Cute, cartoon coin-ops are always good fun to play and Toki is no exception. Whizzing a hunched-up little ape around various colourful areas is great for a laugh or two!
The plot of the game begins with a young couple, living happily among the leaves and flowers of a peaceful jungle. Toki is a brave warrior. His deeds are the stuff of legend, made immortal by the songsmiths of the surrounding tribes. His girlfriend, Miho, is also famous. Her beauty attracting admirers from many lands.
Everyone in the area knows of Toki's heroic exploits, one person in particular - the evil Bashtar. He is jealous of the mighty warrior and wishes to steal Miho away for himself. One day, as Miho and Toki are wandering through the jungle, Bashtar sends one of his demonic manifestations, in the form of a gigantic hand, to kidnap the fair Miho. As the hand ascends the trees towards Bashtar's mountaintop hide away, Toki rushes forward to rescue her. But Bashtar has one more trick up his sleeve...
As Toki gets close to grabbing the hand, Bashtar appears and unleashes a bolt of blue fire. As soon as the flame touches the brave hero, he begins to change shape, becoming a lowly Neanderthal ape!
This little mishap isn't enough to stop Toki though. Oh no! He is determined to battle on and defeat Bashtar, releasing Miho from the clutches of the evil wizard.
You take control of Toki in his multi-stage quest. You begin on the outskirts of the jungle near the entrance to the lower caves of Bashtar's fortress. You are armed with a little magic of your own - the ability to spit small fireballs at your enemies. You must fight through the hordes of Bashtar's devilish minions, either stamping on them or shooting them.
Occasionally, you will find tokens either lying around the scenery or dropped by killed creatures. When you pick these up, Toki's power is temporarily increased, allowing him to bash through enemies with alacrity.
At the end of each section, a hefty guardian appears. These move around absorbing shots and flinging smaller creatures at you. To overcome these beasties, you must shoot them until their energy bar (at the bottom of the screen) is empty, at which point you can move onto the next area of Bashtar's domain.
Ocean France have managed to grasp just the right graphical feel of the Toki coin-op, retaining the colourful appearance and jolly animation that made the original such a hit. Unfortunately, the sound doesn't really match up to the high-quality visuals. The music is overly twee and rather tinny to boot, while the effects are much too wimpy to add any real sort of an atmosphere.
The gameplay seems to have missed the mark a little too, introducing glitches in the control method and a few anomalies in the way enemies appear and react. There are times when enemies start doing things they are not supposed to, sending the player into walls of confusion and frustration.
At some points in the game, some serious quirks pop up which are most distressing. The game seems to forget where the restart points throughout the levels are supposed to be, putting you back beyond the last restart reached, it sometimes put s you further on than where you died!
The most disturbing foible is the game seems to crash with alarming regularity. This is particularly galling if you just managed to get to a point you've been battling to reach for the past hour.
These annoying glitches could easily have been put right with a little more playtesting, and the fact that they are there at all means that the game loses some of the appeal of the arcade original. This is a shame, since if as much care had been taken with programming the gameplay as has been lavished on the pretty graphics, then Toki would have been a corking little platform game. As it stands it's just a pretty good conversion.