Since the boom of the iOS gaming catalogue, Nintendo’s DS has seen many ports of the cheap and even free titles onto their system. Of course early on there was no DSiWare for gamers to download these games from and they were often rushed out as a packaged product retailing at full price begging the question as to why you could spend up to ten times more on what is essentially the same game. Originally released for iOS games for free, the two To-Fu titles by HotGen have been bundled together and released as the To-Fu Collection on the DS for the first time as one full priced cartridge title.
Upon booting the game up the player is given the option of which of the two games they wish to play and after a quick introduction to the basic mechanics of the game they then take control of To-Fu who essentially looks like a vegetarian ninja version of Super Meat Boy as he attempts to become the master of chi. Both games are basically the same in the way they play like many game series on mobile devices.
The central game mechanic relies on To-Fu being able to stick to any surface as each trial is constructed with a series of surfaces for the player to move him onto. The main objective of each trial is quite simple as you use the stylus to grab To-Fu and aim him in the direction you want him to go and let go to ping him like an elastic band while avoiding various obstacles and dangerous surfaces. The first few trials are simple enough as you only really need to reach the final goal without any concern for any obstacles but very quickly hazards are introduced from spiked floors, laser beams and collapsing platforms. The game control overall is similar in theory to something like Angry Birds although without any gravity or physics having any effect on To-Fu’s momentum as he flings from one surface to the next.
As additional challenges there are medals to earn for collecting all the chi orbs in a trial and reaching the goal in a certain number of moves. Very often it isn’t possible to finish the level with all the chi collected in the given number of pings, encouraging players to return to the trial to complete the other challenges. As extra incentives to revisit trials there are in-game achievements and unlockable costumes for use in To-Fu 2.
The game will last quite a while as players attempt to complete all the challenges that come with the harder trials, but for those struggling with just getting to the end of a level can activate a special ability which makes To-Fu invincible for a short time. As with the best of these bite-sized gaming experiences there is an addictive quality that will keep players coming back for just one more trial or challenge.
The main drawback of this port of the two games is simply a matter of price. On the iOS both games are free and ad-supported making the fact that this collection costs a lot more without the benefit of further free updates somewhat disappointing. It’s also a little odd that this isn’t a DSiWare or eShop downloadable title rather than the physical boxed copy as the cheaper price and the ability to instantly boot the game up without a cartridge would be more desirable in a smaller title such as this. As with other recent DS/3DS games like Jewel Master: Cradle of Rome 2 I’m not so sure that if you’re going out with the DS or 3DS players would opt to take a cartridge of these smaller titles over more meaty offerings available.
Beyond the price these are the exact same games as the iOS versions. The higher resolution of an iPhone or iPad make for sharper visuals on their original platform but having said that the DS version still looks very nice. The major benefit for the iOS version as mentioned earlier is simply a matter of convenience. For games that offer brief bite-sized chunks of gaming having them appear as an icon on the menu of the system does make them more inviting to play. Even on Nintendo’s own eShop there are several titles such as Pullblox that I feel do get played a lot more being always there to play as opposed to having to switch a cartridge over just to solve a few puzzles.
Overall the To-Fu Collection is a fun little puzzler offering a great amount of variety and replay value from its two hundred challenges but the price and distribution format make it very difficult to recommend to gamers who have an iOS enabled device on which they can get the games for free and are much more accessible.