Toki, known in Japan as JuJu Densetsu (JuJu伝説) is a 1989 shoot 'em up platformer arcade game, or a "run and gun", with elements of tongue-in-cheek humour combined with the action. The player takes control of an enchanted ape who must battle hordes of jungle monsters with energy balls from his mouth (described humorously as "monkey-spit" or "monkey-vomit" by some gamers). The ultimate goal is to destroy the evil wizard who cast a spell on you; therefore transforming yourself from an ape back into a human, and rescuing the kidnapped princess. The game was ported to several video game consoles.
Development history and ports
Toki was originally developed as an arcade game in 1989 by the (now defunct) TAD Corporation and Fabtek, based in Redmond, WA. The game was initially known as Toki throughout Europe and the Americas, however in Japan the game was known as Juju Densetsu.
Due to its popularity, within the next two years the game had been ported to a larger number of home video game consoles of the time. These included the Amiga and Atari ST published by Ocean Software, the Atari Lynx and the Nintendo Entertainment System, published by Taito. The latter version of the game was slightly altered and featured a health bar so that Toki didn't die after one hit. Ports for the ZX Spectrum & Amstrad CPC were advertised by Ocean Software, and the Spectrum version was previewed in issue 90 of Crash Magazine, however neither port materialised.
Sega would later reprogram the game into an exclusive version for the Sega Mega Drive known as Toki: Going Ape Spit. This version lacks the non-spit power-ups, but it features additional levels and more detailed graphics.
The protagonist of the game is a muscular, loin-cloth wearing, Tarzan-esque tribesman named Toki, who up until recently lived a primitive yet contented life in the jungles of a vast and wild island in the South Seas.
This all ends tragically when the beautiful Miho, princess of Toki's tribe of jungle men, and a potential suitor to Toki, is kidnapped by the treacherous witch doctor Vookimedlo. Miho is taken to a vast golden palace at the summit of the island, which Vookimedlo has conjured up for himself to reside in. The wicked shaman then casts a spell to transform all the human inhabitants of the island into various animals and beasts, before they can defend themselves against the evil magic.
Toki himself is transformed into a Geeshergam; one of the ape-like minions of Vookimedlo; although in his primate form, Toki more resembles a gorilla. Fortunately the great warrior discovers that he is still in control of his own faculties and as an unexpected side effect of the spell cast on him, he can breathe fire and shoot forth various projectiles from his mouth.
Toki then sets off on a quest to pursue and defeat Vookimeldo, rescue princess Miho, and undo the curse which has befallen the island. However, to reach Vookimedlo's golden palace, Toki will have to travel through murky lakes, steep canyons, over frozen ice-capped mountain ranges and lava-spewing volcanoes alike. To progress in his quest and be ultimately victorious, Toki will have to battle all manner of dangerous wild animals and various mutants of Vookimedlo's creation; not to mention Vookimedlo's own abominable guardians who act as level bosses.
In some ports of the game, Toki was named "Juju", Miho was named "Wanda" and Vookimeldo was named "Dr. Stark". Also, in some ports it was not Vookimedlo who kidnaps princess Miho, but his chief henchman, the half-invisible giant known as Bashtar. In some ports Bashtar was the final boss of the game, and not Vookimedlo.
The game is a typical platformer in which the player must transverse several levels with a miniboss at the end. Despite his apparent handicap, his slowness as an ape, and the fact that almost any attack can kill him, Toki is able to spit powerful shots that will help him in defeating enemies and obstacles that try to slow him down in his mission. There is a timer for each stage. Toki can make use of items such as power-ups for his spit; lucky rabbit feet which can give Toki bursts of super-human agility and jumping skill; clocks which add extra time to the countdown; fruit which can add to Toki's bonus points; keys which unclock bonus areas; a special helmet that protects him from upwards attacks (the helmet rather comically resembles an American football helmet); extra lives; and magic coins (food in the Genesis version) which when collected in abundance can obtain Toki an extra life.
Toki was criticised for some due to its lack of originality, and the general slow pace of the game (Toki as an ape doesn't move very fast), amongst other criticisms. However the game was generally well received and achieved a considerable following of fans.