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Toki: Going Ape Spit (Genesis) artwork

Toki: Going Ape Spit (Genesis) review

"A cloaked bad guy named Stark made off with your number one booty call, making a monkey out of you, and to add insult to injury, he made a monkey out of you. Naturally, catching up with the withered old fool and killing him and his monster menagerie will make you human again, and return Miho to your large, swollen... arms. "

Man. If you played the NES Toki and think you're good because you made short work of it in like, 30 minutes the first time you played it, here's your reality check. The real Toki is on the Genesis, and it's much, much harder. It's a lot closer to the arcade game visually and thematically, and as I played it, I found myself remembering bits from the NES version and saying, ''oh so that's what that was supposed to be.''

The graphics are sharp and clear, and easily tell the tale of brave young Toki on a vital side-scrolling platformer mission to rescue his abducted girlfriend, Miho from the clutches of evil. A cloaked bad guy named Stark made off with your number one booty call, making a monkey out of you, and to add insult to injury, he made a monkey out of you. Naturally, catching up with the withered old fool and killing him and his monster menagerie will make you human again, and return Miho to your large, swollen... arms.

But this game ain't no picnic. It's nothing like the NES-hosted, sun-filled romp that took up all of one afternoon to clear. No six world mission here - try nine worlds, each comprised of three stages. That's 27 stages, if your arithmetic is shaky.

Toki still makes a good ape. His head is rather too large though, and he's not as cute as he is in the NES version, but his fierceness makes him look closer to his likeness of the arcade original. He's no Donkey Kong, so although he can stomp on them if need be, don't expect him to toss barrels at foes. No, this ape would rather spit.

Not fuming, angry, frothing-rabid-dog-of-the-neighbourhood-off-his-leash-type spitting. This is more the Roberto-Alomar-in-an-umpire's-face-type spitting, the premeditated kind. And it gets the job done. Pound on that attack button to send a stream of phlegm bubbles into enemies. Pick up power ups lying around to increase your spit ball size, to turn your spit balls into a flamethrower, to split your spit into three streams, to give your spit intensity charging capabilities (a la R-Type).

The spit recipients range from spiked cones that rise oddly out of the ground, to little green er, things that sort of shuffle around, to a variety of evil apes of different sizes bent on doing in one of their own. There are spinning, razor backed apes, fish with ape faces, and there are apes driving submarines (do you drive a submarine?). It occurred to me that the apes know you're really a human in ape form, seeing or maybe smelling through your disguise, and that's why they're so pissed off.

I mean, the running shoes you can acquire to make you run faster and jump higher are a dead giveaway to the real monkey menaces - after all, apes don't wear white K-Swiss runners... do they? Speaking of human clothing apparel, the helmet Toki is supposed to get to allow for temporarily invincibility is gone from this port - both the arcade and NES versions had it. Instead, you find lame yellow stars, which have the same effect, but none of the charm.

Toki's theme music is outstanding. I mean, when I first heard it I was supremely impressed. But then I realized that it's used for almost every level in the game. Good music repeated too often dies a horrible, screaming death. Don't you listen to the radio? Sadly, only the underwater swimming level, parts of the last level, and the boss sequences have different background tracks.

And the bosses! Do they ever impress. You confront them at the end of the third stage of each world in a dark room. Belcher belches out letters spelling BURP as his attack. Bashtar is a strangely incomplete amalgamation of beating heart, advancing feet and bashing fists - but nothing else! Other favourites include the Crystal Mammoth and Stark himself.

Toki's main drawbacks are all interlinked. Toki moves too slowly, so the game seems longer than it should be. Worse yet, unlike the NES version that provided you with heart containers for vitality, this time it's one hit and you're dead. And unbelievably, even worse still, is that fact that if you die, you start back at the beginning of the stage. No convenient, considerate check points here. These factors seem unnecessary, and really work hard to mar a fairly memorable platforming experience. A password feature would alleviate this, or even better, the simple inclusion of check points.

Still, Toki is a worthwhile purchase for the platform game enthusiast. If you love 2-D, make sure you give this game a shot, and don't base your purchasing decision on whether or not you enjoyed the NES version (or vice versa, for that matter), because the two games are like night and day. That Toki was about moving quickly, Adventure Island-style, through colourful environs that were often unclear in aspect. This Toki is about moving (too) slowly and (too) carefully towards an exit at the end of each well laid out level to the tune of crisp graphics and catchy (if repetitive) tunes.

Try Toki for the Genesis. It's a different animal.

Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (December 22, 2003)

There was a bio here once. It's gone now.

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