Way back in the year 2001, a little game called Toki Tori was released on the Game Boy Color that was a technical marvel (still have my copy). Toki Tori was a platform puzzler game where you helped guide a little yellow chick as he collected eggs and used tools and powers to solve puzzles. It also looked and sounded great for a Game Boy Color title, and even rivaled the new-at-the-time Game Boy Advance system. Since then, the original Toki Tori has been ported to several other consoles in downloadable form with HD graphics, including Steam on PC and the original Wii. Now, more than ten years later, Toki Tori is finally getting a sequel, downloadable on Wii U and PC (Wii U version reviewed here).
In the first game, Toki Tori, the little baby chick character you play as, had access to all sorts of tools and crazy powers. In the sequel, Toki Tori can only do one of two things. He can peep, and he can stomp. Since he can’t jump or throw fireballs or do any of those other things 2-D platformer heroes usually do, you’ll have to make clever use of his abilities to solve puzzles and bypass obstacles.
The puzzles generally involve interacting with other creatures in the game, making it a rather organic experience. Peeping usually draws other critters toward you, while stomping drives them away or startles them enough to drop what they were holding or losing grip on walls and ceilings. Here are some examples on how all this works. You may need to guide fireflies to light the way in a dark cave by peeping. Or you may need to stomp to scare a bug into a frog’s mouth. Frogs who have eaten a bug will then puff up, and you can peep to make them face whatever direction you want. Stomp again and the frog will cough up a bubble that you can ride in temporarily to reach higher areas. Sometimes you want to remain unseen by creatures by hiding in tall grass or in shadows, so you’ll also have to solve problems by NOT peeping, stomping, or making noise.
In the Wii U version, you view the action on the TV, and the Wii U gamepad shows items of interest in each level, like doors and such. You can also see what songs you’ve learned (more on that later). You can also switch and view the action on the touch pad controller screen, letting you play the game while the rest of the family uses the TV for other things.
The most amazing thing about the game is that aside from the title screen, there is no text at all. You learn all of Toki Tori’s moves and abilities just by playing, and find out why he’s on an adventure in the first place. No tutorials or anything like that. And while the game seems linear at first, later on you’ll be able to backtrack and explore previous areas to find new paths with skills you’ve learned in other sections, kind of like a Metroid game. But since you can only peep and stomp, technically you can still reach these new areas at any point in the game! If you pay attention and watch certain singing birds, you can learn songs by pressing the ‘peep’ button in short taps or long presses. These songs let you warp back to checkpoints if you make a mistake, summon a giant bird to whisk you away to other areas on the map, and more!
The only problem with the game is that since it uses no words, sometimes goals are a little unclear and it may be tough at first to figure out what you’re supposed to do, and later, where you’re supposed to go. I also noticed that there seems to be only one save file, making it difficult to share the game in one household. But other than that, Toki Tori 2 is a fantastic and creative game for puzzle fans, and a must-have Wii U title that’s much appreciated in this recent Wii U game drought.
Violence is very minimal in the game. If Toki Tori gets hit by a bad creature like a bat or electric bug, he just flops over on his back. Press the button and he’ll warp back to the last checkpoint ready to try again with a minimal loss of feathers. He can drown, also. Since Toki Tori 2 uses hardly any words, reading skill is not required. However, younger gamers may still need a little help with some of the trickier puzzles in the game. But kids will love the colorful graphics and cute characters. They’ll just have fun making Toki Tori run around going “Peep! Peep! Peep! Peep!” Well, I did anyway. I wouldn’t be surprised if kids would start wanting Toki Tori toys like plush, squeezy toys, or shirts. Heck, even I would like stuff like that; maybe Two Tribes should open up an online store on their site! At any rate, this is an adorable game that I’d recommend for any family to play together. Toki Tori 2 is rated E for Everyone.