Troubled Tonic

Hey, remember that really cool 3D platformer released by Ubisoft in 1999 about a guy with no arms and no legs?

Exactly, it’s Rayman 2. Definitely not Tonic Trouble.

I have had the disc for Tonic Trouble for… I don’t remember. More than 10 years now, I’m fairly sure. It was a budget edition bought at a newspapers stand. Never actually played it. So I thought it was about time I remedied that.

I wouldn't blame you for confusing the two, though.
I wouldn’t blame you for confusing the two, though.

This game didn’t exactly get a good reception. After playing it, I can kind of see why. It plays a lot like Rayman 2, except without half of the control tightness. There’s a flying power that is absolutely hell to use, and the jump and platform grabbing physics are as wonky as it gets. It’s not really that bad, though.

Flat shading in a 1999 game? Wait, what do you mean "not flat"...
Flat shading in a 1999 game? Wait, what do you mean “not flat”…

The stage and enemies design is pretty much the closest I’ve seen a platformer get to Day of the Tentacle, which can never be a bad thing. There’s more of a focus on puzzles than combat or platforming, and these puzzles generally work. I’ve been stumped a few times, but never so much that I needed to read a walkthrough. I don’t even know if there’s one anywhere, actually. The bosses are probably the best part of the game, they tend to be inventive and quite fun. One of them borrows the annoying “run toward the screen” mechanic that was popularized by Crash Bandicoot, and which luckily nobody does anymore.

The game uses a similar formula to Rayman, which was then used in Rayman 2 as well (you can kind of recognize Ubisoft there): you play through a series of levels, then at the end get a power-up which will allow you to open a new area, and so forth. When you get near the end, you’ll need to go through the whole game again with your new powers in order to get all the trinkets you have missed, or no boss battle for you (Tonic Trouble is actually a bit more lenient than Rayman in this regard: you only need 160 out of 180 trinkets, meaning you can avoid replaying the god-awful Canyon stage).

Product placement at its most blatant. Still not as cool as Shadow Man's Diesel endorsement.
Product placement at its most blatant. Still not as cool as Shadow Man’s Diesel endorsement.

It’s a somewhat competent, but mostly unremarkable platformer. I completed it in 6-7 hours. Good to satiate my curiosity, but in the end, it’s easy to see why history has forgotten it.

There are a few interesting things to say about its technical side, however, so I’ll write more on this game next time.


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