Wednesday, February 2, 2000

12:12 PM
Syko Toy, from Nitrostream Inc., is an online multiplayer game with a style that is reminiscent of Pokemon. It is downloadable from the website for a monthly fee. You are given your own toy to train and send into battle against the toys of other players. The description on the website appeared exciting, with a nice variety of different toys and a lot of action.

The goal is to train your toy to gain the best ranking that you can among the other players. When you register, there is a tongue in cheek series of multiple-choice questions designed to make the toy fit your own personality. You are also able to choose your personal style, which changes the kind of music that plays in the background during the game.

Once I had my Syko Toy ready to go, I checked out the training procedure. Your toy is trained in several different abilities, strength, courage, accuracy, defense and "tuffness". These abilities are increased through the use of separate minigames. To raise strength you chop bricks, karate-style. The accuracy game is a test of your reflexes. You must hit targets that pop out from every angle at blinding speed.

The defense trainer is similar to the accuracy one, but you are given a sword and must block the barrage of attacks rained on you by large padded fists. The game that determines your tuffness involves you chopping logs as they roll down a chute and ducking the odd one that bounces down and tries to flatten you. The attribute I had the most trouble with was courage. You have to grab these coins that appear in the air between electric conductors that periodically send a charge of electricity right through the coin.

Every now and then a buzzsaw blade will whiz along the floor, which you must jump over. If the blade hits you or you get zapped with electricity, you lose all of your coins and your score goes back down to zero.

After training your toy to an acceptable level of butt kicking, it's time to challenge other players. The top right corner of your screen lists potential sparring partners who are online. Click on a name and you bring up a window that displays total victories and losses, and how many Kreds they have.

Kreds are the currency you use to make bets with when you challenge someone. The more Kreds you have, the higher your ranking is. Once you choose an opponent, you can send them a message to negotiate a fight, or challenge them, after determining the amount of Kreds you are willing to wager on the fight. The actual fight sequence is automated. The outcome is determined by which of the toys is better trained. To the victor go the Kreds.

There are periodic tournaments in Syko Toy as well. One tournament awards the owners of the top ten toys with Syko t-shirts, while the number one toy also receives a GameBoy Advance system and a game.

Another interesting feature is eyeball ranking. This is based on how many other players choose to view your toy card. This card shows your toy's personality and favorite weapon. Syko Toy records each time your card is viewed from the web. After a certain number of eyeballs your card will change colors to reflect your new ranking.

Syko Toy is like playing an especially violent Saturday morning cartoon. There is no gore but instead cute stuffed animals are whipping chainsaws and spears at each other in the fight scenes. The graphics are colorful and attractive except for the training scenes, which look like old monochrome GameBoy graphics. I love the music. It is totally infectious and spirited and puts you in the perfect mood for laying some virtual smack down on your fellow toy trainers.

I had a great time with this game. Its light-hearted tone and uncomplicated playing style is totally addictive. The ability to challenge others to battle adds a great deal to this title's replay value. I can see office workers sneaking a few minutes of Syko Toy when the boss isn't around. I think it's worth a peek.

* There is a new version of Syko Toy due to be released in a few weeks that will include a different training system and upgraded features.*

Graphics 8
Syko Online Review by Cherry
Gameplay 7
Sound 8
Value 9
Overall 8


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