Exploring ruins is dangerous work. Roving mechanical guardians patrol every room while traps and puzzles do their best to protect the secrets buried within. Anyone trying to uncover the mysteries of ancient civilizations would do well to bring a friend along, or maybe a horde of small robots. That's the premise for Tecmo's Tokobot, where the discovery of the robots of the game's title leads to the inevitable saving of the world.
Bolt is the young troubleshooter for Dr. Canewood of Canewood Labs, investigating the ruins that an ancient civilization left behind. As is true of all ancient civilizations, they possessed amazing technologies that can only be dreamt of today. One of these secrets, the small mechs called "tokobots", is discovered by Bolt one day, and they start following him around wherever he goes.
As cute as they are handy, the little robots are the perfect helpers to explore the world's ruins with. The tokobots can link together with Bolt in three different formations, each of which has its uses. When trailing behind him in a line the tokobots can be swung vertically, good for swatting enemies out of the air as well as hitting magnetic panels, allowing Bolt to climb the fused-together robots. When divided up on either side of Bolt they can be swung horizontally to take out ground-based critters as well as spin gears. Finally, the cluster formation is good for the stomp move, useful for enemies and ground-based switches. As the ruins are explored new abilities will be added, such as the divided formation's ability to helicopter through the air for extra distance over long jumps.
In addition to the standard moves, the tokobots can fuse together and transform into several different larger robots. Some forms, like the train, can only be used in certain areas, while others such as the samurai or tank are available anywhere. These larger forms come at a price, in the form of bolts found throughout the ruins, and will run out of energy either through extended use or taking damage. Most situations can be gotten through with the tokobots in their standard form, with the transformations only really necessary during certain puzzle rooms and the occasional boss battle. They're fun while they last, though, and provide even more variety in a game that wasn't lacking the quality in the first place.
What really makes Tokobot fun is that there's always something different around the next corner. Standard monster fighting will segue into a room, where a limited number of blocks have to be carefully placed to stop the eye monoliths from knocking Bolt off the path to the room below. You'll find there are moments to stop and appreciate the beauty of the ruins or simply to run like mad as the clock ticks down. Memory puzzles, jumping challenges, tricky boss fights, train rides, and more keep the experience fresh at every turn.
With Tokobot, Tecmo has given the PSP not only its finest action/platformer to date, but has also created one of the best games on the system. The few rough patches (wonky translation, some overly tricky jumping puzzles) aren't enough to keep it from greatness, and are more than made up for by the game's charm and style. Add in a post-game time trial mode to keep things going after the main story is complete and Tokobot is a little slice of platform gaming heaven.