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Tonic Trouble

Rated E for Everyone


Nintendo 64 (N64)


Ubi Soft


Ubi Soft


September 1999

ROM Size:

128 megabits




3D Action/Adventure


Controller Pak (38 pages)





> Final Rating: 3.4 out of 5.0


Ubi Soft's Tonic Trouble was originally scheduled for release in 1998, but the game got pushed back and, subsequently, got lost between the company's two other superior platform games: Rayman 2 and Rocket: Robot on Wheels. If Tonic Trouble were released when it was originally scheduled to come out, then game would have fared better. Nevertheless, the game does offer an interesting gameplay structure for the tired 3D action/adventure genre.

Gameplay & Control

Mothership Albatross has returned from another exploration mission. That means lowly janitor Ed has to clean up the space oddities storage room. Unfortunately, the klutz spilled a can of tonic that fell to Earth! The can of tonic has caused mutations of humans, plants, and animals everywhere. Since Ed is responsible, he's sent to clean the mess. The problem is, a lowlife cretin named Grogh drank the tonic and declared himself all-powerful ruler of Earth. Fortunately for Ed, he has allies named The Doc, Suzy, and Agent XYZ to help him restore order.


Tonic Trouble screams originality from its story to its character design. It might seem to have something in common with Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, but that's only because you have to destroy mutant carrots, corncobs, tomatoes, radishes, and more. Other weird mutated creations can be found in the game, too. The game's hero, Ed, is markedly strange himself. Just like Ubi Soft's other hero, Rayman, Ed doesn't have arms or legs—only hands and feet!


Surprisingly, Tonic Trouble doesn't play like your standard 3D action/adventure game. Rather than have numerous free-roaming, miniature worlds in which you must complete multiple objectives, Tonic Trouble feels more like a 2D game in a 3D world. What is meant by that is that each world is split up into linear sections that usually have confined paths. Warp portals connect the different parts of the world, and you can travel back and the forth between sections. But the good thing is that the gameplay is set up to be linear mostly, so you don't have to go back and forth, exploring every nook and cranny. Each world is a straightforward romp.


This doesn't limit the gameplay, either, because each little section is filled with numerous traps, enemies, and puzzles. You also start at the beginning of each section—instead of the beginning of the whole world—when you die. The game seems to save automatically as you enter each portal, too. A fixed camera perspective always gives you the best view. Most likely, the game's extra development time was spent tweaking the sweet camera angles.


Some of the levels you'll encounter in Tonic Trouble are the Ski Slope, South Plain, Doc's Cave, Vegetable Headquarters, North Plain, Canyon, Glacier Cocktail, Pyramid, and a few others. An aboveground outer world is the hub to the main action levels. All action levels, however, are inside or enclosed with specific paths that limit the need for exploration and focus on platform perils and action sequences.


Your first major objective in the game—once the Ski Slope is conquered—is to traverse Doc's Cave in order to free the Doc from captivity. Once the Doc is free, he can build inventions that will help you on your quest to find Grogh. You have to find pieces of his inventions, however, that are scattered throughout each world first. As you and Ed progress through the game, you'll gain a stick for a weapon, you'll get a more powerful blowpipe, you'll learn how to fly, you'll start to swim in deep water, you'll find out how to use a pogo stick, and you'll be told how to become a chameleon. Once you find and fix the popcorn machine, you can transform into Super Ed to kick some major butt. With each new learned ability, you can re-visit levels to reach previously inaccessible items and locations. Just know that you have to complete the whole level again to receive credit, which is dumb.


The main reason to re-visit levels is to collect antidote, which is required for bonuses and to combat the effects of the tonic once you fight Grogh. Other objects you'll come across are thermometers, mercury drops, and extra lives. Ed's energy meter is a thermometer. Initially, there are four segments on it. But if you collect 10 thermometers, you'll increase Ed's life bar by one. As expected, mercury drops restore energy segments. You'll come across many extra lives, too, which make the game a little too easy. Finally, you'll find bees, which are the ammunition for Ed's blowpipe.


Tonic Trouble has very little in the way of options. You can change sound effect and music volume levels. You can switch between stereo and monaural output. You also can toggle the camera type between One Second, Static, and Dynamic. The default "One Second" option is your best choice. It works by making its way slowly to a view behind Ed as you run and turn through the levels. The Static view won't turn around to a view behind Ed; instead, you'll run toward the screen from time to time. The Dynamic view seems to always follow Ed, trying to get as close a view as possible.


When you first start playing Tonic Trouble, the control seems a little slow. It also seems a little unresponsive when jumping from platform to platform for the first time. As it turns out, once you get used to the control, it works quite well—so long as you remember to keep an eye on your shadow.


The basic control scheme uses the Control Stick for movement, of course. The A button enables Ed to jump. Pressing it twice will enable Ed to fly once he learns that ability. The B button lets Ed swing his stick—once he acquires it, that is. The R button presses switches, lifts objects, acts as a lever when used with the stick, and activates the blowpipe. Other button combinations are needed for the other learned abilities, too. You also can use the C buttons to control the camera manually. As a final note, the Z button instantly moves the camera position behind Ed—a nice touch.

Graphics & Sound

The visuals in Tonic Trouble aren't marvelous from a technical standpoint, but there is much to like. For instance, everything is bright and colorful, not blurry, with no clipping problems and zero fog. The textures used for the levels fit very well with the cartoon-esque nature of the game. Character animation is very good, too, as you'll see in some of the moments that are more humorous. Finally, the camera work is impressive. Tired of fighting the camera in 3D games? Well, you won't have to do that anywhere near as much here, because numerous pre-determined, fixed camera views have been programmed.


The whimsical nature of the sound fits in line with the cartoon-like graphics. Musically, the game ranges from movie-like, suspense-filled scores to music from your Saturday morning cartoon to upbeat tempo music with lots of percussion. The sound effects are equally fitting because of their cartoon-style elements. On top of all this, the quality for everything is rather high. Nice job. The only downside is that voice is non-existent.


Tonic Trouble has many things going for it. It has an original, fun storyline. It has well-designed levels that focus on action and platforming, not on exploration. It has a well-done cartoon-like presentation. It has great camera work compared to other similar games. But there is one glaring problem: It suffers from being too little, too late.


Nintendo, Rare, and even Ubi Soft (with its newer games) all have raised the bar with 3D action/adventure games by entering new territories into terms of gameplay, graphics, and sound. As such, the original style of Tonic Trouble is refreshing, but the gameplay doesn't offer much new. It's been eclipsed by others in the genre in every aspect. Nevertheless, if you want more action and less exploration, you owe it to yourself to give Tonic Trouble a test play.
















Not available.


Review by: Scott McCall

First Reviewed: May 17, 2000

Appendix Added: N/A




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