Published on January 5th, 2019 | by Joseph Saulnier0
Retro Remakes are the “In Thing” these days. Everybody is on and on about nostalgia and wanting see their favorite games remastered. Personally, I understand the want, but I would much rather see to content than replaying old content (keep in mind though, this is coming from a man who purchased Atari Classics, Diablo III, Skyrim, and a host of other remakes on the Switch). But I get it. These games give us an opportunity to see the classic games come back into the limelight, while also offering a new experience for our children, and their children. I was taken a little surprise by the announcement of Toki, this obscure game from yesteryear that I didn’t really think many people new about.
Toki was originally released as a stand-up arcade game all the way back in 1989 (that is 30 years ago now, in case you didn’t feel old enough already). It later made its way to the Sega Genesis under the name Toki: Going Ape Split (gotta love that title). The basics of the story goes like this: an evil wizard by the name of Vookimedlo kidnaps Miho, our story’s beautiful maiden. He also transforms our hero, Toki, into an ape. If that wasn’t enough, Toki also gained the ability to spit fireballs from his mouth. With this bizarre new ability in his arsenal, Toki sets out to rescue Miho from the evil Vookimedlo, also hoping to be transformed back to human in the process.
Toki is a platformer that kind of combines two sub-genres of the category. It’s got the “hop & bop” feel of many of the games in the Mario Bros. franchise, while also incorporating a “run & gun” style from various other games like Contra or BroForce. Each stage is timed, and as the timer counts down, you are tasked with traversing across stages of various settings. Toki takes a more slow and thoughtful approach to the game, as compared to other platformers where the action is more fast-paced giving your reflexes a workout. There is no run button, so players need to be extra fastidious when coming upon enemies and hazards, most of which move faster than you can. Also, don’t look for the health bar, there is none. One hit kills is the name of the game, giving a rather pure arcade platformer experience.
The odds are not all against Toki, though. You can find throughout the game enhancements, or modifications, to your fire-loogie ability. These mods range from extra-large loogies, to a very powerful charged attack. In terms of defense, an American football helmet can be found to protect Toki, and a pair of sneakers allowing him to run faster and jump higher. But it’s not that easy. The power-ups have a time limit, which usually means the time ends right when you really need them.
The original Toki isn’t winning any awards for visuals, even in its own time. That being said, the remake is beautiful in so many ways. Each enemy is well animated; even their animated deaths are amazing. Between the large and detailed characters, the environmental animation, and the vibrant backgrounds, it felt more like playing a cartoon than a video game. The only other games I’ve really had this experience with are the 2 most recent South Park titles from Ubisoft. I was so immersed in the environment, it felt like I was watching a Saturday morning cartoon that I can control.
This game is difficult, but don’t let it scare you off. The devs have designed the game in such a way that you should be able to make it through the adventure with a little bit of practice, regardless of your skill level. You can choose the level of difficulty, and I played through the game on medium difficulty. True to its arcade roots, you are given 9 credits on this difficulty, each difficulty granting you 4 lives at the start. I would wager that easy gives either more credits or more lives per credit, where as hard and hardest take away, and probably provide more difficult enemies as well.
With only six stages and no DLC/unlockable content in sight, your time with Toki may be short. Given the limited gameplay, some may tire of the game quickly, but the real question is whether or not it is a valuable experience for the player. For me, they took a lackluster game (that I still had fun with in the early nineties) and made it better. It’s safe to say, for me, this was a quality experience. You can pick up the base game in stores or on the Nintendo eShop, or you can pick up the “Retrollector” edition which comes with the game, a wooden arcade machine build to put your Nintendo Switch into, exclusive prints, sticker sheets, and an exclusive comic.
4 stars out of 5
Disclaimer: a copy of Toki was provide to Skewed and Reviewed for the purposes of this review.