WiiU

North America

Toki Tori 2

by Guillaume Veillette - April 4, 2013, 7:20 am PDT
Total comments: 14

9

Discover countless ways how not to solve a puzzle.

Sequels. Nowadays, we expect them to be the same as the previous game, with some rough spots now polished and a continuation of the story. But long ago, game sequels could completely overhaul major aspects of the original's design and gameplay. Toki Tori 2 is such a sequel. Forget what you know about the first Toki Tori if you've played it, as most of its elements have been cast aside. The only things returning in this sequel are the adorable yellow bird who can't jump, and fiendish puzzles.

Toki Tori 2 loses no time in preamble. As soon as you launch the game, you are thrust into its world with nary a cutscene explaining the story or tutorial explaining the controls. It is no use bringing up the online manual either, as it doesn't say anything you won't figure out very quickly for yourself. Experiment with the controller to discover that the titular Toki Tori is limited to two actions: whistling and stomping. As for the plot, explore a bit and the diminishing population of yellow birds as plumes of lethal black smoke rise out of the ground tells you all you need to know about your motivation.

You would think that being limited to two actions would translate into simple and easy puzzles, but the genius of Toki Tori 2 comes from the ways whistling and ground-pounding affect the critters and environments of the game's world, as well as from the variety of ways these elements are combined to create new situations. Many puzzle games pad their lengths by repeating puzzles, but developer Two Tribes understands that puzzles are only fun to solve once, and took great care making sure that each solution to a puzzle comes up once, maybe twice. Many times, I was fooled into thinking "oh, I've solved a similar puzzle earlier" and sat there befuddled for an instant as one additional element I had failed to notice in my haste ruined my best laid plans.

Toki Tori 2 is not an easy game, but it is not unfair either, and problems that initially appear impossible have solutions that, in hindsight, are often simple. Since the game doesn't tell you anything and has you discover everything for yourself, observation is key. Sure, initially your limited abilities are used in very conventional ways and have you moving blocks around and pounding pegs into the ground, or attracting/repelling the critters populating the game to achieve your goals. But these basic puzzles quickly make way for ones that have you leverage all the different ways that various critters interact with each other, or necessitate that you pay attention to apparently trivial details. Can the delay between bats locating you and their attack help you in some way? Is it important to note that Toki Tori takes an awful lot of time to dry up after being in water? What about frogs stopping momentarily to croak in conversation every time they pass by one another? Is that significant, or is it just cute as heck?

The pacing and difficulty curve of the game are impossible to judge, as they are entirely dependent on the player. I recruited help after being stumped for hours by a puzzle. Both of us tried to solve it every which way. Frustrated, we resorted to doodling the various possibilities to work out the solution, to no avail.

This should not be necessary. If you find yourself stuck after trying a hundred tiny variations on a solution, or if your solution seems just too difficult to pull off, stop. It is likely that you are tweeting up the wrong tree. The puzzle that stopped our progress for so long ended up being much simpler than we had realized. We has simply failed to notice a crucial aspect about the environment. It's hard to blame the game for being too difficult when, once you've figured it out, the solution makes sense and has you think you should have thought of it earlier. I think most people will get stuck at some point in the game and my advice when that happens is to just think hard about what it is that you need to accomplish, and what it is that prevents you from doing it. Should the frustration prove to be too much, well, help should just be one Miiverse post away.

I would advise against seeking help, however. I initially bemoaned the lack of a hint system but the fact that I was still having fun despite one puzzle bringing my progress to a grinding halt for hours speaks volume. Toki Tori 2 demands a lot from players, more than the vast majority of modern games do. We have come to rely on games holding our hands and pointing out what to pay attention to as soon as we come across a puzzle, before we've had the chance to work it out. Allow Toki Tori 2 to remind you just how satisfying it can be to solve a clever puzzle entirely by yourself. This opportunity is all too rare today.

Summary

Pros
  • No hand-holding whatsoever
  • Varied puzzles, little repetition
  • Vibrant world filled with well-animated, detailed, adorable critters
Cons
  • High potential for frustration

Talkback

FjurbanskiApril 04, 2013


This game isn't showing up on the eShop or Miiverse. I can't buy it.


Now I'm mad.

You're in North America? Should go live in 30 minutes.

FjurbanskiApril 04, 2013

Pathetic!! Oh well, at least the 3DS eShop never lets me down...

OblivionApril 04, 2013

They have the same rules on the 3DS eshop... the games don't go live at midnight, dude.

FjurbanskiApril 04, 2013

Quote from: Oblivion

They have the same rules on the 3DS eshop... the games don't go live at midnight, dude.

Then how was I able to download Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon at 11:00pm the night before release?

Pixelated PixiesApril 04, 2013

That sounds infuriating. I've heard other reviewers express similar issues, whereby they've missed something and the game has failed to provide enough feedback to the player to get them back on track, so this certainly isn't an isolated issue. I think waiting a week or two until an FAQ becomes available might be advisable.

*In Europe I seem to have to wait until around 13:00 or 14:00 to be able to see new releases on the 3DS eShop. It is kind of a bummer.

I do think the hints are there, though. It was my own fault that I failed to notice something essential to solve the puzzle. I really think we're just not used to having games solve their own puzzles for us anymore. There's always some sidekick, some inner monologue or some camera pan basically telling us what to do, in games that want to offer a "cinematic experience". But this being a puzzle game, puzzles are the whole point. I think the game would have been a lesser experience if Toki Tori said "Hmm, this block looks weird, maybe I should..." after a length of time.

