaw puzzle. In each stage you are given a set number of different tools; devices that will suck slugs into a vacuum, create makeshift bridges, set traps for ghosts, and so on. You use these items to reach all of the eggs that are scattered around the environment. Once you have them all in your possession, you can proceed to the next stage to tackle a new challenge.
The problem arises when you run into the constricting design choices that were seemingly made soley to test your sanity. With each level, there is one, and only one, way to gather the eggs… no exceptions. You will use every tool that you are given on every level… no exceptions. One botched move, one tool not pristinely placed, means that you will have to take the whole thing from the top. Imagine for a second that Toki Tori was a jigsaw puzzle. You pick up the first piece of the puzzle, and then the second, third, and fourth piece. On the fifth piece you realize that it doesn’t fit, so the four previous pieces unhook each other and then scramble themselves back into the pile. Getting those four pieces back together is a mater of just picking them back up and putting them back where you found them, but why should you need to go through the trouble?
To be fair, these are not massive levels. Going from start to finish should be a two to three minute affair if you know the solution. After your fifth, sixth, seventh attempt at a given level, you’ll start to ask yourself if the punishing design is worth any more of your time. There are definitely some “ah-ha” moments when the solution clicks, you execute everything flawlessly, and you move on. Yet, because you have to attempt the level so many times, success usually feels like more of a relief than a gratifying experience.
Given the limitations of WiiWare file size, Toki Tori is decidedly simplistic artistically. Character and enemy designs are cute, colorful and lively, while the environments are varied between cheerful, light-hearted forests, to damp, dark sewers. The music fits each of the environments well, though in the case of the forest level, can get particularly grating.
This version of Toki Tori is an enhancedment of the 2001 Game Boy Color title of the same name. In a lot of ways, it makes sense, as this is a game that belongs in 2001. In a world where Portal exists, a game that tested player’s logic rather than their patience, Toki Tori doesn’t manage to stack up to the competition.