Platforming is an important part of the GBA’s lifecycle, but Tak is overshadowed by other superior games on the system. Tak is nothing more than average, but fans of the console versions will probably appreciate it.
Tak and the Power of JuJu has a somewhat confusing story. Instead of the FMV’s that the console versions can produce, the GBA is forced to tell the story through short and unclear conversations between characters. From what I understand, an evil power has turned Tak’s tribe into sheep and it is up to him to right was has been wronged. The narrative text and conversations should have contained a little bit more substance to unravel the story.
The story is never really all that important if you have solid gameplay. Unfortunately, Tak lacks in this department as well. Players will run and jump their way through eight different worlds that are divided into sub-levels. And naturally, what would a platforming game be without a form of attack? Tak will start the game with a simple blowgun that can only stun, and not kill, enemies. After some time, upgrades will be found. This blowgun isn’t the best weapon to use in this game as using the ax provides a much greater level of efficiency. The blowgun can also be difficult to aim in the heat of action. Players can shoot straight in the direction they are facing, or straight up. Shooting on an angle can be difficult if trying to shoot from a static position. However, if the “R” button is held down, the player can aim without moving. This remedies this problem but it still isn’t the smoothest move to pull off.
Animals and different suits will be waiting for the player from time to time. This is a simple way to spice things up. However, even with changing costumes, the player will probably become bored after a few levels. I kept killing the same creatures over and over. Since the beginning levels only allow the player to have a stun attack blowgun, enemies must be killed by using other methods. Pretty much the only way to eliminate a baddie is to shoot a nearby beehive and have the swarming hive take out your enemy for you. A stun shot might not be the best way to open a game because players might not have the patience to unlock a more powerful weapon.
Spread throughout each level are sheep. These sheep were once the townspeople and Tak must rescue them all?. or does he? There doesn’t seem to be any penalty or reward for collecting these hidden sheep. In not sure what the developers where thinking when they put the sheep in the game. Why make the player do something if it holds no relevance to the rest of the game. Plus, if you finish a level and miss some sheep, there is no way to go back unless you start the entire game over. Strange.
There are other platforming problems besides the stun gun idea. It seems like there is some spiky bushes placed about every ten feet in this game. I would have liked to see some different obstacles throughout each level. The strangest part of this game takes place right after you destroy an enemy. For example, in the beginning stages, Tak will encounter some rat/dog looking thing. Whatever it is, it is some kind of moving animal. As previously stated, the only way to kill these creature is to awaken a nearby bee’s nest and have the bees do the dirty work. After the swarm of bees kills the enemy, a big explosion follows. Why do living animals explode? Shouldn’t they fall over or bleed? I’m not sure why they end in a ball of smoke and fire, but the explosion is very well done and highly detailed.
The game difficultly seems to fluctuate from time to time. One level will be very easy, and the next very hard. On the more challenging levels, the developers seemed to notice this problem and they tried to fix it by placing many health recovery items throughout the level. The player’s frustration level will change with the inconsistent difficulty.
The best part about this game are the graphics. I was very shocked to see high quality images. Character sprites and backgrounds are very well done. The music isn’t that bad either. You won’t mind keeping the sound on instead of turning up your radio or CD player.
The bottom line is Tak is game that doesn’t seem to reach its full potential. It has everything it needs to be a solid game, but many minor flaws bog down the game play. Because of these flaws, Tak can only be seen as an average title. Perhaps if this game was released early in the GBA life time, it would have looked better. But Mario and Metroid Fusion leave this game in the dust.