Award-winning mobile game developer, Rovio, entered into the iPhone/iPod Touch arena with the release of Totomi, a puzzle-stacking game with charm.
Totomi is a more in-depth gaming app than many, complete with a story mode and arcade mode, and stands on the same solid premise most good puzzle games have. Players have the choice of advancing through levels in story mode, engaging in a totem-building marathon, or racking up high scores in arcade mode by building up totems through a series of stacking achievements. As it is, the achievements are a little more complex than first meets the eye.
A great puzzle game should require you to think a bit before you master it. Totomi certainly requires thought, but initially it comes off a bit too complicated. The objective in Totomi is to stack animal tokens in a sort of categorized method to build a totem in one of three columns. Completing the totem scores points, and the more tokens in the totem, the higher the score. Seems logical from the standard puzzle-stacking point of view. The complexity comes from the way each token interacts with another.
For example, stack a zebra on top of a zebra, you get another zebra. This is because stacking the same animals results in procreation. Stack an elephant on a hippo or a wolf on a dog, and they become “friends.” Stack a cat on a mouse, or a lion on a zebra, and the result is food. (The lion eats the zebra.) There are other reactions as well, including feeding meat to a zebra, which will make it sick, dropping a stump on a bird, which makes it climb, and dropping a bison on a bison, which just makes it disappear. Combine one of the five or so reactions with 20 different tokens, and the result is a little confusing, especially considering a lion won't eat a mouse.
This is not to say Totomi is so cryptic it’s difficult to play, just that it takes a bit of time to sort it all out. Much of the strategy of totem building stems from an obvious reaction to two tokens, such as lions eating meat and zebras eating leaves. For those who are completely baffled, there is a very nice, interactive tutorial menu that explains each aspect of Totomi.
With both story mode and arcade mode available, Totomi has a greater replay value than simpler games in this genre. Both modes feature a time limit, however, story mode requires specific tasks be completed in each level before advancing to the next, some of which can be increasingly difficult to keep track of. Though the information display at the top lets you keep track of how high your totem is or how many junk blocks you’ve made, it doesn’t help you track the number of monkeys that climbed or how many bison you’ve knocked out.
Totomi is laden with colorful, super-cute graphics and is accompanied by a calypso-style jungle beat and other appropriate sound effects. The procreation sound effect is a wee bit annoying, but the other sounds make up for it and you can always turn them off.
Overall, Totomi delivers in-depth style and design with great touch control, making it a decent choice for mobile gaming. Without the tutorial, it would be less than engaging for many users, but as it is, the tutorial aids in achieving a fairly complete understanding of Totomi, lending to its overall value and once engaged, it’s hard to put down. To give it a try before you buy, you can play a limited version of Totomi online.