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Tonic Trouble – N64

Tonic Trouble – N64

Platform: Nintendo 64

Release: July 19, 1999

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal

Publisher: Ubisoft

Genre: Platformer

Nerd Rating: 5/10

Reviewed by Flagostomos


One of the more exciting moments of my childhood that I can remember was the day my Dad brought home a new computer. Gaming had always brought us together as a family, and not to be left out was our love for PC gaming. We played all sorts of games, Carmen Sandiego, Star Wars Rebel Assault, Yobi’s Basic Spelling Tricks… It wasn’t uncommon to find a few people playing on the SNES, another person on the computer, and one of us on the Game Boy.

Unfortunately we had grown out of the PC we had. It was an ATI something something running Windows 3.1 It served the family well, until we tried to install a game someone had given us, and it wouldn’t work. Imagine our excitement when my Dad comes in one day with a brand new Pionex, uh something something.

It came with a whole host of new games. Internet the City, Buster’s Beanstalk, NCAA Basketball, and my personal favorite: Tonic Trouble. I played that game for hours, trying to master the unique style of gameplay. But alas, one day I found a scratch on my beloved Tonic Trouble, and I was cursed to never play it again. Until I found it for the Nintendo 64.

You take control of Ed, a janitor from a spaceship, who accidentally encounters a can of strange tonic. To his distaste, he spits out the small sample and ejects it to the planet below, where an evil man picks it up and gains enormous power from the tonic. Ed is tasked with cleaning up his mess, and so begins his journey. The story is about as good as you’d expect from a platforming game. It gets the job done, but it is nothing exceptional.

The game starts off right away with a fast paced race down a snow covered mountain. The controls at first feel funny, and you keep waiting to get used to them. This is where my first major gripe with the game comes into play. The controls are very slippery. Imagine having come from playing Super Mario 64 or Banjo-Kazooie, with the spot on controls that the developers had painstakingly put together. Mario and Banjo move exactly how you would expect them to, given the limitations of the hardware of course. Ed on the other hand, doesn’t land where you want him to nor does he stop where you want him to. This doesn’t even have to do with the ice physics. At times, it almost seems like he has a mind of his own.

The question I kept asking myself as I was playing this for the review.

The question I kept asking myself as I was playing this for the review.

Combat in the game is relegated to a staff you receive and later in the game a blow dart gun, that again both have the same issue the platforming controls do. The staff hits its target, yet the enemy takes no damage. I have slowed down the footage and replayed it in slow motion, there is no doubt that you hit the enemy first. But the hit detection is way off, causing many more deaths than necessary because fighting enemies is more difficult than it should be.

Later in the game, Ed receives the ability to use his bow-tie as a glider, and the controls for this actually handle quite well in comparison to the jumping, moving and combat controls. It makes for some of the more interesting levels in the game.

Throughout the game, you pick up antidotes and thermometers. Each level contains 20 antidotes and 10 thermometers. You need 160 antidotes to gain access to the final boss, and for every 10 thermometers you pick up, you gain more health. There are also special items that you pick up that can be traded for new abilities and upgrades. There are a few times in the game where you gain a temporary power boost by eating Popcorn, transforming Ed into “Super Ed” allowing him to more easily fight enemies and bypass locked areas.

The music in the game is bland, yet memorable. This is probably my nostalgia driven brain kicking in, but when I was playing through this game again to prep for this review, my mind recalled all the music and sound effects. The wimpy cries Ed makes as he jumps and takes damage is hilariously offset by the “Arnold Schwarzenegger” persona he dons when he picks up Popcorn. The enemies “Aii” shriek when they die is also quite comical.

The comical grin on his face speaks volumes for this game.

The comical grin on his face speaks volumes for this game.

The graphics are not very memorable. Ed is no more than a purple triangular shaped guy, and most of the enemies you see are various vegetables re-purposed into some sense of sentience. The environments themselves are varied. The game starts in a snowy world, then sends you to a lush and green area, filled with lively vegetable creatures and fauna life. Then you are whisked away to a mountain side, with lava running down the side. The environments leave no impact on the player, and are soon forgotten after you have sold your copy of Tonic Trouble.

The greatest platformers are marked by their ability to make you want to play the game again. In Super Mario 64, the first time you probably didn’t collect all of the stars. Banjo-Kazooie was no different. Yet even if you have beat the game 100%, you will occasionally feel like revisiting the old worlds, letting you relive the amazing adventure all over again. Tonic Trouble provides no such call, as I only played this game again for nostalgia’s sake, and my desire to review it for Nerd Bacon.

Gameplay: 5
Story: 4
Controls: 4
Sound/Graphics: 5
Replayablility: 2
Overall: 5

I think I was hoping on the off chance that I would pop this sucker back into my N64 and it would actually be as good as my childhood brain remembers. It is unfortunately not. It suffers from the same fate that most games that try to imitate the great platformers do: a sub-par recreation of a better game. Tonic Trouble will always be remembered by me as the game my sister and I played for hours on end together, but will sit on my shelf as a reminder that some memories are best left in the past.

Written by Nerd Bacon

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  1. Pingback: Nerd Bacon Celebrates Retroary! (Retro + February = Retroary) - Nerd Bacon Reviews

  2. Well, visually, that is.

  3. This game looks A LOT like Chameleon Twist

    • Hmm I guess I can see that. I always thought of Chameleon Twist to be more upbeat and vibrant though. Tonic Trouble definitely has the “Rayman” vibe and feel though is nowhere near as good of a game.


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