Tonic Trouble

a game by Ubi Soft

Platform: Nintendo 64Nintendo 64

Genre: Action

Emanating from the same French development house as the soon-to-be-unveiled PlayStation shooting fest POD, Ubi Soft's third quarter action/adventure, ED, was this month finally given some daylight to bathe in.

Although relatively little was revealed, the game looks and plays in a similar style to Ubi Soft's 32-bit platformer, Ray Man, with strapping great comical characters tearing about the place, multi-coloured backdrops and a light-hearted storyline involving the square-jawed tomfoolery of the lad ED.

And the rumour that it may appear via the much-talked-of 64DD was neither confirmed nor denied by the enigmatic Ubi Soft.

The game's appearance at America's E3 show in June should provide a motorway of concrete detail.

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Tonic Trouble Downloads

Nintendo 64 Tonic Trouble download

One of the first games released for the N64 was Mario World which was a platform game that involved expansive worlds and great gameplay. Ever since way back in 1995 when this was released, there have been a number of games that have tried to imitate this formula or put their spin on it. Well, nearly five years later, Mario is still one of the best and the imitators still just can't seem to get it right.

Enter Ed and Tonic Trouble. Ed is a janitor who lives someplace in space. While cleaning, he accidentally drops a can of Tonic onto the Earth, which caused a bunch of freaky things to happen to the humans and plants. Ed is sent to Earth to find the Tonic and fix all of the damage. It turns out that the Tonic has fallen into the hands of the evil Grogh who has now declared him as the ruler of the Earth. Ed's first task is to find the wacky professor and then work together to save the Earth.

Gameplay

Nice story but what it all amounts to is that this is a platform game that follows the old, run, jump, gain extra powers to try and make it to the end of levels all while collecting a number of items (coins, rings, etc.). This game has you collecting numerous different items throughout the levels, one of which looks like little Dreamcast logos. I assume this game is aimed at younger gamers but I think the lack of originality will even turn them off.

I had really high hopes for this game. UBI Soft were the makers of the excellent game Rayman, one of the first PSX platform titles. They did such a great job creating a lush and beautiful world and interesting characters that I just knew Tonic Trouble would be good. While the game follows the same formula as most platform games, this one just feels average, plain, and been-there before.

Tonic Trouble is made up of different worlds, each containing different tasks and foes for you to beat. The main objective in all of the worlds is to collect various items but mostly to find the items that the professor has lost. These items are used to give Ed powers throughout the game. So what it boils down to is that you will spend your time running, jumping, shooting, swimming, and bouncing your way through slow developing levels.

As you make your way through the game and collect the items for the professor, you are awarded new powers. This was one of the few bright spots that kept me playing through the game. You will be awarded the blowpipe, which allows you to switch to a first person mode and shoot darts at targets and enemies. Next you will get the flying mode, which allows you to use your bow tie to fly. Then you will get deep swimming, which allows you to dive under water and swim. You will also get the pogo stick mode and chameleon mode. These new abilities helped to keep the game going but even they were not enough.

My biggest complaint with the game was the speed at which the action progressed. This game really just moved along at a snails pace. I felt like I was just sitting back riding a platform or waiting for something to happen the majority of the time. The action was very choppy and just when it started going, you would go for a ride on a platform or the section of the level would end, which took forever. I just had a real difficult time getting a rhythm down because of the overall pace of the game. I guess this might help out younger gamers but I have a feeling that they will grow impatient with it as well.

Another thing that bothered me about the game was the overall lack of originality. Okay, I know that video games have been around for quite a while and it is getting more and more difficult to come up with something original but come on. I really felt like nothing in this game had not been done before in another game. That in itself is alright but the fact that it doesn't do anything better than the original games is where I find the problems. If you are going to use tried and true methods, at least improve on them some.

Finally, this game is a 3D platform game and we all know what that means, right? Crappy camera control! Okay, so that is not entirely fair because there is one feature that I really did like with the camera control. If you hit the Z button, the camera will automatically swing behind you, which made things a little easier, but there are still some serious problems. There is a lot of precision jumping required and I can't tell you how many times I died because of the camera angles. There were times that I just could not tell if I needed to jump or step on a platform and there was no adjustment that would have made it any clearer. Also, the field of depth was just weird. You would go around corners and the camera would not follow or you would go up a hill and not be able to see anything ahead. I found myself craning my neck trying to see around corners and it just did not work. This made the game a real chore to play.

Graphics

This game looks like a Nintendo 64 game. The more and more I think about it, I consider this a negative rather than a positive. I don't know about you but most N64 games are starting to have a similar look to them. Blurry textures, fog, dull colors, etc. Tonic Trouble suffers from all of this. I think if this was a PSX game or a Dreamcast game, the graphics would have been much better but as it stands now, the graphics match the game; average and unoriginal.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a cutting edge game that has original gameplay then I suggest looking elsewhere. Of you want a game that feels flat and has a very familiar quality to it, thenTonic Trouble may be what you are looking for. I just had a really difficult time getting any sort of a flow going in the game. I think there are better games out there that play very similar to this. I just hope that they do a better job onRayman 2 or else there are going to be some pretty disappointed people out there.

reggie posted a review
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