Tuesday, December 4

Review: Toki [Nintendo Switch eShop]


As an older gamer who spent way too many hours in the arcades as a kid I’m always excited to see classic games getting the modern upgrade treatment. Oddly enough in the case of Toki it’s not a game I have fond memories of, or even many memories at all. It looked familiar but before playing it I was unable to tell whether I’d ever invested much time into it. Now having played the remake there are some familiar things about it but so I think it’s something I ran into and played at some point, but with some of its quirks I can also make some assumptions about why it wasn’t something I would have invested a ton of quarters in at the time.


Borrowing multiple elements from other titles into one pretty crazy experience Toki is a title that refuses to be categorized easily. A mixture of platforming, shooting, surviving a variety of monsters and traps, and then taking down some big bosses it has a somewhat kitchen sink approach. While each of its 6 stages vary in their design, enemies, and challenges you can count on there being periodic power-ups that will help you out, some traps and puzzles that you’ll likely end up conquering through some trial and error deaths initially, and quite a bit of plain weirdness. Thankfully they’ve added variable difficulty levels that control how many continues you’ll get as this isn’t likely a title you’ll just jump in and dominate, there’s very much a need to understand some of the mechanics and tricks in a variety of areas to be successful.


The standout quality of this remake is absolutely its presentation. The hand-drawn characters are full of detail and personality, the environments are varied visually and quite gorgeous, and the music is pretty well spot-on for the experience. Having said that the visuals are also one of the game’s challenges. As well integrated as everything is visually there are spots where it can be tough to tell what’s in the foreground versus the background, and that can lead to some mistakes and frustration in places. One element common with the original title is also that since Toki is such a large character on-screen dodging incoming projectiles with him can be a challenge as while he may be nimble he’s not terribly fast. It’s all part of the experience, and the character size and movement are consistent with the original, but it’s one of those things worth noting nonetheless.


If you’re a fan of the original Toki, or at least classic arcade-style games, this gorgeous remaster is pretty easy to recommend as long as you keep in mind that it’s a visual overhaul on an old game, flaws and all. A few new wrinkles of issues with differentiating foreground from background have been added in places but otherwise this game looks outstanding and plays faithfully to the original at the same time. As long as you keep your expectations in check and appreciate older arcade quarter-sucking sensibilities it can be a good time, for a little while at least.


Score: 7.5

Pros:
  • Looks amazing and the music is terrific
  • An odd mixture of multiple styles, combining shooting and platforming in a unique way
  • Some memorable and enemies and boss battles

Cons:
  • Old school sensibilities can be aggravating at times, like sections that you’ll need to die a few times to understand what you need to do, making it a bit cheap in places
  • While challenging it’s also a bit on the short side, leaving you to just try a higher difficulty and top your high score
  • The great art can make it hard to tell foreground from background at times