SONY PSP REVIEW: TOKOBOT
Tokobot
Innovative
Formation Combat
Linear
Extremely short but priced right

You say Tokobot...I say Karakuri...let's NOT call the whole thing off! by Daemia

December 10, 2005 - Tokobot captures the fun and excitement of the classic platform game with updated technologies. In other words this ain't no 2D side-scroller. If you like mixing your platforming with puzzle, Tokobot just moved to the front of your "To Do" list.

Tokobot is unlike any other platform game. Instead of one single hero, there are several that contribute to a cooperative style of gameplay only hinted at by other platform games thus providing strategy to a funky whacky theme.

Bolt is a young archeologist. He's excavating an ancient sight when he comes across a band of prehistoric robots called Tokobots. These small and seemingly friendly mechanical beings take a liking to Bolt and follow him around like duckling drones. He discovers that he's able to manipulate these bots as group. By arranging them into various formations he can join them together to perform a series of unique moves.

As with every story there is an antagonist for every protagonist. The story is somewhat lame but suffice to say that these Tokobots are very useful for both good and evil purposes. Although you start out with six of the cute little automatons you will want to find more of them before they are harvested for evil purposes. You can use the Tokobots as tools for exploring and uncovering other Tokobots in addition to helping you with platform elements.

Bolt and his bots can use a system called "joint action" to link himself to a group of Tokobots to form a ladder, wings, propeller, hammer, tank and crane. There are three main formations. In the U formation, bots form a line beside you. When you all join together they spin around like a propeller attacking enemies and objects like a spinning top. This formation can also be used to float to safely when launched from a platform.

In the V formation the bots line up directly behind you and once joined can be thrust into the air like a tail and directed to come down like a hammer upon an enemy or object. Another excellent use for this formation is as a ladder. Launching the formation into the air it will latch onto the closest platform and allow you to pull yourself up with the entire "joined" formation in tow.

You will alternate the use of these moves to attack enemies where they're most vulnerable. Some enemies have spikes on top of their heads in which case you'll use the U formation. If they have spikes on the side you'll use the V formation. Don't ask me why they call these formations U and V as they don't literally describe their appearance. Must have been lost in translation.

One move that isn't lost in translation is the circle formation. The bots actually form a circle, all jumping at the same time to compound the stomp damage. Crates and vases are items that also need to be damaged. They contain prehistoric fragments that can help transform the bots into solid objects such as a mega hammer, super tank, crane, cannon or samurai warrior. The crane will help you to move large boxes around to solve puzzles. The mega hammer and samurai come in handy for boss battles. You can do a lot of damage with these forms but the more damage they sustain the sooner they will disappear.

The combat is unique and a lot of fun. Deciding which formations or transformations to use will keep you on your toes. Other puzzles include a bi-level maze in which Bolt must push blocks on one level to make a safe path on the other level. Another requires you to spin the bots in unison so as to act as a cog in a series of gears that will balance a pair of meters. The puzzles aren't very difficult but they're not spelled out for you either.

Platforming is the meat and potatoes of the gameplay. Although the ruins give the game a decided Tomb Raider appearance, there are plenty of platforming diversions to take your mind off of the repetitive scenery of carved stone. There are ramps, conveyors, crushers, booby traps, locked gates, pitfalls and of course, platforms. Utilizing the various formations and applying some puzzle-solving skills will help you get through the eight massive levels. There are boss battles at the end of each level and if you're good you'll receive more formations and transformations also known as Karakuri.

Control access is very straightforward. Just about any level of gamer can get the hang of this in a few short minutes. It's probably one of the best, and certainly most unique, platformer available for the PSP at this time. It's unfortunate there isn't a multi-player mode or an assortment of mini-games to extend the replay value. The game is too short as it is and therefore I can only really recommend this one for a rental. You can always rent it again in a month or so if you can't get it out of your head.

The bots have an endearing quality to them that makes you wish there was more gameplay. I guess the developers live by the creed of "always leave them wanting more." It's true, I do want more. I can hardly wait for a sequel but I do want some online multi-player to go with it.

