Review: Toast Time (PC)

Toast Time hit the mobile marketplace last year and received high praise for being a fast-paced game that was tailored for mobile devices. This bite-sized shooter clocks in at under 40 MB and features a humorous slant on shooting with a bit of a twist. Beyond playing as toast, you also aim at each enemy — not just in a particular direction. This small difference in mechanics makes for a far more mouse-friendly experience, and it works the same way towards optimizing a shooter for mobile devices as well. Mobile games, however, can be hit or miss on other devices — how does Toast Time hold up on PC?

The best thing about it coming to PC instead of an Android-based console like the OUYA is that it has real pointer controls using the mouse. This means that each enemy can be clicked with ease with an accurate mouse.¬† Toast Time is reminicent of a pre-NES game with how simple its gameplay mechanics can be, but it has a much faster rate of speed than anything from that era can provide. As Terry the Toaster, you’ll shoot all manner of breaded breakfast foods at enemies to protect your clock. This thing needs to count down properly, and protecting it ensures a three-star rating. This combines the arcade-style score attack thrill of games like Angry Birds with fact shooting action, but there are some caveats.

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While there’s a wide variety of weapons to use, there isn’t much depth to the experience. You simply point and shoot at enemies stage after stage while paying some attention to where you are so you can shoot in the opposite direction and position yourself properly. Sure, different weapons are used, but the end result feels largely the same. Toast Time throws a lot at you, but it’s all hollow. That’s not an altogether bad thing — not every game needs a lot of things to do, and there’s a balance between offering up a lot of lean experiences or a few in-depth ones. Unfortunately, Toast Time more closely resembles the former than the latter.

Many types of weapons are available, but they don’t radically change things. The core gameplay is so simple that it’s just a matter of learning the flight patterns of each one to get things done. Generally, just clicking in the direction of the foe is enough — even if they’re not really close by, and everything but the baguette has a large hit box attached to it. There’s even a spread shot that gives you even more leeway with your aim. While the game is a lot of fun to play, it’s clearly meant for small gaming sessions. It’s a technically-fine game, but it’s clear that a PC just isn’t the best way to experience it

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Visually, Toast Time‘s portrait mode gameplay doesn’t hold up nearly as well on a PC. This isn’t a graphical powerhouse, but the dev team has given players a beautiful sight to behold every second it’s played, with no slowdown despite tons of things happening at once. The presentation is a bit unsightly, however, due to the large borders that surround the screen. It’s one thing for a 4:3 game to have borders on it — that’s fairly commonplace, but when you’ve got two-thirds of your screen basically unused, it becomes quickly clear that this isn’t the best device to play the game on. Some mobile games have a seamless transition to larger screens — like Super Hexagon. That works perfectly on PC and on TVs via the OUYA. This game could only work well on PC thanks to mouse support, and probably should have been reworked with a widescreen display in mind.

Its simplistic-looking graphics are impressive due to the color usage, but don’t pop off the screen as much as something like Pixel Rush that does the same thing due to the wasted on-screen real estate. While I’m not a fan of the incredibly-small playing area, I do love all of the visual humor thrown into the customization options. Terry can be customized with a wide variety of silly items, like monocles and top hats, and it adds a layer of charm that is greatly-appreciated.

Charming also describes Toast Time‘s sound design. It boasts a diverse lineup of chiptune songs to listen to, and they’re all fun to hear no matter how many times a stage is replayed to get a three star completion rating. Each weapon’s different sound effect is rewarding, with the spread shot sounding a bit weaker and tinnier, while the almighty baguette packs a punch by just crushing things, and the other weapons fall nicely between those two extremes. There’s a lot to listen to during an average play session, but you never feel overwhelmed by the audio — the developers struck a fine balance between having things go on and making things too frantic.

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Closing Comments:

Toast Time is fun, but shallow. It controls fine with a mouse, but is best experienced on mobile devices, as its phone-sized playing area just doesn’t feel right on a monitor. The quick pace never gets too frantic, and replaying stages isn’t a chore since the shooting is fun. Besides the unsightly pillarboxing, the game is enjoyable to look at and hear, but is hard to recommend as a PC purchase when the mobile version is the superior way to play it and costs less too.
score2.5
 Version Reviewed: PC