Say what you like about fancy level design and clever mechanics that turn everything you know about the genre on its head, but when it comes to 3D platformers there’s really only one reason we return to our favourites again and again: throwing Mario around a course feels fun on an instinctual, sensory level. It’s the fundamental way Banjo, with his little bobbing backpack, instantly responds to our inputs — and the joy we get from performing a perfect sideways somersault in Super Mario 64 or Sunshine or Galaxy or Odyssey — that has us going back to the ‘golden’ 3D platformers. Intricate courses that put your acrobatic skills to the test are important, of course, but the best platformers just feel good to control. So, the greatest praise we can heap on Toree 3D, a super-cheap, micro-sized offering from Diplodocus Games, is that basic locomotion ‘feels’ great.
It’s elementary two-button stuff, with a dash on ‘Y’ and (double) jump on ‘B’, but developer Siactro nails every basic birdy bounce. Each of the game’s nine short courses — linear gauntlets littered with conveyors, moving platforms and fans — features a set number of stars to collect as you scramble though to retrieve Toree’s stolen ice cream (or something) from some evil-looking spirit thing. Unsurprisingly, the game’s not big on narrative, and that’s just fine.
Your speed through each course is graded upon completion, and there are two characters to unlock which provide some incentive to improve your score or grab stars you missed. The game harks back to the low poly platformers of the mid-late 1990s, with the look and feel of an early PlayStation or Saturn game. Pure blue-sky nostalgia would mean nothing if it played poorly, though, and surprising as it may be for a game lingering on the 99-cent zone on the Switch eShop, it plays rather well.
It’s not perfect, you understand; there’s plenty of room for improvement around its central competent core. The camera proves irritating; the inability to invert the Y-axis on the right stick was something we couldn’t acclimatise to over the game’s extremely short playtime (you’ll have breezed through everything in well under an hour). The ‘B’ button is used to confirm on menus, too, (with ‘Y’ to cancel) and you’ll initially try hitting ‘A’ to start the game. Hardly a biggy, but indicative of areas where a little UI polish wouldn’t go amiss.
Going in with diminished expectations no-doubt coloured our impressions, but our brief time with Toree 3D was undeniably delightful. For significantly less than the price of a decent cup of coffee, you get an enjoyably bite-sized, colourful 3D platformer with great music and a fun aesthetic that doesn’t take itself seriously in the slightest — and it doesn’t stick around long enough to get boring, or for its weak points (and inevitable lack of depth) to become an issue. Big studios who feel obliged to stretch games out for dozens of hours could learn a thing or two from its brevity.
So, if you’ve got some unused Gold Points on your account, Toree 3D offers a very solid half hour of platforming pleasure for mere pennies. What’s not to like?