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Tokobot PSP

Published by Take Two Interactive
Developed by Tecmo
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £34.99

Tokobot, an introduction.

Whilst the Nintendo DS game catalogue seems to grow stronger by the month the PSP game catalogue doesn't really have that many great games. One of the genres that is in desperate need of a quality title is the platform game genre. There have been a few games with platforming elements so far but none have really impressed. Even the Prince of Persia title, Prince of Persia: Revelations was a disappointment. Here we have Tokobot from Tecmo, a game that at the very least promises to be different.

What's the game about?

Long ago there was a technologically advanced civilization in Moritari that were known as the Karakuri. However, despite their impressive knowledge and inventions their civilization eventually perished. Thousands of years later a new civilization emerged and while they weren't as advanced as the Moritari they were able to construct Karakuri technology using vapour and gears. Bolt, a new agent for Canewood's Lab, a research lab, discovered some rare Karakuri Robots. The type of Karakuri Robots he found were known as Tokobots. You'll play as a 14 year old boy called Bolt. Bolt and the Tokobots head out to research the Moritari ruins in what is essentially a single player action platform game with a few puzzles thrown in for good measure.

What's good about the game?

Disappointingly quite a lot of games that have appeared on the PSP have simply been cut down versions of games that have appeared on the PlayStation 2. Some of these have worked, some of them haven't, but thankfully Tokobot is a completely original game. As we've already stated the game is a mix of action and platforming games. You'll also have to contend with some puzzles too. Most of these are actually quite enjoyable although there are a few that are slightly annoying. The real difference with Tokobot is that Bolt has the Tokobots with him at all times and he has to make use of them at all times. When the game begins Bolt has six Tokobots at his disposal but at the game progresses he finds more to assist him.

So what does Bolt do with the Tokobots then? Well to begin with Bolt has a choice of three formations for his small band of Tokobots. The formations are called Circle, V and U. The Circle formation, as you might expect, sees the Tokobots forming a circle around Bolt. Rather misleadingly though the V formation is when the Tokobots stand in a straight line behind Bolt and the U formation is when Bolt and the Tokobots form a line with Bolt being in the centre. Whilst the formations are useful in themselves they also enable jointing. Jointing (performed by keeping the R button pressed down) allows Bolt and the Tokobots to link and thus perform a variety of functions. Throw, spin, stamp, toss, push, pull, lift and other actions can be performed whilst jointing and pressing other buttons. This allows you to use the Tokobots as a ladder, weapon and many other things. You can even collect Karakuri parts during the game that will allow you to unlock extra Tokobot abilities and Karakuri Combinations (which are essentially temporary transformations, into items such as the Samurai Hover, Mega-Hammer and Super Tank etc., that your Tokobots can do).

What's not so good about the game?

Tokobot is a good game but there are several aspects of the game that may deter some people. Those expecting challenging combat in the game will be disappointed. The minor battles are very easy and even the boss fights aren't really that challenging. The camera isn't the best we've seen to be fair and it's not always possible to see where you need to jump to. The pace of the game is fairly slow so if you're the kind of gamer that likes everything to move along at a quick pace you may be disappointed. It's fair to say the game gets repetitive fairly quickly too, not only in the tasks you have to perform but also with the look and design of the various levels which all begin to look alike after a while. Whilst the game's story isn't particularly bad it could have been a lot better and more interesting although in fairness it's not a genre that requires a deep and engrossing story.

How does it look?

The artwork in Tokobot is simply beautiful and is easily some of the best seen to date on a handheld console. The character art used in the dialogue sequences is particularly impressive. The games graphics are actually quite good and it makes a change to play a PSP game of this nature where the frame rate doesn't take any obvious dips. Loading times are good too, which is certainly welcome. The games levels are guilty of looking similar, as we mentioned earlier, but on the whole the game is visually impressive.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

Deaf gamers won't have any problems with Tokobot. In fact there is hardly any speech in the game and all of the dialogue is delivered in text. Tutorial messages are shown in text and in addition to these tutorial messages that appear you'll also have communications from Ruby, Canewood Lab's transmission operator, which are also in text which is rather helpful as her advice is very useful. Back at the Canewood Lab you'll be able to check the Enemy Encyclopedia and access the Tokobots' Vault for information, amongst other things. During the game you can also recall the text instructions for the various moves, which is useful. The game manual has been well written and uses a lot of screenshots along with a minimal amount of text to convey its instructions. 

Final thoughts.

In theory at least Tokobot should have been a truly memorable game but the end result doesn't quite turn out that way. The interaction between Bolt and the Tokobots has been very nicely done and for the most part it's enjoyable. However, the combat seems too easy, the puzzles can occasionally be irritating and the camera control is not what it should be. When you add to this a rather lacklustre story you have a game that is definitely not as good as it should have been. With that said however it's still the best platformer on the PSP to date and the game is still quite enjoyable despite its deficiencies.

Overall Game Rating: 6.9/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

(Click the letter or here for details)

Tokobot is an enjoyable game but because of a few problems it's prevented from being anything special. It's the best platform game on the PSP to date but given the paucity of platform games on offer on the PSP that's not as a big a compliment as it might seem.