Stitchy in Tooki Trouble, Polygoat’s new 2.5D platformer aims to give gamers a healthy dose of nostalgia that scratches the itch of gaming greats like Donkey Kong and Crash Bandicoot.
Taking the helm of the titular Stitchy, players are tasked with helping the scarecrow reclaim their corn and defeat the Tooki tribe.
Founded back in 2017 in Belgium, indie devs Polygoat have created games ranging from educational titles through to VR experiences.
Their newest outing is full of color, charm, and what is unmistakably a lot of love from the small, four-person dev team. I instantly fell in love with the titular scarecrow as we ventured through the first tutorial level together – full of lush jungle and deadly enemies.
Stitchy in Tooki Trouble – Key details
- Price: $12.99 / £11.69 (pre-orders in Europe are discounted 25%)
- Developer: Polygoat
- Release date: 15 April, 2021
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch
- Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch Lite
Stitchy in Tooki Trouble Trailer
Stitchy is a strong main character
It’s clear to see that Stitchy is crafted with total respect for the sidescrolling genre. Chock-full of whimsical set pieces and fantastic audio design, the game straddles the line between feeling both modern and timeless.
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The game’s music and the overall tone are exactly what players would expect of any cartoon platformer — cheerful, and upbeat. All of these elements blend together, following the typical recipe of what makes games like this fun to jump into.
As players are taken on a journey through three vastly different worlds, they run, swing, jump, and body slam their way through a myriad of moving platforms, the Tooki tribe, gigantic waves, and runaway mine carts.
Polygoat’s main character is undoubtedly one of the cutest additions to gaming we’ve seen in a while, too — Stitchy aims to stand up alongside some of gaming’s great mascots like Mario, Rayman, and Sonic. If the scarecrow was in a more fleshed out, well-rounded experience, this definitely could be the case, too.
Unfortunately, the game’s genuinely lovely world design, graphic style, and music leave any semblance of a story and varied gameplay in the dust for poor old Stitchy.
A strange story
One thing that stands out a mile when playing Stitchy in Tooki Trouble is: what’s the story? Officially, the game centers around the scarecrow reclaiming all his corn after the Tooki sweep through the cornfield that they’re protecting and run off with it all – but the introductory cinematic fails to make this clear.
It feels disconnected, and for those who jump into the game without knowing much beforehand, it feels as if Stitchy has no motivation whatsoever other than to pick up corn from all corners of the world.
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Even with this motivation, the game’s overarching storyline still feels lackluster. The gaming greats Polygoat are so inspired by have a clear story from the outset: Mario is set on saving Princess Peach from Bowser, or Crash aims to prevent Cortex’s quest for world domination.
These stories don’t just stop there, though, they develop and change over the course of the gameplay. In the case of Tooki Trouble, though, the latter half of the plot point is exactly the same as when you’re first dropped into play.
Gameplay: Movement, levels & enemies
As Stitchy attempts to reclaim their corn, you’re also given the added completionist challenge, if you’re a completionist, of tackling levels within a certain time frame to get a better star ranking on that level.
Further giving the levels replayability are the three pieces of the Tooki’s totems that are scattered throughout. This is all well and good, but the trouble is: the gameplay of each level is gratingly shallow.
Stitchy in Tooki Trouble features a respawn mechanic that further adds to the frustration and monotony of the gameplay loop. After dying, you either respawn at a checkpoint within the level, or at the very beginning if you lose all of Stitchy’s hats. The issue with this, though, is how grating it feels to have to repeat a particular section of the game, especially when combined with how sluggish moving Stitchy feels.
Controlling the scarecrow feels muddy, as if they’re tied down by weights; jumps that should easily be landed often end up losing you another life due to this, and it just isn’t fun to use.
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Enemies are also extremely familiar, no matter which world you’re in. Brightly colored wooden fish attempt to block your path as they jump out of the water whether in the jungle zone or when you’re hopping over icy waters, and robots heckle you with fish bones as they try to trip you up no matter where you are.
Glimmers of what the game could be are seen when executing a well-timed slam on an enemy, or chaining together jumps from one hazardous platform to the next in quick succession — but the overall experiences hold these back, and I found myself having to take breaks from the game before coming back to it.
Dying at a challenge and having to try it over and over again is one thing, and it can often be rewarding when you finally figure out how to progress, but it never feels like this in Tooki Trouble. Instead, it just leaves you annoyed as you attempt to quickly rush back to the previous section that you died at.
Beastly boss battles
Despite the lacking gameplay loop, the game features absolutely fantastic boss battles at the end of each world. Ever wanted to fight a gigantic wooden, mechanical bird and an army of smaller ones? How about a gigantic Kraken-like Octopus? Polygoat has got you covered.
Each battle introduces differing mechanics from the last, and it’s a shame that the sense of achievement you get from defeating each of these just isn’t there in the rest of the game.
These take time to accomplish and require razor-sharp precision, but this precision can also take some of the fun away with finicky hitboxes for both Stitchy and the bosses.
Overall, Stitchy in Tooki Trouble suffers from a lack of cohesive story, weighty and unrefined mechanics, and a gameplay loop that can often leave you feeling more annoyed than challenged.
Despite this, all the pieces of the platforming puzzle are definitely there – especially in the form of Stitchy, the cute world, music, and boss battles. Polygoat has created a diamond in the rough, but the formula needs a few tweaks before this scarecrow’s adventure can truly shine.