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Game Review #099: Toki: Retrollector Edition (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Stanley B.

Developer: Microids

Publisher: Microids

Category: Arcade, Run and Gun, Platformer

Release Date: 12.04.2018 Price (at time of review): $29.99 (Digital) | $49.99 (Physical)

Buy Toki from the Nintendo eShop here.

Buy Toki: Retrollector Edition from GameStop here.

We live in a time when you can't walk out your front door without stepping into some kind of remake or reboot of any of your beloved childhood favorites. It's been a running joke among Switch owners that a port of basically any title will eventually make its way to the platform. That leads us to today's topic- Toki, specifically the "Retrollector Edition" exclusive to Nintendo Switch, and only available from GameStop.

Going Ape Spit! The hero of our story is Toki, the caveman prince of ancient Ammalerina, an island located in the South Seas. Vookimedlo, a sorcerer, launched a retaliatory attack against Toki, who had banished him from the kingdom for his vile and dangerous experiments. Unfortunately for Toki, his girlfriend Miho also happened to be Vookimedlo's niece. The evil wizard revived the demon Bashtar, and sent him to abduct Miho. Upon Toki's defeat at the hand of Bashtar, Vookimedlo transformed Toki into an ape, just to add insult to injury. Toki escaped deep into the woods, running until he passed out from exhaustion. Vookimedlo unknowingly freed the goddess Bishra upon opening the Gate of Moornah during his conquest, and she sought out Prince Toki for help. With her last bit of power, she revived Toki and empowered him to rescue Miho, defeat Bashtar and Vookimedlo for good, and to find a way to break the curse and return to his human form.

An Ancient Being Found Frozen Solid in a Brick of Ice! Originally released to Japanese arcades in 1989, Toki made the journey to the U.S. in 1990 as a standalone cabinet and became a minor hit. As expected, the game was ported to most consoles of the time, including the Nintendo Entertainment System and Atari Lynx, while the Sega Genesis got a modified version known as Toki: Going Ape Spit. Toki's hype gave way to newer, flashier, trendier 16-bit titles and he was mostly forgotten and rarely spoken of until a remake was announced in 2009. The project fell silent around 2013 and was assumed to be vaporware. That was until April of 2018 when developer Microids announced that it would be a Nintendo Switch exclusive and would release in December of that same year.

The Visuals Are Bananas! Simply put, the hand-drawn graphics for this game are stunning. Each and every character is obnoxiously expressive, each and every background dripping with detail. In fact, that's what drew me in. You'll laugh at the reactions Toki gives throughout your adventure. I've heard the term "Wonderboy Makeover" for some of these Switch ports, and that analogy definitely applies here. In addition to the graphics getting an HD facelift, so too did the soundtrack. Classic tracks from the arcade have been reimagined and fully orchestrated for the 2018 release. While the tunes might not be as iconic as other arcade classics, they do compliment gameplay well and fantastically set the tone for each stage. You can tell that the developers really poured themselves into the art and music for this game with how much it shines.

Time To Monkey Around! A game's worth isn't all looks and music, though. Toki’s controls are tight and responsive. I never felt like any of my deaths were cheap during my play-throughs. This game is hard, true to its quarter-munching arcade roots. Gameplay will be familiar to those who have played Contra, Mega Man, or Metal Slug. There are only 6 levels, and Toki can only take one hit before he dies, so prepare to die a lot. Levels are fairly short, linear, and all end with amazing boss battles.

The battle with Mogulvar is my favorite, he's absolutely disgusting. You have several power-ups to collect, including a football helmet that protects you from overhead attacks, and a rabbit's foot that will boost your speed and jumping abilities. You can also collect different types of shot modifiers, including spread, and multi-shots. Did I mention that Toki attacks by spitting? No? Well, he does, and it's hilarious. He can also jump on his enemy's heads, ala Mario. This game leans on the visuals a bit much for its replayability since the game can be beaten in about a half hour with a little memorization.

Gimme the Goods! As mentioned earlier, the Retrollector Edition is a GameStop exclusive. This is a special collector's edition that comes in a big box adorned with the wonderful updated game art. Inside the box is a comic book, a sticker sheet, two autographed lithographs, a physical copy of the game, and a miniature wooden tabletop arcade cabinet.

A Kong-Sized Bust? I really enjoyed my time with Toki. The sights and sounds are mesmerizing. However, I have to be real... with the Retrollector version retailing for $50, and the eShop version retailing for $30, I'm not sure it's quite worth the asking price. The game feels a bit bare bones since there is only the arcade mode. Seriously, that's it. There isn't even a save feature, so you'll be repeating the same levels over and over. I know the game is short, but I find it incredibly inconvenient that I can't save my game between bus transfers while I'm running around the city.

Maybe if a few extra levels were added, with some new power-ups or something, I'd feel more satisfied. I blame my disappointment on GameStop's website, mostly because the first line in this game's description was "Toki sets off on an all-new adventure!" and I thought we were getting a sequel, or at least some new content. This is a fantastic arcade remake and would have been a bit more palatable at $15-20, where you can still find deeper gameplay in other titles. This is a fun game, so I'd recommend using some of your Nintendo Rewards points to bring that price point down, or just wait for an eShop sale.

Score: 6.5/10

Buy Toki from the Nintendo eShop here.

Buy Toki: Retrollector Edition from GameStop here.

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