Despite some decent releases for Apple’s iOS devices, I’m still mostly skeptical about the value of gaming on the touch screen mobile platforms. Amongst the vast amounts of releases that appear on the app store each week, a few stand out above the noise of the marketplace. HotGen’s To-Fu 2 is one of those mobile games that is worth attention, even for stick-in-the-mud traditionalists like myself.
Keeping to the design ethos that serves the platform best, To-Fu 2 is a simple puzzle platformer in which players have to stretch the titular To-Fu and use his elasticity to cross expanses at high speeds. He sticks to any surface, and players are challenged to reach the goal in a limited number of moves. Several mechanics add challenge aside from the basic traversal each level, that are solidly designed and feature an array of tricks and traps to curb progression, such as laser grids and good old fashioned spike pits.
Visually, it doesn’t offer anything above most iPhone games of its class, but To-Fu is a pleasantly designed character for a headband-wearing block of bean curd, and enough confetti and glowing hues are applied when a level goal is completed. The audio is very repetitive, but I'm pretty certain nobody actually plays these games with the volume up. Do they?
As always with any action based game on iOS, screen size is a limiting factor. Players on iPad won’t have the same problem, but it can be hard to plot To-Fu’s trajectory when your finger is blocking much of the screen. There are several choices made by the developer to minimise this problem, such as being able to freely look around the level and decide a course of action before starting each move.
The real fun of To-Fu 2 is in its smart level design and layouts. The wide array of obstacles and physics objects that alter the way To-Fu interacts with surfaces make for some nice variety, and reaching the goal on a particularly challenging section can feel very rewarding for a game that will be most likely played in short bursts. The limited number of moves available to complete the each level is a great choice and never feels overly punitive, and provides a far more tangible challenge (and subsequent reward for the invested effort) than merely reaching the end of the stage would have offered.
There are frustrations and niggles as any game on this platform is likely to incur, but To-Fu 2 is a fun and entertaining alternative to some of the more ubiquitous hits available for iOS, even to a non-believer in the virtues of Apple gaming.
To-Fu 2 is available now on iTunes for iOS devices. Price: 69p