I would hazard a guess (this could be way off) that 95% of video games involve saving someone and that 80% involve saving a princess or some other damsel in distress. We’re all familiar with the iconic plumber Mario and the Hero of Time Link and their princess-rescuing adventures. It may be heroism at its cheesiest, but saving princesses is a gaming storyline that will never die. If the protagonist is off trying to rescue someone, then he’s a hero, plain and simple. Even if he’s an ape, like in the game Toki for the NES. Imagine King Kong but in reverse; instead of taking the damsel hostage, think of saving the damsel.
Toki is a Donkey-Kong inspired shooter/platformer featuring a fireball-spitting gorilla. Well, the gorilla Toki is actually a Tarzan-like man cursed by a voodoo magician that kidnapped his love interest, Miho. It’s up to Toki to brave jungles, oceans, ice tundras and golden palaces to rescue Miho. Overall, the game is cute and a joy to pick up. Toki is an adorable ape reminiscent of Diddy Kong and his expressions while spitting fireballs are priceless. The platforming and shooter aspects of the game combine seamlessly, giving the player just the right amount of control to feel powerful yet challenged at the same time. The cool thing about the shooter aspect is that Toki can shoot fireballs at a diagonal angle, a rarity amongst a lot of shooter games. No need for a lot of jumping to take down aerial enemies; you’ve just got to hunker down and wait for enemies to fly into your line of fire.
Toki also has the option of picking up several power-ups along the way, allowing his shots to become a continual stream of fire or three-pronged scattershots. Run, run, run, shoot, shoot, shoot. That’s all there is to it and it’s a treat for the classic fans. Ah, when games were simple and to the point.
The game doesn’t take long to finish and its levels are well-designed for a platformer of its day. The backgrounds are colorful and vibrant, making Toki stand out well from a design perspective. The bosses all have a fun run-and-dodge strategy to them and with the fun of smashing the A-button to shoot bullets and the B-button to jump, Toki is a great casual game to add to your NES collection. It definitely rides on the whole popularity of the ape back in the day, with King Kong, Planet of the Apes and Donkey Kong, which is a cool blast to the past. Why did apes experience a sense of popularity for a time? There’s probably something scandalous about it that I probably shouldn’t discuss here. Let’s just say that Toki here is one pretty cool ape who finally gets turned back into a human at the end of the game. The guy gets the gal, and who doesn’t love seeing that? Well, maybe some disgruntled people, but we don’t count those.
Simple rescue games like these I imagine as the charm that roped gamers in ever since the beginning of gaming. You can be a plumber, a peasant even an ape and you can still find love if you just go through a few dungeons. Too bad there isn’t a map of dungeons to conquer to obtain some love in real life. Oh well, at least there’s always our game consoles. Bad joke? Probably. Shut up and keep gaming everyone.