PSN Review 'topatoi™: The Great Tree Story' is Not Another Shooter (PS3)

By: Louis Edwards

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- By Louis Edwards

On the PlayStation store you have been able to find a wide variety of games for your PS3. The majority of the smaller titles have been shooter based and not very innovating. Now ‘topatoi™: The Great Tree Story’ has arrived and it is a welcome change to what seems like a shooter based gaming world. This is the premiere episode with promises of many more episodes to come.

Gameplay

The story begins with Raph, his girlfriend, and the ‘Professor’ flying along in their blimp like vehicle. Raph apparently isn’t the smartest person on the craft, he did forget their map, but the Professor gave him the task of engaging the rocket boosters anyway. ” That’s the lever on the left? No? Oops! My bad.”

Their ship crashes into a strange and unexplored new world. The world is a tree, and a huge tree at that. Raph’s girlfriend decides to go against common sense (and the Professor’s instructions) and leaves the ship on foot. She is quickly grabbed up by a huge blackbird, the villains name is Blackwing, and is carried away. What story is complete without a damsel in distress?

The Professor, in his infinite wisdom, has created a neat little craft that will help Raph on his journey to not only find his girlfriend, but also find parts to fix their broken ship. The GEMMA, the Gyroscopic Exploration Multidimensional Multiterrain Apparatus, is Raph’s new craft that he will use to explore this new world and hopefully find what he seeks. R2 speeds it up and L2 slows it down with the left analog stick providing the direction.

GEMMA

The G.E.M.M.A.

As the story progresses, you learn that the GEMMA does more than just travel along your path. It can not only jump, but  push and pull objects as well. The craft does require fuel, and this is provided by little blue globs that can be found in quite a few places. Using double tap (power) moves with the GEMMA requires extra fuel and there’s also a separate gauge that has to refill before another power move is available. If you do happen to run out of fuel, you’ll have to start the level over from the beginning. (One quick tip on double jumping: Wait until you are about half way across a gap before hitting the jump button the second time.)

Each of the seven levels in story mode also have a certain number of stars that can be found in different places as you travel along. Find all the stars on any one level, and you earn a Bronze trophy. Any three levels earns you a Silver Trophy and finding all of the stars earns you a Gold trophy.

The amount of stars found, and the amount of fuel left, adds to your overall score which is posted onto an online leaderboard.

As Raph travels along, you realize that the path is wrapping around the trunk of this great tree, and is constantly moving upward. If you fall off of the path, and you will, you will restart at your last checkpoint. Checkpoints seem to be around every turn, so falling isn’t that bad.

Checkpoint

Just Passed a Checkpoint

Along the path you will encounter puzzles that require you to use the GEMMA’s special abilities in order to progress, and their difficulty isn’t too hard, but adds another enjoyable dimension to the game.

Other than the fine feathered villian Blackwing, there is one other bad guy you’ll need to look out for. He doesn’t have a name, but he does have something similar to the GEMMA and will try to push you off the edge of a platform.

Once you’ve completed all seven levels in story mode, there are fourteen unlockable levels in arcade mode. Ten are for single player and 4 are for split screen multiplayer.

Splitscreen

Split Screen Multiplayer

Graphics

The game plays at 720p and isn’t a bad looking game. It’s definitely not the quality of Ratchet & Clank: ToD, but it’s also a downloadable title that requires very little disk space (204mb).

The different levels are very colorful and well designed. The images come across very bright and sharp on my LCD, and are top-notch for a small downloadable PSN title.

Sound

The soundtrack for the game is very light and soothing. Not something I would want on my mp3 player, but fits the gameplay very well. Well thought out score which changes at the right times, make it an enjoyable game to listen to while you play.

Multiplayer

Currently the only multiplayer aspects are for split screen, but there are hints that this may change with a later update or add-on.

The splitscreen modes are:

  • Spinning Fast – Simply a race to the finish
  • Face Off – Air hockey using the GEMMA
  • Ball Battle – Unique form of dodgeball played on your GEMMA
  • Fast and Furious – A race to the finish, but with obstacles which you can enable for the other user to have to face.

The Final Word

Boolat Games has created a unique platformer that reminds me of games like Ratchet & Clank and Jak & Daxter. In this gaming age of shooters, it is very nice to see someone trying something different, and succeeding. Some might think, at first glance, that this game is for the little kids, but it really offers something for all ages. For $9.99 it could be longer in story length, and maybe give a little more information on exactly who these people are and where they came from, but it is still a delight to play. The puzzles could definitely have been harder, but that may have taken the overall appeal away to all audiences.

There is a slight learning curve to controlling the GEMMA, and it doesn’t always function just like you want, but it does get the job done.

The story is open ended and allows for future content, and I’m actually looking forward to new levels and finding out how the story progresses. New puzzles, levels, and abilities are also promised from within the game’s online store menu.

The Scorecard

85%

+ Unique gameplay

+ Welcome change from shooters

+ Colorful and well thought out levels

+ Soothing music

- Weak storyline

- Rather short game

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