The Basics: The PlayStation Portable may be living it up with an veritable selection of UMD movies and ports of existing franchises, but what's up with the lack of original gaming content? If Sony's multimedia gadget truly hopes to grow its audience (and maintain the current customer base), then the developers need to take a few more risks to think outside the box and try something new. Apparently, companies like Tecmo are in agreement, as evidenced by their upcoming release set to release this holiday season.
Up till now, I personally knew little about the title. Our very own James had mentioned it once in casual conversation, and right from the moment he uttered the word, "Tokobot", I honestly wasn't sure what to make of the game. Then it occurred to me that it had to have some sort of puzzle theme tied into it, because it's one of his most popular genres.
Well, it turns out I was right, more or less. Tokobot is a strategy action game developed with the simple intentions of offering PSP gamers something that's unique and enjoyable for players of all skill types. The game puts you in the role of a young boy named Bolt, an agent of a research facility exploring ancient ruins. During his trip, Bolt encounters a half dozen robots, called "Tokobots", who end up assisting him in overcoming multiple obstacles and challenges.
Under Bolt's command, you can toggle the formation of the Tokobots at the press of a button. Initially, you'll only have the option to form certain shapes, including a ladder that will help Bolt climb to new heights or a propeller to fly over huge voids in the terrain. Along the way, players can collect additional Tokobots which will ultimately open up possibilities to form more complex combos known as the "Karakuri Combination" -- transforming the micro bots into a super, advanced machines. Those of you that grew up with The Transformers should get a kick out of the Tokobots combining into various forms like an armored knight, a catapult and a tank. Each will prove particularly useful when facing off against big bosses or dealing with mind-bending puzzles.
What do we think? Well, that's an easy one – Tokobot is awesome. Regardless what of your age type or general interest, this is the type of game that literally anyone can enjoy. I did experience a few camera issues where parts of the background ended up getting in the way. Even with the inclusion of a camera reset button, it seems this area still needs a bit of tweaking. There's also a few additional items and tools that Bolt and his robotic allies can make use of. Unfortunately, the build provided for preview purposes was in Japanese and thus, I can't elaborate on the specifics at this time.
Expect a varied degree of switches, blocks and other challenges in which the Tokobots hold the key to your continued progression. You'll also find a relative concentration of enemies, which at first seem rather simple to take out, but surely will become substantially harder and more formidable later on in the game. Overall, the tone feels very upbeat, intelligent and original – something that the PSP needs to blessed with more often. I'd love to elaborate more on the story, but the current build provided is actually an import. Color me intrigued. Tokobot definitely looks like it has something creative that PSP have been waiting for and could very well create a resurgence in the strategy action genre.