Genre: Platformer Developer: Santos Publisher: Sega Enterprises Players: 1 Released: 1991
It seems to be a current trend to mock early Genesis games and say how bad they were, despite the fact that, really, they were damn fine games. Altered Beast is one such example, and in a not-so-unexpected twist, Toki: Going Ape Spit is another.
The plot is charmingly simple: Toki and his girlfriend are out walking when an evil tyke kidnaps her and turns him into a monkey. Don’t you just hate it when that happens? Toki, naturally, is upset, so he gets his simian ass in gear and goes off to rescue his missus.
What this translates to in game terms is a pseudo-port of the classic platform arcade game (Editor’s note: The NES got the real port). Toki can walk, jump, and spit his way through several (I forget the exact number, but there are a fair few) levels on his quest, before reaching the big bad for a showdown. I know what you’re thinking, but what Toki lacks in originality, it makes up for in playability.
Toki’s main form of attack is spitting on his foes. Throughout the levels, he can collect different types of spit, such as three way spit, which inflict greater damage than the standard spit. Yes, this sounds very juvenile, but it makes perfect sense in the context of the game.
The graphics in this game are reminiscent of virtually any early Genesis game. The backgrounds are limited and the foregrounds are bland, although the characters themselves are surprisingly well animated. Toki moves painfully slowly in comparison to modern games (it’s like playing the original Tomb Raider right after playing Tomb Raider Chronicles), although within five minutes you have become accustomed to this and are so involved in the game that it doesn’t seem to matter anyway.
The levels contain few surprises: you have the left-to-right stages, the down-to-up stages, the up-to-down stages and the obligatory underwater stages, and it’s no surprise to find that the first stage is set in a jungle environment – what is it with platform games and starting somewhere green anyway? – but again, it doesn’t seem to matter while you’re playing the game as you get so involved.
The music is perfectly suited to the game, and several tunes are really quite memorable (I haven’t played the game for two or three months, but I decided to write this review after I found myself humming the stage one music this morning), although ultimately outclassed by later games on the Genesis.
That phrase pretty much sums up the Toki experience, actually. Toki is an under-appreciated gem that is still very enjoyable today, although ultimately outclassed by later offerings.
SCORE: 7 out of 10