Upon booting the game, what's immediately apparent is the lack of any formal "main menu" like would be expect from any game. Toki Tori 2 takes no shortcut to put people right into the action and, as was mentioned in the aforementioned interview last year, there is literally no text to explain what to do in the game. Rather, the player is put in control of Toki Tori right off the bat and given the freedom to move around using either the left analogue stick or the D-Pad. It is up to the player to figure out the controls alone, which is a very old school approach. Even the digital user's manual says "We'll tell you what buttons to use, you do the rest!" and gives very little information about what's going on in the game. Other than moving left or right, and going up or down ladders like in the previous game, Toki Tori can now whistle... and stomp. Whistling allows for short series of notes to be composed, which can have various effects... and stomping shakes the whole screen like any Mario fan would expect from the plumber when he pounds the ground with his bum. These are the only two actions he can perform, and there are no limited number of uses for them this time.
What's peculiar about it, and makes these somewhat limited possibilities of action into much more than what they appear to be, is how the environment and creatures that inhabit it react to these two actions, and the possibilities are aplenty here!
Each creature reacts differently to them and the little chick has to... use these abilities to his advantage to make the other living things in the universe of Toki Tori do his bidding, helping him to progress on his quest. A quest for what, though? As the developer itself says, it's up to gamers to discover it.
Toki Tori explores this side-scrolling world divided into sections at a leisurely pace, collecting little yellow 'thingies' that are never given a name but look like little golden wings of an Inca condor statue like those that play the role of checkpoints in the game. Their use isn't immediately apparent but it looks like they all need to be found. Some are purposely put in hard to reach places, requiring players to find out how to best use their surroundings and the creatures around them to collect it. Exploration, as was taunted by Two Tribes in past communication on the project, is indeed very much like what would be expected from a Metroidvania type of game... Except here, Toki Tori's move set or arsenal never upgrades, but rather players may find certain places that seem to be impossible to reach straight away...
However, figuring out how to reach may only become apparent later on as new ways of exploiting the limited existing move set are uncovered during exploration. This original take on the formula, which in fact is very much how the learning curve worked in the background of the original Toki Tori, takes all by surprise in a very good way.
Actually, it also harks back to the original in a way that makes a veteran fan of its precursor growl with pleasure at how cleverly they managed to reincorporate this pleasant aspect of things from the first game in such a clever way that it still feels fresh. The more exploration takes place, the more things start to make sense. Toki Tori keeps reaching new places, encountering increasingly difficult puzzles along the road, and activating weird statues that seem to all need activating before whatever it is that awaits the chick at the end of the game becomes available for players to complete.
There is a downside to all this, though...The fact that what it is exactly that needs to be achieved is not quite apparent may well make it difficult to get into for those who are not hooked right away by the cleverness of the puzzles and the careful attention to detail in Toki Tori 2's presentation. A demo should definitely be made available for people to try out the formula and see if it meets their taste. It should, for any fan of the puzzle genre anyway, but it is easy to imagine it being hard to get into for certain more exigent people. It will certainly appeal to old school fans who like to figure things out on their own, but more modern gamers may be left wanting more. It shouldn't be dismissed for that, though, definitely.
In the presentation stakes it isn't short of magnificence either. The 720p display running at 60fps - presenting a lively animated little world, despite being merely made of 2D tiles and sprites - comes alive in a delightful manner.
Certain puzzles even make use of light sources, changing the projected shadows in fantastic ways. Being able to read on Toki Tori's or even certain creatures' faces that they are clearly freaking out when they are in dark places and other nice little details like that all combine to make Toki Tori 2 an extraordinarily well presented game, beyond its initially basic 2D presentation. Sound isn't short of amazing either; Sonic Picnic is back with more music goodness that plays more on the "ambient" kind of music this time around. In fact, some tracks sounded a bit similar to Rayman Origins, which is an excellent game to be compared to.
The level editor available to PC players owning the Steam version was sadly nowhere to be found in the build Cubed3 reviewed. This is said to become available at a later date through an update, along with, hopefully, being available to share those created levels directly on Miiverse. What remains in terms of bonus is the announced ability to snap pictures of the game's creatures, using the GamePad like a camera, adding them to a photo album that lists all those already found, perhaps ultimately unlocking some more bonus content.