Webster's dictionary defines Tonic as "A medicine that increases the strength and gives vigor of action to the system." While that definition may apply to the storyline, it certainly doesn't describe this game in relation to the N64. Tonic Trouble ultimately fails to deliver and only stands out as a shining example of how not to do a platform game.
You're Ed, some sort of galactic janitor who has accidentally spilled some serum onto Earth, turning it into a bad, drugged-out version of itself. But that's not all - the tonic also got onto a napping Viking named Grogh, who as a result becomes all-powerful and decided to conquer Earth. Realizing how horrible littering is for the environment, Ed doesn't need a tearful Native American to launch him on a quest to clean up his mess.
To show the effects the serum had on the landscape, Tonic Trouble is full of skewed colors, most of which turn out to be an eyesore. The graphics are simply horrible. Most of the characters in the game look more frightening than cute, and the level design is bland and unoriginal. The soundtrack is chock-full of cheesy songs that sound more like the demo tracks on less-expensive keyboards. The sound effects are just lacking. There's only about fifteen different effects, and to make it even worse, they're used with almost no discretion. Every time Ed gets hit with some sort of attack, he'll make the same noise; every time he completes a series of difficult jumps he'll get all excited and say, "Yeah!"
The gameplay is downright lame. While Tonic Trouble claims to sport a fully 3D world, most of it takes place indoors, in caves, or in dungeons, and therefore, camera angles become a serious problem. The camera is locked to a specific view way too often, and too many of the jumps have to be made blindly. Tonic Trouble's idea of a challenge is a string of difficult jumps, and the only time you'll really die is when you miss one. Unfortunately, it just leaves you feeling as though the game has obtained a cheap victory, and frustration soon follows. On top of this, the collisions don't seem quite right, as many times I found myself walking on air or up the side of a wall.
The main staging area that leads to all the levels is an open area dotted with portals here and there. This only leads to major confusion, as you have to walk about reading all the signs before you know exactly where to go. And once you decide on a portal you'll have to wait for the long, drawn-out portal animation sequence every time. This gets extremely annoying and, combined with the other elements of the game, only helps to fuel the desire to stop playing. In addition to gathering a bunch of special items for the Emmet-Brown-like "Doc," you're supposed to gather what seems like a billion of these little red-ball things that are scattered about the level. Getting them is not a challenge, only a hassle, and once you get one you're not filled with any sort of excitement or feeling of accomplishment. Pretty soon you simply stop caring.
If this game is remembered at all, it will be as the game that's not Rayman 2. Thought up by the same character designer responsible for Rayman, Tonic Trouble shows amazing similarity in concept, but fails in all aspects. The characters are all devoid of any real depth and seem more like rip-offs of movies and other stories than anything, and finding the motivation to complete this game is a real feat. With a non-engaging storyline, cardboard cutout characters, and cheesy power-ups, this game has really nothing going for it.