I really didn’t want to download Save Toshi, because it looked like a game designed specifically to cash in on people in their Oh My God Japan Is So Cool And Everything About Japan Is Just So Awesome phase.
I don’t like to use the “W” word, but it keeps bouncing around in my mind as I write this.
Still, iTunes kept recommending the damned thing, and I eventually broke down and dropped the two bucks on it.
As an aside, it is surprisingly refreshing to play a game where you can simply spend $2 and be done with it. I think I’ve played too many freemium games of late.
But, to get back to the game, Save Toshi is an iPhone/iPad physics puzzler where you must get Object A, that being a cute pop singer, onto Point B, that being a dance floor. If you get A to B, she dances for you and you move on to the next level.
The levels are made up of blocks of various materials – wood, stone, ice, rubber, a couple of others – all of which have their own properties. Some can be broken, some are quite slippery so other things slide easily across them, that sort of thing. Oh, and there’s dynamite for spice. You manipulate all of these things by throwing baseballs at them.
Toshi dies immediately upon contact with water, by the way, and all of these levels take place in the middle of a lake.
That second picture there, by the way? That’s an early and quite simple level. You simply throw a ball at the dynamite on the left, it explodes and sends the massive green ball flying. It hits Toshi in the back and knocks her on to the dance floor, on the right.
Once she gets on to the dance floor, she cuts loose while the camera spins around her and music plays until you get tired of it and hit the next button.
Every twenty levels or so, you unlock a new outfit for Toshi. Eventually, the end-of-level music changes. If you persevere to the end, the spin around Toshi dips down and you get the inevitable panty shots.
None of this is why you should play the game. Actually, there are some very strong reasons not to play the game, starting with Toshi herself. She’s a caricature of everything that westerners think about Japanese pop culture, complete with horribly racist broken English of the five-dolla-me-love-you-long-time variety, and the first impression I had of the game – that it was a shallow and calculated cash-in on the Cool Japan fad – was also my second and third impression.
Then it started growing on me, because, well, this game may ostensibly be about saving Toshi, it’s actually about being horrible and abusing her. She’s fairly durable, which is essential considering how you knock her around levels on the way to the dance floor, but she’s far from indestructible. In addition to deaths by drowning, which are quite common, you can blow her up with dynamite, launch her into low earth orbit from mainshift seesaws, or simply throw baseballs at her if you’re not feeling inventive. She dies a lot and she’s got a few choice phrases she uses when she dies and comes back to life, and without spoiling them I will simply advise that you download the demo version – if you can’t be arsed to drop the two bucks on the full game – and play it on a day when you are in a dark mood and need something to put an evil grin on your face.
There are even achievements for killing Toshi enough times:
I realized very quickly that this game, is, on the face of it, designed to suck a couple of bucks out of the wallets of the worst sort of anime fans, but it’s also a marvelously therapeutic game for people who are more than a little sick of the the craze and would like to, well, throw baseballs at idol singers with cat ears on. This is, of course, a horrible, horrible thing and I should be ashamed of being such a terrible person.
The game DID give me countless chances to redeem myself, as follows:
You are, from time to time, faced with situations where you have obviously failed the level due to clumsiness but Toshi has somehow survived. You can simply push the “Restart” button to begin the level anew, or you can bean her in the head with a baseball first.
This is a test of character which I frequently failed.