TGS 2005: Tokobot Hands-On

We try out Tecmo's adventure game starring tiny robots.

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TOKYO--Tecmo had a playable demo of Kari Kuri, the PSP action game known as Tokobot in the US, at its booth at the Tokyo game show. The game casts you in the role of Bolt, an aspiring archaeologist who winds up getting himself sucked into an adventure to save the world. He's helped in the daunting task by a horde of tiny robots who do his bidding. The demo on display let us navigate our way through some ruins and face off against assorted foes with a posse of versatile bots.

The enemies you'll face are a quirky blend of organic and mechanical foes (along with some that fall somewhere in between). As you take them out you'll be able to collect different-colored cogs that Bolt will need as he makes his way through the area. While this may sound straightforward, there's a horrible twist: You can't do a whole lot on your own. As a simple boy, your options are limited when you face enemies or come across seemingly impassable areas. Thankfully the robots you have at your disposal are a handy, versatile sort who are game for just about anything. The demo let us configure our mechanical buddies into one of three configurations: a circle around us, a single-file line behind us, and an A Chorus Line-style horizontal line. You'll toggle between the three by hitting the triangle button on the PSP, which will let you cycle through a menu on the lower left-hand side of the screen. Once you've highlighted the configuration of your choice, you'll be able to get them in formation by hitting the right trigger.

Though the playable demo was pretty basic, we were able to get a feel for how the robot formation mechanic will work, which is a lot like Nintendo's Four Swords Adventures for the GameCube. The single-file line can be used to attack enemies with the square button or to latch onto certain areas so you can climb up your robo buddies to reach new areas. The chorus-line setup lets you spin your buddies around and damage anything near you. Finally, the circular formation lets you protect yourself and jump.

You'll need to get comfortable with all three formations as you make your way through the game--even in the demo we had to do some multitasking and bot-configuring to progress. The game will force you to use your brain through the adventure--you'll have to solve puzzles and suss out which robot configuration will be the most useful to Bolt.

The visuals were simple and offered clean detail. In many ways the game's look reminds us of the level of quality seen in Sony's Ape Escape for the PSP. The environments offer a blocky, stylized look that fits the game's tone. Bolt and his tiny robotic army offer a charming anime-inspired design that's nicely done.

The audio in the demo was limited but sounded like it was coming along fine. The music track we heard featured a bouncy theme that fit the action well. We heard some voice samples and other assorted effects that lent the game some personality as well.

Based on what we played, Tokobot is shaping up well. It offers a breezy experience that's fun and smart. The game is slated to hit the PSP later this year. Look for more on Tokobot in the coming months.

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