I have to admit that I was a bit infuriated when the remake of Toki for Nintendo Switch had finally come out. Not because there’s anything wrong with the choice of game, the quality of the remake or God forbids, with the original Toki itself which was a superb little arcade whose qualities had only become apparent over the years. No, the thing that aggravated me was the fact that most reviewers implied that the game is totally obscure (of course, it isn’t), which automatically also hints that it isn’t worthy of the second chance it has been granted. Ah, just how far will the insolence and lack of knowledge take us? Well, for me this beloved jungle saga of the buff Tarzan-like tribesman turned ape and his quest to save his girlfriend from the clutches of a terrifying witch doctor Vookimedlo was always somewhere in the special gone-but-not-forgotten category, and the fact that it’s been resurrected by indie developer Golgoth Studio and publisher Microids on the Nintendo Switch only means that the new generations will finally have the opportunity to sample this retro classic arcade in the glorious new, up-to-date getup.
As you’ve might’ve guessed by this introduction, the story of Toki isn’t exactly the Nobel Prize award-worthy material, just as its protagonist isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. However, instead of brains, he was at least amply gifted with brawns and perfectly chiseled hero’s physique. He also had another prized possession – his fiancée Miho (although, judging by his stadium of refinement, mate would be the more appropriate term), which had attracted many envious eyes with her enticing Playboy bunny look. The next thing you know, the nifty little tease was kidnapped by maleficent shaman Vookimedlo, and poor Toki was transformed in the subhuman simian form of a simple ape, of the species known as Geeshergam, subservient to the devious witch doctor. Thankfully, his destiny wasn’t to be a mindless slave for all eternity doing simple jungle errands while Vookimedlo is taking advantage of his ill-fated fiancé in various deviant ways – Toki had somehow managed to regain his sanity and intelligence, so he had gathered his wits (the little he had available, at least) and courage, put on his football helmet (!) and started spitting various deadly projectiles on his enemies made of his (apparently) highly caustic saliva.
The first thing you’ll undoubtedly notice is how great the game looks. Toki for Nintendo Switch can only be described as a full, deluxe, super-duper remake since its every aspect down to the minutest detail was artistically redesigned to pleasingly meet the modern graphics standards. Not that anything was wrong with the visuals of the original, mind you – they still look great, but this overhaul was necessary to attract the new audience, of that even the most hardcore, retro fans must be aware. Besides, what’s the point of porting something if you’re just going to reuse old look? The graphical presentation is, of course, fully based on the visuals and the design of the original, and it still maintains the familiar identity of the original Toki. However, now you’ll also can’t fail to notice influences of Manga and Anime style in the presentation. That’s because famous French illustrator, designer and comic book artist (who, among other things, worked on famous manga cartoon Captain Harlock, as well Toki for Amiga) were engaged on this project as a lead designer, drawing everything you’ll see by hand.
As for the gameplay itself, your travels through this primitive, volcanic world of jungles, waterfalls, caverns, cliffs, and precipices will be much like it was in the original. As a primate with an unusual set of abilities, you’ll move through this environment by walking, jumping, swimming and climbing, dealing with Geeshergam monkey servants of the evil voodoo shaman Vookimedlo and other grotesque creatures that stand in your way by raining your deadly spittle all over them. However, powder and paint of this new version, can’t hide the fact that underneath all that visual splendor hides that same old hardcore retro mentality, which members of the older generation of gamers will certainly wholeheartedly salute, but gentle modern-day younglings might find a bit inconvenient in more ways than one. First of all, like most other games with roots in the 8-bit and 16-bit world, this new Toki also suffers from a certain lack of comfort. That’s why don’t expect some advanced methods of precise aiming and shooting, because you’ll basically be able to hurtle your dribble only in three main directions (forwards, upwards and diagonally). Also, although the game is relatively short, as was the case with most retro arcades, it will make lesser the gamers sweat and shriek in frustration and fear because of its difficulty and all the sneaky old-time tricks it’ll try in the attempt to do you in. Nevertheless, if you like arcades and platformers, Toki is the game you have to try: it’s visually gorgeous, wacky and engaging in the ways most games nowadays could dream of. Sure, it is a bit difficult, but so what? This game will make the manly man out of you, just as it’ll make Toki the ape into a man again. What more you could wish for?