Puzzle platformers are in abundance today with indie developers making them left, right and centre. To-Fu Collection combines two very popular touch screen platform puzzlers and gives gamers extras to boot. However, is this enough to make the game worth buying?
To-Fu Collection puts players in the position of a slab of tofu; this tofu wants to master the art of 'To-Fu' to become a master. To do this, it has to collect balls of chi by stretching, sticking and sliding through more than 100 trials in each game. Each level comes with a new set of obstacles that are usually placed to make the To-Fu's life a living hell, the first you come across is spikes, then there is circular saws, and, finally, lasers -- these are usually combined to give very little room for error and one hit causes death for our little meat replacement friend.
There are also various surfaces to deal with; in Trials of the Chi it starts with wood, which To-Fu sticks to as standard, then glass, which makes it slide downwards. Next is metal, which it bounces off at angles to get where the player wants, and, lastly, stone blocks, which crumble within seconds of being touched. After this there are switches that can perform various actions such as removing an obstacle or turning a platform around. These are usually timed to add a bit more haste to completing the level. Additionally, there are coloured teleports, which send To-Fu to the other half of the teleport, and in different positions depending on how it was entered. All of these add a modicum of strategy and changes the way gamers think about getting through each level.
There is a small learning curve with each level of To-Fu Collection getting harder, or staying at the same difficulty -- although it never gets impossibly hard. The objective of each level is to collect all the balls of Chi and bonus points are given for finishing the level in a stated amount of moves, although a lot of the time it's not possible to do both. The game also has built-in achievements for both To-Fu: The Trials of the Chi and To-Fu 2, and getting these isn't easy since they sometimes involve the likes of destroying all the crumbling blocks or completing a set of levels. The achievements can add to the longevity of the game, however, if you are not a completionist then you probably won't bother.
Another gameplay mechanic not mentioned earlier is the 'Golden To-Fu;' this is a mechanic that comes into play if a level is found to be too hard. It activates after failing the level a couple of times, and it can be seen as cheating since it completes the level in one move, collecting the entire amount of Chi along the way. Of course, all of the achievements cannot be earned that way since some count on the player making mistakes, and it can take all the fun from figuring out how to complete a level.
To-Fu 2 adds more mechanics to the mix with metal platforms, rebound blocks and metal corners to use to get through the level. There is also the 'Super Ping,' which is performed by stretching To-Fu until it glows blue and then releasing it for much faster movement; To-Fu can also break through wooden beams by using this. There are also ways of dressing To-Fu up; these include different belts, a few hats/helmets and some body paint, all of which are paid DLC if the game is bought elsewhere, but don't really add anything in terms of gameplay. These are accessed via the Dojo in the extras menu. Another extra is the Time Trial mode, which gives a small time limit to collect as much Chi as possible in the Dojo, with the player collecting small clocks that appear for a couple of seconds at a time to add five seconds to your own clock -- run out of time and a high score is given that must be beaten next time.
That's something that might come up as a tricky point when deciding whether to purchase the game. Both games are available on mobile platforms for free, although the Golden To-Fu and costumes are all paid DLC. However, it may be easier to buy this To-Fu Collection on DS due to everything being in one place, but it could also depend on how much money gamers are willing to spend. The mobile games also now come with more levels. It really is a tough choice, given the £14.99 price tag for this release.
Trials of the Chi has 40 bonus levels to complete after becoming a Chi Master, but these can be accessed at any time through the game rather than unlocking upon completion. To-Fu 2 has Halloween levels where extra costumes can be unlocked, albeit with some being hard to tell exactly what they are due to the size of the screen. The game isn't a great looking; it's simple, with each level looking similar to the last merely with different backgrounds. The levels do their job, but it's nothing you will notice unless you are a person who gets bored when there isn't much change in aesthetics. Also, the music can also get quite boring since it's pretty much the same tune on each level.
Nigh on perfect gameplay, with the stylus controls providing excellent precision. The Golden To-Fu mode can seem a bit of a copout, though.
This isn't pushing the DS in any way, and the levels look very similar to each other. To-Fu's facial expressions are noticeable, but some costumes are hard to distinguish.
The music sounds nice at first, but can get boring and unnoticeable after a couple of levels. Sound effects mainly rely on To-Fu, with stretching or letting out a big sigh when it's failed a test. Not much variation, in all honesty.
This all really depends on different points of view. If this can be found at a very cheap price and having the two games together on one physical cartridge is preferred then add a few points to the 'Value.' However, if you see this as something that can just be downloaded for free on a mobile handset, and the DLC is not of interest, then deduct several. Either way, this has more than 200 levels, with plenty of fun to be had.
To-Fu Collection is a very fun and addictive game that can be played for hours at a time. There can be quite a bit of challenge in completing every level with the entire amount of Chi collected and within the move limit, with achievements adding more to the trial. There is loads of value to the collection when keeping that in mind. However, since both games without the DLC extras are available for free on mobiles, and with the DLC being quite cheap itself, it may be difficult to justify recommending this to people with Smartphones. Want both action puzzle games in one handy package? Be sure to give this more than a second look.