Toricky is not your flight of fancy
Running left and right has been a staple of gaming since the earliest platformers. Still, every once a while, somebody comes up with a different control scheme in an attempt to add some freshness to a tried-and-true formula. Such is the case with the bird-themed platformer named Toricky, but does it plant the seeds or greatness or it is simply for the birds?
The game places players in the role of the titular Toricky, a smart-talking green bird with pilot goggles and unbelievably big feet. One day he’s flying along in his house – which also doubles as a helicopter – and is bored out of his skull. He receives a telepathic message from a mysterious source, entreating him to head to on the enigmatic Crystar Palace in order to save it. Before he can make sense of things, he and his companion Momo encounter an armada of pigs in planes who proceed to shoot them down without so much as a warning. Toricky and Momo make a hasty landing at the entrance of the palace, but fortunately are none the worse for wear. Thrilled at the prospect of adventure, Toricky sets off to find answers and extract revenge on the hostile swine. And before you ask, the answer is “yes”: this is indeed another game where birds and pigs are adversaries.
Once in the game proper, you’ll find yourself unrestricted by gravity. Being a bird, Toricky flies around the stages without ever getting tired from flapping his wings. The experience bears a passing resemblance to assorted 8-direction platformers of old, like Ecco the Dolphin and the more recent shmup hybrid that was Rive. Gameplay consists of finding little imprisoned yellow orbs and returning them to the house-copter. Along the way, the pig army is making sure your life is miserable, but you can pick up and drop boxes on them to defeat them. Also, levels are littered with fruit which help to restore health points.
On paper, it seems like it could all come together very well, but I’m sorry to say that this one bounced off me pretty hard. Right from the start, it’s apparent that the control is going to be your biggest challenge. It’s not that moving Toricky in 8 directions is a problem; it’s that the control scheme is deliberately imprecise. Instead of responding accurately to input, our winged protagonist only moves in an approximations direction. In addition, he maintains momentum even after a key or button has been released, meaning he’s seldom headed where you’re steering him. It’s all very frustrating and ends up being a chore, as Toricky frequently crashes into an obstacle or enemy projectile.
The game also comes with its share of glitches and technical annoyances. I played on two different devices with vastly different hardware, and in both cases assorted problems arose. Sometimes, Toricky doesn’t pick up boxes, which is supposed to be automatically triggered whenever he hovers above them. Other times, dropping boxes on enemies doesn’t damage them. It seems to be luck of the draw as to whether or not a foe will succumb to your attack. Sometimes, enemies inexplicably end up killing themselves by simply running mindlessly into a stack of crates. Then there’s issues with the audio and graphics, the latter of which sometimes lags and the former occasionally flickering garbage on the screen, producing white lines and after shadows. It all feels like it could do with some pretty significant play-testing, to say nothing of bug testing.
It’s a pity too, because there’s a lot of potential here. The central ideas are decent, the soundtrack is upbeat, and the visuals are very bright and colorful. There’s a really strong kawaii vibe going on here, complete with Japanese voice acting and sound effects represented visually with kanji. Watching a video of gameplay invokes a strong feeling of retro platforming goodness, and there’s a sense that this could have an evolved form of a title on the old Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo systems. Updates are released regularly so there’s a chance this issues might be fixed in the foreseeable future.
A lot of love went into Toricky. That much is evident. But despite the effort, it’s very difficult for us to recommend this game to anybody. It’s simply not very fun to play, from its technical issues to its flawed and counter-intuitive control scheme. Perhaps these issues will be addressed in upcoming patches, but as it stands, it’s in no state to be an enjoyable experience. If you’re still keen on giving it a go, fly on over here to pick up your own copy.
Final Verdict: 2/5
Available on: PC (reviewed); Publisher: OtakuMaker.com ; Developer: Atelier Melon-Kissa ; Players: single-player. ; Released: 14 January, 2017.
Full disclosure: this review is based on a review code of Toricky given to Hey Poor Player by the publisher.