Look at This Fucking Box Art #3: TOKI
Welcome back to LATFBA, a series you may have forgotten we sometimes do here because we have not done it since April 2014. We’re gonna change that now.
In the past when we have discussed box art, we usually like to focus on one piece of art that we feel really needs a spotlight, and sometimes other art in the series for contrast. NOT THIS TIME. This time we have every piece of box art for this game that I could find, because they are all equally artistic masterpieces the likes of which would make Michelangelo blush with envy, make Picasso beg for more, and make Rembrandt literally shit blood until he died from dehydration. These covers show the complete character arc of a gaming icon from his meteoric rise to his shameful fall from grace.
This time were going ape… over Toki. That last part was a funny pun until I realized it is actually the games tag line sorta. Buckle up.
TOKI – ARCADE
Some of you, and by that I mean more and more of you, have probably never been to an honest to god, for profit arcade before. The arcade is a mythical place where these things called video games used to be played, and also you could get drugs there. Drugs of all sorts of shapes and sizes, from your run-of-the-mill, salt-of-the-earth bag of marijuana, all the way to some new fangled forms of hallucinogens that at the time were a great and daring new way to spend the next nine straight hours of your life.
And let me tell you, when your at the point of the day where you have eaten a bag of mushrooms and spent the last 45 min arguing with the rooster who lives in air vents about the pros and cons of pulp in orange juice, playing a game about a man who is transformed into an ape that can spit fireballs by a voodoo witch doctor in an attempt to capture the princess of a small south pacific island is just the sorta release you need.
But seriously, mushrooms are just the best.
Now while this art is not specifically box art, because this was originally an arcade game, what else is the arcade cabinet but just a big box for the game. They both serve the same purpose, to protect the games soft, creamy circuitry from oily pizza hands, but also to let you know that yes, this is indeed a game about a monkey being shot with lighting bolts while a giant punk rock hand steals his girlfriend and also there are skulls everywhere and some ill-tempered bird, bug, and fish monsters coming at you. Lastly, that Fabtek did not have a great sense for logo placement.
I mean, tell me one drug better than Mushrooms. Acid? Go screw yourself and your bad trips hippie.
TOKI – AMIGA
It would not be hard to view this version of the piece as an “artists rendition” of the original masterwork, but we need to evaluate this on some of its own merits. First of all, the Voodoo high priest of the original work has turned into Gargamel. This is of course because of that nasty business with the Smurfs your probably read about when you were young. It was very traumatizing, I really don’t want to talk about it any more.
Another thing of note is that human Toki is now blonde. This is of course a bold and risk filled move on the artists part, because the backlash he likely received from the numerous Toki truthers out there likely destroyed his career. Cries of “Show me the drivers license” and “the hair dye was an inside job” no doubt drove the artist to madness and lead him to not sign this piece, ostensibly his magnun opus.
The bold choice to cover up part of the Ocean logo with Toki’s ape paw also illustrates the artists disdain for the status quo. Obviously this was in silent protest to Ocean doing the port instead of the original developer TAD. It also is representative of mans eternal struggle versus nature, the symbolism obviously asking, what are we, if not tiny animals, mere specs of dust, floating in a vast ocean of misunderstanding, left to ponder the existential question of what is our purpose? The merman represents the struggle for all you philistines who can’t put two and two together even when it is staring you directly in your face.
TOKI – LYNX
I find that words do start to fail me right around now. Toki at this point has gone from a chimp, to an ape, now to a monkey with ska mutton chops and a Leave it to Beaver haircut. None of those by the way are what he actually is:
Toki himself is transformed into a Geeshergam, one of the ape-like minions of Vookimedlo, although in his primate form, Toki more resembles a gorilla. – Source: Wikipedia
Thats right, and a Geeshergam, as ANYONE with half a brain would know, would not be caught dead at a Reel Big Fish show, where as this Toki looks like he should be wearing a pair of wayfarers and a tie.
The other disturbing element to this cover is of course the severely horrible case of bowel distress Toki seems to be experiencing. Look, I’m no doctor, don’t be fooled by those business cards I made on Vistaprint, but orange definitely is not a color that should be coming out of you. Regardless of if this is a side effect of the magic spell being cast upon him or some hereditary case of IBS, Toki should absolutely stop by his gastroenterologist at his next earliest convenience and get checked out. You just cannot play with your health like that. Why this artists choose the jungle toilet as his setting is beyond me but I just think it is in bad taste. It also reminds me of this time I took a trip to Mexico. Man that was a messed up time but it all panned out. Mushrooms are just the best.
TOKI – NES
Does the Official Nintendo Seal mean absolutely nothing? How did this pass the high quality standards guidelines that Nintendo put in place for all its games? Was one of the Nintendo game quality inspectors asleep at the wheel when this game came though or something? Did they bribe him? Taito should be ASHAMED of themselves for this.
First of all, not only is Toki now fully a Chimpanzee, he also wears Keds, which is farcical on it’s face, because everyone knows that a chimps preferred footwear are Clarks. Check your facts Taito.
Secondly, and I don’t know this for sure, but is this picture done in colored pencil?
Third, who the fuck is that Tarzan dude in the back with the Robert Z’Dar jaw? Is that supposed to be Toki before he’s transformed? Where’s the lightning bolt? I mean, Toki is right there in the foreground so it cannot be him, so is that just some dude and his lady, casually strolling around the jungle? Is it actually Robert Z’Dar? This game was made back in his heyday so I don’t think he was desperate for body modeling jobs for colored pencil artists, but then again I wouldn’t put it past the Maniac Cop.
And we last present to you, the crowning glory of the Toki box art franchise in its full glory.
TOKI – MegaDrive/Genesis
Hey kids, do you feel like having a fever dream nightmare, well here is the cover to TOKI – GOING APE SPIT. There is quite honestly so much going on in this picture that it is a virtual Where’s Waldo of awful, with new awful things being discovered ever single time I look at it, so I’ll just keep to some key points.
First of all, the 1980s South Beach Miami color scheme logo. Every other cover in the series used the rock motif, but Sega decided that it needed to be a fucking bad ass over here, it just had to be different. Looking at this logo reminds me of those color blindness tests they give you at the eye doctor, except I guess if you are color blind in which case it may just look like a large splotch of color on the cover, which really must make this even stranger.
Next, we have the banana. We get it, he is a primate, they love Bananas. Hardy har har Sega. Every other cover managed to not to use a hack joke like that, why did you have to sink that low Sega? A Banana for the monkey is basically a form of primate racism and quite honestly it is embarrassing. If he was a French monkey would you give him a beret and a baguette? Probably.
Lastly, we have the over sexualization of Toki. There is the obvious double entendre of Toki spitting up a mouth full of balls, but there is so much more subversive stuff going on here. Besides the pose, look at the ridiculous amount of photoshopping that went into this picture. Your going to set unreasonable beauty standards for other monkeys and just hurt their developing sense of self. Don’t believe me? This is what the pre Photoshop picture looked like:
It’s all pretty sobering right. #Tokiisbeautifulontheinside. I mean after all isn’t that what this game is about. Toki’s kidnapped girlfriend loves him because of the man he is on the inside, not the animal he has had to become to rescue her. The symbolism of man having to revert to his more primal nature while still struggling to maintain his humanity.
Mushrooms are just the best.