Thanks to Ratalaika Games for the review code
Release Date: 09/18/2020
Tamiku aims to be an arcade scorechaser paying tribute to the NES Black Box era of games, and while I have seen a few other games go for this approach, Tamiku was easily the one that impressed me the most. First off, it’s strictly in 4:3, which makes sense due to that being the resolution for the games that inspire Tamiku. But the sprite art is pretty darn impressive, giving me big Hudson Soft vibes and reminding me of how games such as Lode Runner and Bomberman looked.
The music is also really well made here, with upbeat and cheery songs that fit each of the stages in the game loop, and whenever panic mode kicks in, the speed of the song increases, yet they all sound great still. The sound effects are recognizable and feel NES like, and overall Tamiku nails the targeted aesthetic.
Tamiku tasks the player with clearing each stage of the bombs that litter them. You have very basic, NES-like controls, with only movement and a single button used for everything in the game, meaning that you’ll be jumping and breaking balloons all with any of the four face buttons of your choice. Blue balloons pop on contact, while red balloons require that you stand in front of one and mash the buttons until they burst. Simply dodge all enemies on screen and clear out the level, and you move onto the next one. Halfway through a stage, it’ll go into Panic mode, which makes all the enemies faster and smarter, so you’ll have to plan an optimal route to clear a stage safely.
Each stage follows this trend, but in traditional arcade fashion, the stages do offer differing enemies and layouts to shake things up. It’s nothing too drastic, but if you’ve played a game like Ninja-Kid or Bomb Jack, then you’ll know what kinda level changes to expect. Every four stages, a bonus level will come by, and these are just a blatant clone of the one from Balloon Fight, tasking you with tapping a button and collecting all the flying balloons within the lime limit.
Once you clear out eight stages, the game loop is done, and the game begins anew with more red bombs than before, along with faster enemies. Do it again, and you’ll get the game’s ending. It’s pretty basic, but it does serve a pretty great job at being a short and simple game, with a great scorechasing focus.
In conclusion, Tamiku easily nailed all the sweet spots I look for in a scorechaser: addictive gameplay loops, simple controls, trial and error, it’s all here, and Tamiku does a godly job with it all, to the point I honestly believe this could be made into a NES homebrew game due to just how authentic it feels!
The only real gripes I have with Tamiku are a few: one being that I do wish the game would have an endless, randomized mode that would shuffle the order of stages around, and the other being that the lack of online leaderboards is a real shame, especially due to how this game’s practically screaming for them. Otherwise, this is a really fun scorechaser that I’m pretty proud to have checked out, and I hope the developer makes more great tributes like this!
I give Tamiku an 8 out of 10.