Toto Temple Deluxe is yet another entry into the recently bulging "party game" segment of the Xbox One market. We all know the type of game that the description of the genre conjours up, with those titles generally being a bit limited in single player, but coming alive when like-minded friends pop round with some intoxicating liquor, or if you are suddenly surprised by a roving gang of five-year-olds. It shouldn't come as any surprise to hear that this game follows that pattern, but with a couple of interesting twists.
The only tutorial for play uniquely takes place in the menu system, with game mode, arena, and other parameter selections all controlled by using the game's dash mechanic. It's a very nice touch, and introduces the central plank of the gameplay early. As a single player experience, the pickings on offer here are - as predicted - on the slim side. The only mode that is immediately available to single players is a target smashing, score chasing time-based challenge. Basically, on one of only eight different arenas, the goal is to dash around and smash targets using your chosen Toto, which is a small animated stone statue. In this mode, its all about the controls, and luckily the developers Juicy Beast have done a sterling job here, with no difficulties to be found with the simple joypad inputs. A is mapped to a double jump, and X is teamed up with a directional input to provide a dash attack. Dashes can also be chained, so after practicing sufficiently, you'll be dashing left, then cheekily dashing straight up to catch a target, before dashing back right and down, and so on and so on. When you start to feel like a pro, its also possible to double jump out of a dash, but this does require some serious timing, lest you face plant into one of the platforms dotted around the arenas. Also in single player mode, it is possible to play any of the multiplayer modes with AI bots.
Eight arenas does seem like a very limited selection, but again, each different level has been given a little twist. Five of the levels are available to play straight off the bat, however three have to be unlocked by completing tasks such as blocking 50 times with a shield equipped. The basic level just includes platforms to jump on, over, and around, but other levels include such things as sliding and moving platforms (including a small box that it's possible to get stuck in at the bottom of the screen), destructible blocks that can be smashed with dash attacks, enabling you to almost make your own layout, and even underwater sections. Mastering each of these would not be a five minute job, and three unlockable arenas do add a little bit of longevity to the game.
Multiplayer is where this game comes alive, offering massive amounts of fun for the whole family, friends, pets, or whomever else you can find to play against. In this mode, each player can choose a different colour Toto. There aren't any actual differences between the Totos, but as red is by far the best colour, it is inarguable logic that it is the best Toto. Once everyone has chosen their colour, the choices expand to include "Classic Mode" that requires you to have a goat stood on your head for the longest time and "Bomb Mode" where the goat is transformed into a bomb, and the goal is to have your adversaries inside the blast radius when it goes off, with a team based twist on these modes also available. Also thrown into the mix are various powerups, which range from diamonds that fire a gigantic, four-directional energy blast, to masks that allow the goat to be stolen, by way of magnets, slowdown skulls, drills and all manner of others. There really aren't adequate words in the English language to explain how it feels to have a goat stolen by a sneaky four-year-old, who then goes on to win the match by 8 points out of a 3,000 limit, but suffice it to say it wasn't one of our proudest gaming moments. It is a weird kind of tribute to sheer fun of this mode, that the aforementioned child laughed so hard when playing it that he was almost sick. Stick that one on the advertising blurb, Juicy Beast! Again, the AI can be pressed into service to fill any empty slots in the roster, so the team based 2 vs 2 mode can be played by two people. Its even possible to play a team of two against two AI bots. We are really looking forward to getting the whole family together at Christmas now, to settle some old scores with a goat on our heads.
All is not rosy in the garden, however. The yawning omission of online multiplayer is a real blow when compared to the likes of #IDARB, and feels like a missed opportunity. Unless you have four controllers and a ready supply of friends to pop round for a game, or enjoy playing against AI bots, the multiplayer game is largely locked off, so bear that in mind when deciding whether or not to purchase. We also came across a repetitive bug where if we played the target smashing game with more than one player, the game would freeze every time when it got to the results screen, requiring us to drop out to the dashboard and restart. It's annoying that it wasn't picked up in testing really, but given the limited amount of times you'll be in the situation, it isn't a gamebreaker. The only other complaint is one of size, with four modes available to play over eight arenas it won't be long until you've seen everything, but the random nature of the powerups in multiplayer does add an element of uncertainty.
If you are primarily a single player, then we can't really recommend Toto Temple Deluxe. If, however, you have a group of friends who aren't averse to some couch multiplayer, or have children to entertain, then this provides some decent entertainment for as long as it lasts.