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Game Profile
PlayStation 2
GENRE: Puzzle
October 24, 2006
 Written by Matt Swider  on March 08, 2007

Review: If this version isn't more popular, then Bolt and his green hat are going to start selling Girl Scout cookies.

Tokobot proved to be the most interesting platform game that nobody played on PlayStation Portable, so Tecmo released an enhanced home console version on PS2. Tokobot Plus: Mysteries of the Karakuri features much-needed camera fixes, bonus levels and more storyline. Although these improvements make the PS2 version the one to own, the entire game is otherwise identical to the original handheld iteration. As a result, Tokobot Plus is most suitable for those who didn't experience its unique platform gameplay the first time around, and means the series can finally go from being played by nobody to being played by somebody.

The anime storyline that surrounds Bolt and his journey through the prehistoric ruins is rather generic. Its cartoon presentation of him and his ancient robot followers is nothing special, but how he interacts with them in the game is innovative. Pressing the square, triangle or circle button sends the robots that shadow Bolt into one of three formations: a straight line behind him, a side-by-side line with him in the middle or a circle around him. Holding R1 causes them to lock hands in preparation for joint actions. These actions are performed by pressing one of the three formation buttons in conjunction with R1 to lock everyone's hands together.

The square button and R1 sends the lineup from behind Bolt to up into the air for a long-reaching, crane-like move or hammer-like attack. Certain platform edges can be latched onto by the furthest robot of this move and the rest of the connected Tokobots allow Bolt to climb up to a new height. Triangle sends the side-by-side formation into a helicopter spin, while circle performs a butt-stomp move after X is pressed to jump. Using the square button to reach higher platforms is reminiscent of the innovative, but also underappreciated Chameleon Twist and Chameleon Twist 2.

Like those two N64 games, Tokobot Plus boasts modest graphics for its generation. The level designs are pretty linear and aren't filled with too much detail. However, while your eyes may become bored, your brain will be hard at work. Puzzle solving is the real challenge here, far greater than any of the hit ?em till they're dead enemies or weakness-prone bosses. Since the puzzles from the PSP version aren't different, owners of the original won't find the bonus puzzles enough reason to purchase Plus.

Overdrive moves help bring about some dynamic action to the in-game presentation with special puzzle-solving and attack techniques. These are picked up in tablet form by defeating bosses and result in transforming the bots into things like a crane, a cannon or a sword-wielding samurai. It doesn't vary the eventually repetitive fighting gameplay too much, but does add something vibrant to look at.

Bottom Line
Tokobot Plus is a smart platform game made up of interesting puzzles and above average mechanics. Its distinctive use of robot formations to progress through levels gives its gameplay a fresh feel from beginning to end. On top of that, Tecmo decided to improve some of the original game's faults instead of blindly porting it to the PS2. While PSP owners won't find enough here to spend even the bargain price of $30, everyone else that desires an interesting platform title should look no further.

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