Games like Duck Game and the launch hit Towerfall have shown that the OUYA is the place to go for couch-based multiplayer gaming. Now, Toto Temple Deluxe joins the fray from Juicy Beast Games. They brought the excellent Knightmare Tower to the OUYA for its launch, and already have one of the system’s best titles under their belt thanks to that. Toto Temple Deluxe is a faster-paced version of the arena battle genre that has helped the OUYA stand out, and features a much brighter palette that evokes early SNES platformers and a greater emphasis on platforming with less placed on action. There’s more mode variety here as well, with traditional deathmatch-style point totals as well as a team-based setup that mixes things up a lot.
The core concept is a tad bizarre — even for an OUYA game. As either a yellow, red, blue, yellow or green character you want to get to 3,000 points before anyone else in the traditional deathmatch/versus setup. There’s nothing strange about that in theory, but the execution of it involves trying to get a goat. Literally, you’re not trying to get under anyone’s skin here, you’re actually trying to grab a goat. Doing so nets constant points per second ranging from 20 to 30, and it means you’ll rack up points quickly if things go well for you. However, while you’ve got the goat, you can’t dash around to either get around quickly or daze foes. The dash isn’t just a way to get from A to B, it’s also the only way to defend yourself. The pros of getting the constant points must always be weighed with the cons of being so vulnerable. While all of this is going on, coins ranging from small bronze ones to giant gold ones will pop up. Players without the goat can grab them easily, while those with the goat have to hope they pop up close to them.
There’s an interesting risk/reward element at work here that makes the game more rewarding than it would otherwise seem to be in theory. Doors also pop up mid-round to help block off the dash-capable players and give the goat-carrier a bit more time. Of course, this can also work against the goat-carrier since they could wind up with no escape route and a couple of enemies right next to them. In that scenario, they’ve got all the options, and the other players’ only real hope is for one of them to go after the goat-carrier and miss, taking the door out, and giving you a clear path and more time to get points. Similarly, the mid-game level shifting can be treacherous. One map has a series of stones that lock into place temporarily to form a shelter. If you’ve got a goat and some good timing, you can nearly guarantee a win there while everyone else lies. They can plot an attack, but they can’t predict just which side will open up first, allowing the sheltered goat-backed warrior a chance to escape without getting knocked loopy. There’s no way to abandon the goat either, so you’ve got to commit to it and hope that things work out well or you’re out of luck.
Games are played in a best two out of three setup for both the deathmatch mode and the team-based mode. The team-based setup is basically the same idea, but it pits two against two or one. This little wrinkle adds a lot of drama because games can turn into a Keystone cops routine with folks bonking into each other because you get so used to playing for yourself in this, and then the person with no partners is able to eek out a win thanks to a combination of skill and a bit of luck. The two-on-two sessions have a bit less built-in drama, but can still be a ton of fun. Given how limited the gameplay is, it’s amazing how much depth there is thanks to the strategy you have to employ in order to win. As per usual with these games, it’s a shame they’re not online to extend the fun even more, but as local multiplayer games, they’re still amazing. Toto Temple Deluxe has a very simple control scheme with O jumping and U dashing, which equates to an X/Square setup when using a PS3 controller. Either the left stick or d-pad can be used to move, and controls with either pad are nice and responsive.
Visually, Toto Temple Deluxe keeps Knightmare Tower‘s bright color scheme alive in a different genre. Whereas that was a vertical runner, this gives you a bright platform-filled environment with a wide variety of environments to look at. Whether you’re in a temple with diggable dirt, or an underwater one with everyone wearing snorkels, you’ll be impressed by how many little touches little each stage. The color schemes for each stage stand out, which helps make each map seem much different visually. Each character looks a bit like a popsicle with a stick attached to it. The only difference between them are the face design and the colors, which are so vibrant that they’re all really easy to see against all of the backgrounds. In a very wise move, none of the characters blend into the background due to how different the colors are — even the blue character stands out from the underwater stage’s blue backdrop due to how light the character’s shade of blue is compared to the turquoise blue of the background. Character animation is fairly smooth, but not too smooth — with a game like this, you want things to be fast-paced and not bogged down by animation that is too smooth for its own good. However, you also don’t want things to be animated in such a way so that it looks cheap, and it’s a fine line to walk. The devs struck a fine balance here, and the end result is a fine-looking game in every way.
Toto Temple Deluxe‘s audio is enjoyable, but not all that memorable. The soundtrack is very cheery, with a nice Aztec vibe for that map and a Spongebob-style arrangement for the underwater level. The sound design is impressive on the whole thanks to little touches like bubbles bursting underwater, rocks smashing and the sound of the aforementioned makeshift shelter’s rocks sliding around. It’s a shame that the music isn’t a little better though, because it’s fun to listen to, but won’t stick around after you finish playing the game. Still, with a drink or two in you, it’s pretty easy to start loudly singing to it.
Toto Temple Deluxe is a must-play for anyone who enjoyed Towerfall or Duck Game. It offers up the same kind of frantic games, but speeds it up even more and has more interactive levels than either of those. The concept is a bit limited, but what little the game does, it does very well. It controls smoothly with either an OUYA or PS3 controller and its two-button setup is easy to learn. The graphics are bright and colorful with a lot of life in the environments, while cheery music takes the sting out of every loss.