We might as well just say it, for those who aren’t familiar with the original Tiki Towers: You’re quite right when you look at the screenshots and wonder if this is a World of Goo clone. It’s similar enough to make lawyers salivate, but from a gamer’s perspective that’s not necessarily a bad thing – particularly when you consider there’s still no World of Goo game on mobile.
There are differences that make Tiki Towers its own game, but it’s never going to see the sun because of the long shadow cast by its clear inspiration. This sequel, called Tiki Towers 2: Monkey Republic, is no different since it builds on the first game in size only. The gameplay is much the same.
You’ve got a box-full of monkeys that need to get to the end of the level, and a handful of bamboo sticks to get them there. The keypad controls a pointer that allows you to place bamboo sticks around the screen that, as long as they’re close enough, connect to existing sticks to form a structurally-sound triangle. By adding more sticks in clever and inventive ways you begin to build a bridge, tower or combination of structures to provide a safe route for the monkeys to climb across and escape.
The linchpin of Tiki Towers is the way in which the towers and bridges are built. Rather than having monkeys climbing all over the constructs as you put them together, they wait for you to finish building before swinging and crashing toward the finish line. A well-made bridge will get them all across safely, while a lesser architect will put together a crumbling, precarious edifice that doesn’t stand up to the assault of simian swingers.
The physics engine is astounding, which means you can genuinely rely on the solidity of your constructs, and only have yourself to blame when it all comes crashing down. What the developer has done to create the sequel is to extend the distance you need to cover with these bridges, which proves to be both entertaining and a problem.
The complexity and size of the puzzles in Tiki Towers 2: Monkey Republic means you have much less freedom to experiment. Each level seems to have a specific solution, so you can no longer fall back on luck or unconventional structures for success. Rather than coming up with inventive arrangements, you’re now scouring the level trying to figure out its specific key.
As impressive as these huge levels are, the entertainment value feels to be somewhat lessened by the fixed nature of the puzzles. It’s easy to see what the game was trying to achieve, and is admirable in its intentions, but we can’t help but feel it has reached a little too far and lost its grip.