I learned two very interesting things about To-Fu while playing this game, I’m sure many will argue against me about the legitimacy of either of them but if you give this title a go then you will defend these things about To-fu as well. Number one: if left idling long enough a To-Fu will sneeze. Number two: To-Fu has a skeleton (stumbled upon this by accident when allowing To-Fu to make contact with a laser beam; he/she/it wasn’t very amused).
The To-Fu collection brings together both To-Fu titles that were originally released on iOS last year; To-Fu: The Trials of Chi and To-Fu 2. Now this review is for the Nintendo DS version of the game, however, I have had the opportunity to dabble with the iOS version on an iPhone and have to admit that the Nintendo DS version seems like a hard sell when compared to its iOS counterpart.
Both titles in this collection play exactly the same as each other. A puzzle platformer that starts off simple enough but doesn’t take long to get to masochistic levels of difficulty that I can only compare to the likes of Super Meat Boy.
It is only in brutal level design later on that this title compares to Super Meat Boy. How you navigate them is very different.
As suggested by the name you play as a piece of To-Fu, but no ordinary piece of To-Fu. This To-Fu has a head band. Your objective is to ping this little guy around each level with the ultimate goal being to acquire the “Fortune Kitty”, getting to this ends the level and unlocks the next level. As well as this there are also two other objectives for each level. One involves collecting all the “chi” – blue orbs – and the other objective is to make it to the fortune cookie using a specified amount of moves. In most levels it’s near impossible to acquire all objectives in one run, you will need to play each multiple times to do everything.
Controlling To-Fu is incredibly easy. Simply place your stylus on To-Fu and stretch him in the direction you want to launch him. The game starts off simple enough for the first 20 or so stages. Here you are taught the basics and are gradually introduced to new hazards along the way. It shows great pacing and I really appreciated this learning curve later on when the levels got to be a lot more brutal. Seriously, my Nintendo DS is lucky to still be in one piece it gets that hard.
The hazards range from spinning blades which move around areas of the level, these force you to move fast and employ excellent timing to avoid. Crumbling blocks force you to not stay in the same place for too long. Lasers are another dangerous hazard which also relies on excellent timing to avoid as they only flicker off for a short amount of time so you need to be on your toes to get past them.
There are also features in the game which really help to shake it up a bit. When you land on a glass surface you slide down it. These sections often lead to some kind of trap at the bottom so it’s best to plan your next move as soon as possible. Metal surfaces are used to rebound To-Fu, it’s especially satisfying when you get your angle just right when you hit one so that he keeps rebounding into other metal plates.
There are other hazards and things to interact with but I will leave them to you to stumble upon. As I mentioned all of these things are introduced fairly early on but it’s later in the game when the levels start to use all of them together that things start to get very hard very fast. What adds more pressure is that if you get hit once you are right back to the start, another comparison that it has with the devilish Super Meat Boy.
To-Fu 2 is essentially the same game. The only differences are that it’s a new set of puzzles and also that the visuals and sound have been upgraded. Also To-Fu has his own sound effects in To-Fu 2. For example in the first game when you leave To-Fu idling you will see him sneeze but you won’t hear anything, in the second game he has a sound effect when he goes into this animation and it’s damn cute! Also in To-Fu 2 you are able to customise To-Fu either by changing the colour of his head band or changing him to look like a tiger or a witch. These customisations are completely aesthetic and alter the game play in no way but that still didn’t stop me putting the little guy in an American football helmet.
As I mentioned earlier both of the titles included in this collection are also available on iOS. They are also both initially free on this platform and both allow you to play quite a lot before putting any more money down to buy more levels and outfits for To-Fu. These aren’t very expensive either and when you consider that the sound and visuals are far superior on the iOS than on the DS you can see why I said that the Nintendo DS version would be a hard sell to anyone who owns an iOS device. The only real drawback to the iOS version is that there are advertisements in it even after downloading the full unlock pack.
Overall the To-Fu collection was an awful lot of fun. The puzzles are challenging and give a real sense of achievement later on when you tackle a particularly hard one. The title music will remain stuck in your head long after you put the game down. The controls are incredibly simple and the bright colours are incredibly pleasing to the eye. If you don’t own an iOS device then I would say definitely pick this game up on Nintendo DS. The visuals aren’t as sharp as on iOS but the gameplay is just as tight and responsive. If you do own an iOS device go give it a go, you will not be disappointed.
MLG Rating: 7/10 Platform: DS Release Date: 05/07/2012
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a physical copy of To-Fu Collection by the promoter for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on an 3DS. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.