By the unspoken law of videogames, a sequel tends to follow at least a full year after the original, but in the case of HotGen's To-Fu: The Trials of Chi [99¢/ HD], it has been less than six months before we're seeing the follow-up, aptly titled, To-Fu 2 [99¢]. You wouldn’t think much could happen in just those few short months, but what To-Fu 2 lacks in artistic changes, it makes up for in level design chops.
In a lot of ways, it would have been easy to pull a Madden 12 on To-Fu 2 because, for the most part, this is the same game as it was before. The art, music, sound effects, and everything else are pulled from the original. That is, except for one single new feature: you can now charge To-Fu and send him rocketing through wood blockades.
Other than that and a couple environmental hazards, the basic design remains the same. You pull To-Fu in the direction you want him to go, then watch as he flies across the screen. Your goal is to get to a pink fortune cookie at the end of a spike or chainsaw riddled stage. This time around, the game comes packed with 100 levels, but unlike the first one, the levels are more diverse and far more difficult.
Like the first game, you'll have three objectives in each level: finish it, get all the blue orbs, and do it in a set number of moves. In most cases, you'll need to replay a level twice to get everything. The first To-Fu was challenging, but never really displayed any levels that could be called memorable. To-Fu 2 pushes the difficulty up, making it much twitchier, complicated, and ultimately a more memorable game.
There are essentially two reasons why the game is harder this time around. First off, the level design is, to put it bluntly, better. Levels have several tiers and they're mixed up in a way where they don't get stale. Getting all the orbs and completing the level in a set number of moves feels like two distinctive objectives, and totally changes how you get through each stage. The side effect of that is that they're wildly inconsistent. You'll blaze through three or four levels before getting stuck on a particularly hard one. It's not a building process from simple to hard, it's more of a random scattershot of levels thrown together.
They're also a lot tighter. Where the first game would give you a bit of leeway in you movements, this time around, To-Fu will die on you if he even gets close to spikes. It makes the game considerably more tedious and oftentimes annoying, but for the most part, it keeps things interesting by requiring a pinpoint precision with everything you do.
Unfortunately, it retains some of the problems from the original. The game assumes you're willing to trial-and-error your way through certain sections. Since the levels are often rather large, it also means you'll be flying blind a lot, especially during the parts where you have to fly out of teleporters at an exact angle. The screen real estate is made a bit better on an iPad, but during a lot of the sections, To-Fu 2 suffers from the same problem as Angry Birds where you feel like you're kind of flinging him in the general direction of where it needs to go, but never being certain of what the results will be.
Calling To-Fu 2 a sequel seems a little off. While it's not just about the game's artistic direction, To-Fu 2 doesn't offer enough new stuff to really make it feel like anything but an expansion pack to the original. It's a good thing the first game was good and the core formula is certainly worth repeating, but don't expect anything new or special here.
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