Quote from: Fjurbanski

Then how was I able to download Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon at 11:00pm the night before release?

Nintendo doesn't treat digital releases and digital versions of retail releases the same way, for some reason.

Pixelated PixiesApril 04, 2013

Quote from: Pandareus

I do think the hints are there, though. It was my own fault that I failed to notice something essential to solve the puzzle. I really think we're just not used to having games solve their own puzzles for us anymore. There's always some sidekick, some inner monologue or some camera pan basically telling us what to do, in games that want to offer a "cinematic experience". But this being a puzzle game, puzzles are the whole point. I think the game would have been a lesser experience if Toki Tori said "Hmm, this block looks weird, maybe I should..." after a length of time.


Toki Tori on Wii was also a puzzle game and it never revealed exactly how the puzzles were solved. My understanding, however, is that Toki Tori 2 is far more open than it's predecessor. The problem, as I understand it, is that Toki Tori does not make any accommodation for this fact. When you're dealing with a self-contained puzzle, like those in the original Toki Tori or a game like Fall Blox, it avoids being frustrating precisely because it is self-contained. The minute you introduce any significant backtracking into a puzzle game, you multiply the possibilities (which for some people can be frustrating).

I always remember Super Mario Bros when thinking about good design. The game does not tell us that it's possible to jump on enemies or that if we hit a block an item might come out. From the outset it simply puts Mario in a position where he needs to jump to avoid a Goomba. If we do manage to clear the enemy we hit the box above and an item comes out. If we don't manage to jump over the Goomba the likelihood is that we will land on it and kill it. Either way, we've learnt something about how the game works.

In my opinion there's a difference between explicitly showing the player what to do and intelligently designed puzzles which impart information to the player.

However, this is all mute because I haven't actually played the game myself. These are just some thoughts based on what I've read. If I ever get a Wii U I'll be interested to try TT2 for myself. I loved the Wii Ware game.

There is no real backtracking in Toki Tori 2, though. Every puzzle is self-contained. They span perhaps 2 screens at most, and it IS annoying that the camera doesn't pan out to give you a full view in those cases, but we're still not talking about backtracking here.

I understand what you mean about the first game. "I'm given these items for this level, which means I have to use these items to solve this level". Toki Tori 2 achieves the same thing by putting these creatures and objects on the screen (therefore you have to use these creatures and objects to solve the puzzle).

The openness of the game is really an illusion, which is why it doesn't get even a passing mention in my review and gets swept under the "forget what you know about the first game" line.

Pixelated PixiesApril 04, 2013

Quote from: Pandareus

The openness of the game is really an illusion, which is why it doesn't get even a passing mention in my review and gets swept under the "forget what you know about the first game" line.


That's fair. It seems then that some other reviewers have perhaps overstated just how open TT2 is. As I say, I'll be very interested to try it for myself at some point. It looks great and I'm always on board for a good puzzle game.

PhilPhillip Stortzum, April 04, 2013

I'm glad this turned out well. I still need to play the original Toki Tori before I can touch the sequel.

FjurbanskiApril 04, 2013

Quote from: Pandareus

Nintendo doesn't treat digital releases and digital versions of retail releases the same way, for some reason.

Well they should fix that.


Anyway, first few hours with the game were really fun. I've reached a few brain stumpers, but nothing I need to draw a diagram for (yet).


So far I'm having a great time. I love that all the "powers" are available right at the beginning if you can discover them. I stumbled upon the photograph song in the very first stage, which was a very nice surprise.


Honestly, after playing so many games like Skyward Sword, where you press a switch to unlock a door, the camera zooms in on the door, and then Fi pops up and says, "Yo! You should probably go through that door! 95%!!!", it really is nice to just have the game shut up and let me figure things out on my own.

azekeApril 05, 2013

Got it yesterday.

Great game.

Patching in wiimote control option would be nice though.

No main menu and bare options are kinda.. weird. Not bad per se cause apart from mentioned control options they don't miss much, it's just kinda unusual.

From few hours i played i'm not feeling metroidvania feel so far. Sure, worlds are gigantic and i pass by lots of places i can't seem to access at the moment, but so far i can only go "forward", deeper into the game. Sometimes i can't even go "back", from where i came cause i fell off a ridge too high or something.

It definitely feels like there will be some teleport unlock further into the game, probably something to do with stones...

Without teleporting traversing is kinda of a hassle cause puzzles sometimes can take quite some time to pull off properly and you spend two minutes just to get on a shoulder high platform. And sometimes you mess up and will have to do it all over again, or sometimes mess up even worse and will have to use retry to reset puzzles initial state.

It feels like game has so much more to show to me and i can't wait to come back to it.

Disco StuApril 06, 2013

I'm really enjoying this game, however, in reference to its slow pace, I was playing it late last night and I totally fell asleep in the middle of solving a puzzle.  I woke up 3 hours later to find Toki lookin' just as perky as ever.

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WiiU

Game Profile

Toki Tori 2 Box Art

Genre Puzzle
Developer Two Tribes
Players1

Worldwide Releases

na: Toki Tori 2
Release Apr 04, 2013
PublisherTwo Tribes
RatingEveryone
jpn: Toki Tori 2 + Himerareta Nazo to Fushigina Shima
Release Sep 03, 2014
PublisherRainy Frog
RatingAll Ages

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