When it comes to 3D platformers, originality is often overlooked in favour of emulating the classics. Although Poi is clearly inspired by Super Mario 64, does it offer a unique and enjoyable adventure?
Poi allows you to control either a male or female explorer. There isn't much story to speak of as you're generally tasked to simply explore the world. As you do, you'll uncover a wealth of treasures and complete a large variety of missions within the handful of environments. The core gameplay merely involves running, jumping, and using an assortment of explorer tools. These tools include items such as a telescope, shovel, camera, compass, and magnet. They're all very handy in certain situations and you'll unlock all of them quite early on if you're the kind of gamer who collects every coin they come across. Anyway, the campaign is laid out very similarly to Super Mario 64 except you collect medals instead of stars for completing missions, etc. Heck, the main character can even do a triple-jump that looks exactly like Mario's. Overall, the gameplay is familiar and fun while also being simple enough so anyone can enjoy it.
The world of Poi looks fantastic and is oozing with charm. You'll find yourself exploring places such as forests, volcanoes, and a desert construction site. Each area comes to life with colourful palettes and subtle yet detailed features. You'll also come across an assortment of NPCs who are all delightful to talk to, especially the quirky creatures that you interact with. As you play, a fun-filled orchestral score plays that sets a perfect tone for exploring. In the end, Poi: Explorer Edition is a great looking and sounding experience.
The central hub of Poi is onboard an airship. From there, you can steer a giant wheel to access the main areas or hop off the side to glide to a collection of extra points of interest. Within the main stages, you'll complete a collection of challenges that award you with medals. You'll also discover things that you can trade with NPCs for more medals such as golden gears, photos, a list of interesting locations, and fossils that you unearth. Other areas within the hub allow you to visit various NPCs and play an array of mini-game challenges and races. As you can tell, there are quite a lot of different things to do and goodies to collect which is perfect for completionists.
Although there is a good variety of content, there sure aren't many areas to explore. Besides the tiny introductory Forest stage and the small unlockable Snowland, you'll work through Cozy Canyon, Mount Magma, Sinking Sands, and Crystal Cavern. This is unfortunate because you'll find yourself entering the same few stages over and over again in order to master them and it gets repetitive fast. Also, the campaign is rather short and can be completed within a few hours if you're efficient at 3D platforming. On top of that, very little challenge is presented here so anyone with even a bit of skill can complete the entire campaign without much difficulty.
Finally, the core gameplay is very similar to Super Mario 64 (as I've already mentioned) but it doesn't feature many unique aspects that set it apart besides the explorer tools. Therefore, the simplistic take on 3D platforming may be fun but it's undeniably uninspired.
Poi: Explorer Edition is ultimately a Super Mario 64 clone that doesn't do much to stand out in the genre. That being said, its charming world and simplistic gameplay make it a great game for children or if you just want to wind down after a long day.
- + Familiar, enjoyable, and accessible 3D platforming gameplay
- + Charming world and great music
- + Plenty of goodies to collect
- - Gameplay is a bit too simplistic and doesn't feature many innovative aspects
- - Short and unchallenging campaign
- - Very few environments to explore