When the Toki Tori 2 team reached out to us it was a bit of a surprise. It's not that we haven't had prebuild copies of games before, or that we don't attend press events to provide previews. It's just a rarity to see a company reach out to lesser known entities to build interest for their game.
Toki Tori 2 arrives next month on the Nintendo Wii U eShop and we were fortunate enough to spend roughly an hour and a half with a preview (alpha) build of the game so we can give you all the nitty gritty on what to expect come next month.
In Toki Tori 2, you play as a bird traversing the world in a puzzle solving platformer. You have two abilities besides moving left and right on the screen: Pounding and Singing. You learn songs throughout the game from smaller birds, such as the transport to your last save spot song that I found myself using frequently.
While you gain some new abilities based upon the songs you play, there are uses for singing beyond the songs you learn. From scaring away the bigger carrier birds when you don't want them around to changing which way a crab or frog is facing and running... it's actually really neat how the whole system works.
The pound is exactly what you think it is. You can break certain things on the ground to go down, pound down switches, and knock enemies off the wall or simply change their direction. It's all simple, but it's in this simplicity that things start to see some sheer brilliance in design.
From what I experienced, the worlds themselves aren't nearly as alive as you might want them to be, but it's completely made up with some rather smart puzzle design. I kid you not when several times I thought I might be stuck, but really it was just a tricky puzzle that needed me to think outside the box. I was surprised at some of the design, so much so this may be enough to convince be despite the minor gripes.
Now, all of these gripes ahead come with a massive disclaimer. For starters, Nintendo doesn't support preview builds for press on the Wii U, this meant the only way Two Tribes could get me a preview copy of the game was through Steam on my PC. While that isn't normally an issue, the preview build on the PC seemed to lack any sound (which with a game involving bird chirps, you would like to hear how it all sounds. Plus, that means I can't comment on the soundtrack at all). It also has some very noticeable framerate problems—as in, it's so slow you can see it throughout the entire playthrough. It feels like you're moving at a snail's pace as you watch the game skip frame to frame at times.
However, I was assured this was just an issue with the PC build and is not present at all in the Wii U version. I obviously can't verify that off personal experience, so I will take their word for it. Also since I played on the PC I was unable to test out the two big Wii U features, a song book and the TokiDex. I was able to see a press only video of them in action but unfortunately we are not allowed to show you folks.
So, assuming these issues are not present in the final Wii U build, this game is definitely something to look forward to as a nice time waster next month. Setting aside a few bland environments, it appears there is a lot here for such a simple mechanic game. I only hope they price it in a reasonable range. I have emailed them about such things but no response just yet. Based on what I played, I am thinking this is a $9.99 game at best.
Still, it's solid and the fact it stumped me several times is a great sign to the challenge it can present some players, especially in the later stages. Hopefully we will have a full review for you in coming weeks if and when we receive an official Wii U review copy.