Few will argue that Nintendo’s new console is off to a rocky start. A clear lack of third-party support is mostly to blame, but not having original, must-own titles is also a problem. The eShop is probably one of the strongest breeding grounds for new content, and Toki Tori 2 is one of the best things to grace it since the Wii U was released back in November. The mixture of smart design and clever puzzles make this one all owners of the console should definitely check out.
Simplicity is the name of the game with Toki Tori 2. Movement is limited to left and right, with the ability to ascend and descend ladders. There are only two buttons, one for stomp and the other for whistle, and that is it. There is no jump button or power-ups along the way; instead the challenge comes from a lack of onscreen tutorials guiding players, letting them figure out how to progress entirely on their intuition. This is the brilliance of the experience. Large text boxes holding your hand through the next puzzle type are never seen, and I absolutely love that.
The elegant design of the game is its biggest asset. Immediately players are dumped into the world, with no direction. Tapping buttons quickly teaches mechanics without consequence, and the design allows for explanation without text. The pace is slow enough that it never forces rushing through levels, and once the puzzle clicks, the sense of satisfaction is immensely rewarding. It was a gamble the developers took, but it paid off.
While the design is intentional, it doesn’t come without side effects. Simplicity can be the enemy as solutions are often discovered by accident, rather than intuition. Limited controls and moves only serve to force players to abuse them, until the solution presents itself. What this means is that some of the more challenging enigmas are solved through unconventional means, which I am sure the developers never intended. It doesn’t happen often enough to be annoying, but there were some puzzles I stumbled across the solutions for, without ever contemplating them.
The simple design also wields issues the first time you go into the pause menu. Nothing is labeled, and while some options are obvious, others are not. I loaded various items I didn’t intend to until I familiarized myself with it, and that is not good design.
What is good design though is that the entire game is completely accessible from the outset. When I first started the game I would see collectibles that I assumed I could come back for because I didn’t have the proper power yet. That was until I realized that there were no new powers, and going back to collect items came from knowledge of the mechanics, instead of collecting some new trinket. I adore this about Toki Tori 2. The condensed nature of the experience never tells you how it works, but when I figured it out, it was worth so much more than a text box explaining that item A would open door B.
Another thing that has to be noted about Toki Tori 2 is how it looks. The slick 2D art style really jumps off the screen. Whether playing on a standard display, or the Wii U gamepad, this game looks incredible. The variety of levels, and their animated style really pop in all the right ways. Watching the development process really showcased how much work the team at Two Tribes accomplished. This is one fine-looking game.
Sure it may have some small setbacks, but the gamble Two Tribes took with Toki Tori 2 really paid off. The clever design and simplistic mechanics really click, and when that discovery of how it all worked hit me, I was in love. The Wii U may not have a plethora of must-own titles, but if you own the console, this game is definitely one to pick up. The eShop could continue to be a spawning pool for brilliance like this; let’s just hope developers continue to bring their great vision to the platform.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.