Thanks to Nicalis for the review code
Title: Save Me, Mr. Tako!
System: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Release Date: 10/30/2018
In this action platformer, you take control of an octopus known as Tako, who gets caught in the middle of a fierce war between Humans and Octopi, caused by Octopi stealing human children and the humans retaliating. A prophecy mentions of a time long by where octopi and humans were peaceful allies, so what’s the solution? That’s for Tako to find out…
Not too long ago, I reviewed Jack and Jill DX, and criticized it for claiming to take inspirations from the Game Boy’s monochromatic limitations, only for it to come off as yet another generic looking indie game using pixel art for the sake of a budget. However, Mr. Tako made me a lot more hopeful for it to be faithful to the Game Boy, thanks to the developer mentioning how much he enjoys the system along with promising prerelease coverage.
After spending several hours with this adventure, I’m very happy to say that unlike that other attempt, Mr Tako succeeds in nailing the Game Boy look and feel, as it goes for more than just simply making everything black and white. Right off the bat, you have several different display options, each that can go along well with different ways of play. You have a wide and an 4:3 view, where the screen gets longer on the wide setting in a way that offers for more visibility, so it doesn’t fatten the image! 4:3 makes it more authentic to the Game Boy’s original screen resolution, but also reduces visibility which can make some stages a lot trickier than they would be with a wider view.
However, if you want to get even more authentic, you can reduce the size of these two screens, which will prompt a border to surround it, ala Super Game Boy borders of old. This means your 4:3 image can be nicely fit in the center of the screen with a pretty border surrounding it, or it can be the wider option yet still suffice in providing enough border visibility. Whether you want it to be full screen or zoomed out, the game still looks great, and that’s not even counting the many different color shading options available! True to Game Boy tradition, you can toggle between several different color shades, from the classic Black and White or Black and Green, along with several other color shades to fit your tastes, all with the tap of a shoulder button! (The back shoulder buttons also change the border on the fly, although you do have to back out into the options to change the screen size)
The game mostly succeeds in providing a decent soundtrack, too. It uses chiptunes that reminds me of some mid-90s Konami Game Boy titles, along with a bit of Kirby’s Dream Land, and the tunes remain upbeat throughout the adventure. While these songs unfortunately never get quite as good as some tracks from the games I mentioned, they’re still solid compositions nevertheless that stick in your head long after you quit playing for the day.
Mr. Tako takes place in a stage-by-stage format, similar to your average platformer, with a world map akin to Kirby’s Dream Land 2, in that each world has you going to numbered doors to access a stage, with some of these stages hiding secrets for you to discover if you use a certain item or find a certain door. Tako shakes this formula up even more by adding Zelda II-esque towns and dungeons to the mix with even more goodies to find, although the dungeons here aren’t nearly as long as in that game, though the towns do at least offer up the opportunity to take on some sidequests or play a minigame.
This mix of plot and platforming has been done countless times in other action platformers, but I’ll admit that seeing it done from a point of view similar to Kirby was pretty interesting to see, and none of the levels manage to overstay their welcome, each being a reasonable length instead of a long, frustrating slog like they could have been.
Tako’s main source of attack is his balls of ink that he shoots out of his mouth, which actually don’t kill enemies. Instead, they stun enemies and allow you to use them as platforms, which is a crucial means of exploring each and every stage. The stages in Tako tend to have lots of hidden goodies, from feathers that grant an extra life, to diamonds that will add to an extra life once 100 are gathered.
Once you make it a few levels into the adventure, you’ll soon encounter new things to discover, from collectible hats that completely change Tako’s main method of attack until he’s killed. (One hat makes him slap people with a whip, another makes flowers sprout wherever he goes, along with hat that gives him super speed, while one can allow him to take an extra hit of damage before dying) Some of these hats can be used to access parts of stages that can’t be reached with Tako’s default getup, adding a tiny bit of exploration to these stages, but usually these areas only reward you with extra lives, another hat or a hostage to free, the latter two of which will add to whether or not a stage is deemed 100% completed with a star above its door.
The mini dungeons that pop up from time to time in the worlds is where the game gets a bit more interesting. These areas are where the bosses usually lie, and these fights (along with the stage leading up to them!) will test your platforming prowess and require you to be even more careful with your live count than normal, since even a fully-stocked set of lives can run out quickly thanks to a tricky puzzle or the boss battle.
In conclusion, Mr Tako is a lovely throwback to the Game Boy era, with an excellent artstyle with faithful screen options to boot, along with a more relaxed platforming adventure that still manages to keep you engaged. It’s not too terribly hard to beat the worlds normally, but going for 100% will require a lot more thinking, adding to some replay value after you beat a stage once.
Besides that and a quirky story, the game didn’t really pick up for me until you get the speed hat midway through the game, which allows for a much faster movement speed that in turn makes the game more fun than when you move at the slow, default pace. Still, for nostalgic fans of the Game Boy waiting for a game that faithfully represents that era and everything about it, Mr. Tako is absolutely worth a purchase for that aspect alone. As a standard platformer, though it doesn’t hold up nearly as well as other recent games in the genre, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth checking out regardless!
I give Save Me, Mr. Tako! an 8 out of 10.