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Important Importables: Toro

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Who’s Toro Inoue? It’s a good question. Especially since Sony hasn’t made a big deal about its white spokescat Toro outside of Japan. He first appeared in Doko Demo Issho on the PlayStation in 1999, and has since gone on to appear in a PSP port of that game, Mainichi Issho, Weekly Toro Station, Toro! Let’s Party! and most recently Minna to Issho: Friend Network for the Vita. His success with his assorted, cutesy games has resulted in him becoming the official Sony mascot for the PlayStation brand in Japan.

However, for all his fame in Japan, Toro is still relatively unknown in other regions. So in today’s Important Importables, we’re giving him some love. We’re talking all about Toro.

What’s up with Toro?

Toro is a cat that wants to be human. Toro! Let’s Party probably does the best job of showcasing his trek, as it introduces him, Koro and all of their other friends. His efforts failed in that game, despite participating in all the events/mini-games that would have allowed his wish for humanity to be granted, because he decided something else was more important. Still, now he continually works towards that goal.

Along the way, he’s acted as a newscaster. He’s best known in Japan as the host of Mainichi Issho, and then later Weekly Toro Station. Both were free PS3 apps that had Toro and Kuro talking about the latest Sony news and allowed people to play some mini-games and take part in quizzes.

He’s also been a bit of a star. There were Traveling with Toro (トロと旅する) movies and TV shorts. As you can imagine, these had him traveling around Japan, chronicling his experiences.

Most recently, Toro and Kuro have been matchmakers. The aforementioned, free Vita app Minna to Issho: Friend Network allows people to create a profile and then find new PlayStation Network friends, also dressing up your avatar and maintaining a virtual garden. It’s considered part of the Doko Demo line though Toro and Kuro’s parts aren’t huge.

Why are we only really seeing him now?

Well, it’s really because Toro is making more appearances in other games. He made brief cameos in Sony’s Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds, LIttleBigPlanet and Tokyo Jungle. In one, he was a golfer, there was a custom of him in the other and in latter of the three he and his friend Kuro appeared as accessories that could look as though they were riding on an animal.

Toro and Kuro also have started appearing more frequently in third party games. Both are playable characters in Street Fighter X Tekken. They also made appearances in White Knight Chronicles 2, Monster Hunter, Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F DLC and Tales of Graces F.

In all of the aforementioned cases, either an iconic Sony character was needed for a cameo or it just didn’t make sense to cut him out. He’s become so popular in Japan that it benefits companies to include him. So, when the game ends up being released worldwide, he pops up with little to no introduction.

It’s PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale that’s really provided the best Toro introduction for people outside of Japan. His storyline in that game mirrors his Toro! Let’s Party! storyline mentioned earlier. He still wants to be human, but now he’s hoping fighting lots of strong people will get him closer to that goal. It works about as well as his Toro! Let’s Party plan, but at least he tried and looked adorable while doing it!

Now that North American and European audiences are more familiar with Sony’s iconic white cat, perhaps we’ll start seeing him around more often. I’m not saying the next Toro game will get a worldwide release, but we’ll probably see and notice his cameos more often and root for him when he appears.

If your Japanese language skills are good, you should probably bookmark Doko Demo Issho.com. It’s the site for all the latest Toro news from Japan.

COMING NEXT TIME: Important Importables talks about Monolith Software

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Important Importables previewed Fire Emblem: Awakening.

Follow Jenni on Twitter for more import game updates and general fangirl enthusiasm!

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