Tokobot Plus: Mysteries of the Karakuri PlayStation 2
Published by Take Two Interactive
Developed by Tecmo
Release Date: Out Now
Last year we reviewed Tokobot for the PSP and it's fair to say that it was one of the more interesting titles we've seen on the PSP to date. Essentially Tokobot was a platform game, although it wasn't a traditional platform game. On the whole we quite liked Tokobot but the game had its fair share of problems that prevented it from being a memorable experience. The camera was a little fiddly and the difficulty level was a little too low to pose any real kind of challenge. However, the game's idea was a sound one and showed potential. Tokobot Plus: Mysteries of the Karakuri sees the game move to the PlayStation 2 although it would be incorrect to label this as a port. Chunks of the game have been reworked and it definitely feels more suited to the PlayStation 2 than the PSP.
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 was known as Tokobots. You'll play as a 14 year old boy called Bolt. Bolt and the Tokobots head out to explore the Moritari ruins in what is essentially a single player action platform game with a few puzzles thrown in for good measure.
Essentially Tokobot Plus is the same story as the game that appeared on the PSP last year. There are some new additions however and these do improve the experience somewhat. New overdrive attacks have been added. You can now upgrade the power of the Tokobot attacks and Bolt's life bar. There are 10 new stages that were especially created for the PlayStation 2 version. A treasure hunting mini-game has been added. New characters have been added and generally the story seems to have been fleshed out somewhat. There are now 16 boss enemies (the PSP version had 10). The controls have been reworked slightly to suit the PlayStation 2 controller and they feel more comfortable than on the PSP version. One of the things we said about the PSP version is that the combat was a little easy. This is still true of the PlayStation 2 version although the challenge does seem to increase nicely as you play through the game.
Graphically the game looks slightly better on the PlayStation; it was actually quite impressive on the PSP though. The visuals here look a little sharper and you don't have to contend with the poor response time of the PSP LCD screen. The camera could be problematic at times and not give you an ideal view on the PSP version, so it has been altered somewhat. It's still not perfect though but it's an improvement on the PSP version. Once again extensive use has been made of anime style artwork for character portraits during the dialogue and it really fits in well with the nature of the game.
There is a lot more speech in Tokobot Plus than in Tokobot but all of the dialogue remains subtitled so it's not problematic for deaf gamers. 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 Encyclopaedia 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. Once again the game manual has been well written and uses a lot of screenshots along with a minimal amount of text to convey its instructions.
On the whole Tokobot Plus: Mysteries of the Karakuri is a slightly improved version of Tokobot that appeared on the PSP last year. The added features are certainly worthwhile and help to make Tokobot Plus a better game, albeit not much of a better game. If you haven't yet played the game and own a PSP and a PlayStation 2 then Tokobot Plus is definitely the game to go for. However if you've played Tokobot then it's difficult to recommend Tokobot Plus unless you really enjoyed Tokobot and don't mind paying out again for a similar, if slightly enhanced experience.
If you haven't played Tokobot yet this is definitely the version to go for because the improvement and additions do improve the experience somewhat. However there's probably not enough to entice those who have played through the PSP game.