Each Vintage Vault review looks at the games of our past and decides whether they stand the test of time. If they do they become Vaulted and gain eternal protection from The Great Eye – Loganius. If they fail they get thrown in The Pixel Pit and receive eternal damnation. Let the trials begin.
With tongue-in-cheek humour, platforming elements, jungle-styled backdrops and an evil wizard to defeat, Toki definitely had an epic mix of everything. Typical for games of its age it comprised of some chunky graphics, colourful settings and an overly generic gameplay style, but is it enough to make the cut?
“Free Miho and re-gain [your] manhood”
Toki was released in arcades in Japan in 1989. It was published by TAD Corporation before the American market had their version published by Fabtek. The game revolves around a tribesman man named Toki, which was known in some of the Japanese versions and other ports as JuJu. A witch-doctor/wizard named Vookimedlo kidnaps suitor and tribesman princess Miho. Vookimedlo then casts a spell on the island folk, turning them into various animals.
Toki is transformed into a Geeshergam, an ape-like minion of the shaman himself, whilst resembling more of a gorilla. He must travel across the various levels to save the princess, defeat the evil shaman and put an end to this curse.
The game was ported several times, and it was the Amiga version which I was lucky enough to play. The port was very faithful to the original arcade variant and considering the amount of failed conversions of games from this era it is a rather successful game to port. The scenery of the originals is bright and vibrant with some amazing colour palettes being used.
“I am your father!”
The character designs seem original enough, whilst not being overly dramatic. Considering the popularity of Donkey Kong Country it was a wonder that Toki has never been looked at as the father of this monkey-like platforming style. The sprites are fresh and colourful and bring a true sense of the arcade to home consoles and computers.
Soundwise the game harnesses true chiptune media which was composed by Yukihiko Kitahara – a composer only known for Toki and Last Mission which was released three year prior. Considering this, the soundtrack is suprinsingly great, and really backs up the gameplay fluidly.
Coin-guzzling good fun
If you have played any platform game before then the dynamics are simple enough for you to pick up and play. Toki is able to shoot projectiles from his mouth towards enemies, jump and move as standard. Giving the easy move-set that is transposed direct from the arcade makes the game feel familiar in style.
One issue people do have with the game however is the difficulty. If Toki is hit once, you die. There are several elements that have been designed with the levels to catch you out the first time too – highlighting the premise of the original arcade game wanting you to put more money in their pockets per continue. The game is pixel-perfect in this execution too, with just a slight brush of an enemy meaning sudden death.
The difficulty does mean that boss fights are incredibly difficult. They take many hits to defeat and again you cannot get touched once or you lose a life. Another issue comes with losing all your lives to a boss, meaning you have to start the entire level over again. This kind of frustration can be overwhelming but if mastered the game is not actually that long and only covers six levels.
More than monkey-business
Overall the game is a fantastic echo of the arcade years that saw many ports coming into the household. The graphics are a joy and the soundtrack is a splendid addition to create the full experience. The game may appear to be very linear but it can be an incredible fun ride to experience.
Giving the amount of ports on classic consoles and now a remastered version on more modern consoles it is safe to say that this game truly has stood the test of time. It may not be the most original game in the world, but it is none-the-less worthy of a place within The Vintage Vault as it just tips over the required score to enter.