This is going to be a very short review, since Toree 3D is about $1 on the Nintendo eShop and has about as much content as you would expect for that price. It offers nine levels, and each of those is just a couple of minutes long. The thing is, though, it’s quite a charming little thing and that was $1 well spent.
Toree 3D is heavily inspired by what I like to think of as the “B-tier” 3D platformers back on the Nintendo 64. Everyone remembers Mario 64, Banjo Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64. What is less well-remembered are the likes of Chameleon Twist or Glover. These games didn’t necessarily play as well or have the same refined aesthetics, but as early efforts at 3D platforming they had a charm of their own and are well worth looking into, when you’re keen on something nostalgic but have replayed Mario 64 one too many times. Toree 3D is like a homage to those games. It offers a simple concept – collect stars and get to the goal quickly, and does that well enough to be diverting for a while.
The platforming is actually pretty tight, and strikes a decent balance between being challenging and being accessible. 3D platformers back in the N64 era were notorious for camera issues, which Toree 3D avoids, and the level design has a good eye for flow, in that you’ll be challenged in a couple of different ways across the course of a single level, and the way it winds and meanders gives you plenty of different things to look at. I will say that the checkpointing system can be nasty, since the game generally saves its most difficult moments for immediately before a checkpoint, and there’s often quite a distance between them, but it’s never an overtly stressful game either.
There’s plenty of personality within its deliberate ugliness. Backgrounds are surrealistic in tone, and the little chick that you play as is adorable with his little shoes and glasses. There’s not a lot of movement within the game, but the occasional enemies are fun obstacles to avoid. It’s easy to look at this game in screenshots and think of it as an underdone work-in-progress or student project, but I don’t actually think that’s the case. Everything you see in this game is quite deliberate and nothing strikes you as “placeholder.” This is most certainly the game that the developers wanted to make.
There’s a fair bit of replay value if you’re looking to try and get the best possible times and scores, though there’s no online leaderboard, which makes high score chasing a bit of a fruitless exercise. Of course, I wasn’t expecting online leaderboards for a game priced like this, but for a game where the principal challenge is in shaving seconds off your run through these levels, there’s a disconnect between intent and execution here. The unlocks are fun, though. And, again, this game cost $1.
The biggest pity is that the developers were so modest in their scope. Perhaps this little experiment is just to test the waters and get some money together for a more ambitious second project. I hope so, because Toree 3D has a lot of potential to be a more full-featured homage to B-tier platformers. As it stands here, though, it’s a moment or two of fun. Nothing more, nothing less.
– Matt S.
Find me on Twitter: @mattsainsb