At first glance, HotGen's To-Fu: The Trials of Chi [99¢ / HD] looks like a riff on the Xbox Live Arcade game Super Meat Boy, but where SMB was a gruelingly difficult platformer, To-Fu takes a more slow-paced approach. That's not say To-Fu isn't difficult, it certainly is in the later levels, but you can generally take your time with it.

You'll touch and pull To-Fu in any direction and release to send him flying through the air. He'll end up sticking to most surfaces and those he doesn't, he'll bounce off, slide down or move up them. It's helpful then that you can get a view of the whole level and all of its obstacles by touching and scrolling too, which becomes an absolute necessity by the end. If you've ever touched a video game at any point in your life, you're going to know which obstacles to expect because they're all here -- every single one of them.

Going back to the Super Meat Boy comparison is easy to do because To-Fu really does look like it took a lot of hints from it, but the problem is that Super Meat Boy took its inspiration from every platformer before it. If To-Fu wasn't a piece of Tofu the inspiration probably wouldn't be as transparent, but both games are certainly deeply seeded in the history of the genre. Spinning wheels of metal, rotating platforms, portals, disintegrating obstacles, lasers, spikes -- all designed specifically to make you die.

And die you will -- a lot. It's not a big deal, overcoming adversity is what makes a game like this rewarding, but the lack of instantaneous restarts is a tad annoying and having to wait out a death animation can be taxing when you're in the mood to just pick up and play quickly.

Thankfully, the level design keeps up with the ridiculous amount of obstacles and across the course of the 100 levels you'll see a lot of innovation in screen setup. Each level has three separate objectives. Most importantly, you need to get To-Fu to the end, marked by a pink fortune cookie. Along the way, you have two supplementary, but not complimentary directives. Scattered throughout the level are blue orbs, which you'll be trying to pick up by any means possible. Contrary to that is a goal to solve the level in a limited number of jumps. Rarely do these two coincide so if you're the type to obsessively finish a game, you'll have to play through them multiple times.

It's that trifecta of objectives that makes To-Fu a game that's likely going to appeal to a broad range of people. You can get through each level with a limited amount of challenge and enjoy the game as much as someone keen on getting everything. It's too bad there isn't Game Center support as it would give people more of an excuse to reach the 100 percent mark.

Visually, the game gets the job done. To-Fu looks great stretching out and sliding down walls, but the backgrounds start to get a bit repetitive as you move along. The music sticks in the back as do the majority of the sound effects, neither drawing much attention good or bad.

The touch screen controls really do work remarkably well and To-Fu: The Trials of Chi does a great job of working with the touch screen, not against it. The depth of challenges here works well, but it would be nice to have some type of meta-game or leaderboards so you could track your progress against others.

TouchArcade Rating

StarStarStarStarNone
  • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

    Best. Icon. Ever.

  • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

    Best. Icon. Ever.

  • Anonymous

    Nice to see Tofu that doesn't take shit from people :D

  • Me

    According to their comments on Touch Arcade, Game Centre is coming in a couple of weeks :D

  • Anonymous

    Anyone have any comments on iPhone vs iPad version here? Seems like the gameplay might be good enough for an iPhone sized screen..

  • Me

    I've bought it on iPhone 4 and it plays really well - a friend has it on iPad and 3GS, and I reckon it looks just as good :) 3GS is surprisingly smooth, but obviously not high res :)

    • http://profiles.google.com/fleshman1992 Laszlo Tuss

      nice.... so the HD is the same, just 3x the price.... rip off again....

      • Emperor Chang

        so the SD version is 1/3rd the price....bargain again...

    • Anonymous

      Does the 'HD' one work on non-iPads then? Or is this the standard version running on the 3GS?
      Would def. be after the HD one if it's multi-platform!

  • Akira01

    For me, this one of the best game for iOS.
    Juste brilliant !!

  • Minotaar

    Love it.  Great game concept and sendoff on Super Meat Boy, but with novel gameplay.  But why oh why have the racist slanty eyes?  I'd give it a perfect 10 if it wasnt for that.

    • TKO

      Racist?  Um, can't the main character be oriental?  It's got a good art-style to it, and so long as they don't portray the character like the asian family on The Wombles, or Breakfast at Tiffany's, I'm cool with it. 

      • boj

        You do realize that many people take offense to being called "oriental", right?

  • Gnoupi

    I agree completely on the frustration from the death animations.

    This is the kind of game in which we die A LOT. It's part of the game, just like Super Meat Boy or VVVVVV. But please, please, developers, even if the animations are cute, please allow us to skip directly to respawn.

    Because after the 20th time in a row I get caught in a laser, it becomes very frustrating to wait 6 seconds to start again.

  • kel

    This game is so fun. I agree with it! The icon is the best icon i ever had! HAHA
    Get it while its cheap. No regrets!

  • anon

    Wow I almost missed this article due to it having no screens on the homepage amidst all the other titles shown, thankfully the logo was cool and it made me click the link! I'm glad I did ... Will definitely buy

  • Mnorman

    Hi guys, Just a quick update from Team To-Fu 
     
    For those of you interested. We've been listening to all your great feedback and you'll be pleased to know that indeed, Game Center is coming in our next update very soon. We will also be looking to address a shorter Death animation so that you can all continue to get pinging a lot quicker :)
     
    Thank You all for your continued support, the response so far has been truly overwhelming for us here, and as always please continue to give your feedback whether it be good or bad! :)

  • Qsix

    Yawn, Seen it all before and why does the HD version cost $2.99 when it's the same content as the SD $.99 version?

    • Anonymous

      It's not the same content it's HD.

To-Fu: The Trials of Chi Reviewed by Thorin Klosowski on . Rating: 4