Tokobots is a great looking game. Colors are bright and the animations are very fluid. The robots are cute and their formations are well displayed by a blend of good camera angles and the 3D perspective of the graphics that properly display height, width and foreground distances, essential for making good platforming jumping and landing decisions. The music is eclectic and fits right in with the unique gameplay.

There may be a lot of good reasons to own a PSP- and now there's one more.

Features:

  • Work with your Tokobots to create a "joint-acton"that will help you through obstacles!
  • You'll begin with only 6 Tokobots, but if you are successful, you can acquire many more to help you on your journey!
  • Achieve big challenges only by strategically utilizing yourself and the Tokobots in new and innovative ways!
  • Follow the Hieroglyphics in the ruins to help you and the Tokobots form the ultimate joint-action move, the Karakuri Combinations, which will morph the Tokobots into large robots
  • Bonus Game Center can be unlocked when the game is completed.

By Daemia
CCC Staff Writer

Rating out of 5
Tokobot (PSP)
4.5
Graphics
The levels are huge and there I didn't detect any slowdown.
4.7
Control
The moves in this game are very unique and are fully supported by a smooth and responsive control system.
3.2
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
There are some rather cutely annoying high-pitched utterances from the bots but the game seems a little too quiet in places.
3.0
Play Value
Lack of multi-player modes and unlockables give this already short game a low replay value score. But it's fun while it lasts!
4.4
Overall Rating - Great -
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
PReview by Vaughn

In case your mom and dad yell at you all the time suggesting that you're wasting your life on the interweb, let me teach you something for a moment. Karakuri is not only the title for an action game by famed Tecmo developer Keisuke Kikuchi - who scared the crap out of you during his tenure on the frightening Fatal Frame series - it's also the name for the Japanese tradition for telling stories with puppets. From there the definition gets a little shady. In certain traditional uses of the word, it refers to puppets, but in modern use, it can mean robots or automated puppets. Either way, automated puppet robots can be scary, especially if they're trying to murder you. And let's face it, if robots learn how annoying you truly are, you can be rest assured they'd do everything in their power to snuff you out like a match.

But relax. These cute little characters in Tecmo's Karakuri don't want to hurt you (at least I don't think they do...). They're totally harmless. Here's where the robots come in. The main character in this super-deformed action puzzler is called Nut, and he's followed around by 8 diminutive robots called juckkles. You'll need to utilize the juckkles in various ways to solve problems that arise as you progress through Karakuri. And then the robots will rip open your flesh and...oh, no wait. That doesn't happen. I'm just a little jumpy. I don't really like automated puppets. I never even liked the Thunderbirds. What kind of LSD was that creator on when he decided to make a TV show out of life-sized puppets? That's some freaky %$#@. I don't want to see life-sized soul-less, blank gazing, puppets walking around all-stilted and herky-jerky like. That's what I think crazy people are thinking they're seeing all the time. Who thought that was entertainment? That's not fun, it's pure unadulterated mental illness in 22 minute blocks.

Let's get back to the preview, shall we? Nut can order the juckkles to do various things to help during the quest. They usually can be found following behind him, waiting for the right moment to bite his jugular and...it's definitely not helping that the Fatal Frame guy has something to do with this game. I just don't trust him. What if you're playing this game and it's all happy and the robots are cute and all of a sudden you turn down a hallway and one of those faceless nurse corpses rushes out and lunges at you? Oh wait...that's Silent Hill. Okay, I'm all right. I was getting those mixed up. Fatal Frame is the ghost game with the Camera Obscura thingamajig, where you capture the souls of the departed when you take their picture.....But robots don't have souls, which means that camera won't do dick all when they decide to run amok. Then what are you going to do? Huh?

Nut can get the juckkles to form three different formations which will be used to solve those problems that I mentioned earlier. Nut can use them as a ladder, a whip, and they can be formed into a giant robot - oh here we go - that is much more powerful and can be used to defeat foes who pose more of a threat.

Will Karakuri ever see the light of day in the US? Not if I can help it. Those damn dirty robots can stay in Japan where they belong. But since I have absolutely no power or clout within the industry there is a good chance this one from Tecmo will be coming your way in late 2005 or early 2006.

 
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System: PSP
Dev: Tecmo
Pub: Tecmo
Release: Dec 2005
Players: 1
Review by Daemia

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best