Save Me Mr. Tako
Reviewed by Shaun Hughes (@reviewsbyhughes)
Developed By : Chris Deneos
Published By : Nicalis, Inc.
Category : Action, Platformer, Adventure
Release Date : Oct 30, 2018
Immediately upon loading Save Me Mr. Tako for the first time, I was transported back to the first day I held a Gameboy. A momentous day, and one that continues to live long in the memory, it was a fitting start to my Mr. Tako experience. I couldn’t help but to sit back and enjoy the dulcet tones of the main menu as the scrolling text informed me of an ancient world that was once ruled by the mighty octopus. In a rather unusual twist, it then proceeded to share that humans had then descended upon earth and destroyed the peaceful existence with which the octopodes (research has suggested this is the correct plural for octopus, rather than the often quoted octopi – you learn something new every day!) The hope of the land now rests in your tentacles.
After coming round from my reminiscent daydream, I pressed A and was presented with two options: Play or Settings. I naturally jumped for the settings, as prior to receiving the game, I had read about the option to customise the screen display for true retro feels. With 17 different palette selections to choose from, I was not disappointed. I opted for the classic green as I felt it was the one most suited to the occasion, and began my journey across the 6 worlds on offer.
It’s coexistence or no existence…
To provide some context to Save Me Mr. Tako, a series of on-screen ‘cutscenes’ indicate that Mr. Tako is a rather helpful octopus who saves a woman from drowning one late evening. As a result, he is given the ability to survive on land by an observant fairy and he is to use this to bring together the humans and octopodes to live as one. To this end, he uses his ink spit to turn his enemies into platforms to traverse the worlds he enters and teach the warring factions the meaning of tolerance and coexistence.
Save Me Mr. Tako immediately showed its hand to me, with on screen text, lacking in both adjectives or additional information, sharing the storyline quickly and efficiently. It was from here I was then able to explore the 2D landscape in all its glory. After a short period of exploration, I appeared outside a dungeon aptly marked with a number 1. Inside, I was offered the opportunity to engage with enemies by shooting them with ‘Y’. Whilst doing so, I watched as the ‘ink’ bar slowly decreased. This then occurred at a more rapid rate if I held it down for burst fire. In a style not too dissimilar to Sonic the Hedgehog, a sign post appeared part way through which signified a checkpoint. This was most welcome: one wrong move and a life is lost.
Stand out from the crowd
After exploring the dungeon, defeating the enemies and successfully achieving the objective, a star or similarly appropriate icon appears above the dungeon entrance. As you progress further and complete more dungeons, more are unlocked. Sounds very much the average platformer of days gone by at this point. It didn’t take long, however, for Save Me Mr. Tako to showcase what makes it stand out from the crowd. I was introduced to a store owner who sells hats. Each hat has its own unique power or accessory which makes for a very interesting change of pace to the game, depending on the hat you are wearing. With 50 different hats to unlock and special abilities to experience, it sure gives Mario’s Odyssey sidekick ‘Cappy’ a run for his money. I thought it was an ingenious way to provide variety and I was always excited to see what impact the new hat would have on the gameplay.
The game offers many different opportunities to interact with the environment, from the dungeons themselves to side quests, puzzles and mini-games. Exploring the 16 different dungeons is a joy and provides ample opportunity to practice your problem-solving skills: something I have particularly enjoyed during my time with the game so far. It has been well-designed to challenge without becoming frustrating, which can often be an issue in games of this nature. You have to be very creative to traverse through the dungeons, accessing platforms using your enemies as climbing apparatus and thinking of inventive ways to utilise the attributes associated with the hat you are wearing. The interaction doesn’t stop there though, as the NPCs you encounter are both interesting and memorable. For a game harkening back to the days of the Gameboy, self-proclaimed by the developer as a ‘tribute to the original’, it sure has a lot of character and serves as an excellent reminder that the elements required to create a good game remain largely unchanged.
After my first hour with the game, I had unlocked 2 of the 50 hats, completed three dungeons and defeated one boss in a very familiar ‘boss battle.’ Having referenced Sonic the Hedgehog once already, it feels odd to do so again however it very much feels the same as when Doctor Eggman appears on screen. The boss moves around the screen attempting to attack you, and you have to dodge before making your own advances to defeat them. I enjoyed these battles as they were inventive whilst also ensuring they didn’t hault the storyline or gameplay too much.
Music is what feelings sound like
In yet another example of the developers’ exceptional throwback to games of yesteryear, the audio composed by Marc-Antoine Archier (@M_A_Archier) is outstanding. I often feel the true reflection of a soundtrack’s quality is evident most when it is absent. On occasion, I have to play my Nintendo Switch with the volume off, and this is something I was unwilling to do where Save Me Mr. Tako is concerned. The atmosphere created when listening to the audio was a joy to experience and I did not want to miss out on this. It also served as a constant reminder of all that I felt when playing the Gameboy in my youth – this was always going to be a win-win for the development team!
Save Me Mr. Tako is exactly what it says on the tin, “a tribute to the original Game Boy— looks, sounds and plays like a long-lost cartridge for that beloved handheld game system.” It is, however, so much more than that. It offers a surprisingly deep storyline with a wealth of different gameplay variants which make it fresh and inviting. For some, the retro aesthetics may be off-putting, and it would be most disappointing for someone to miss out because of this. It truly adds to the charm and allows the game to surprise you time and time again with its complexity and ingenuity. There is so little that I would change about this game that it isn’t worth the mention, and for that, I applaud the developers. I only hope that the game gets the support it deserves, as there is still a place in the Nintendo eStore for games like these – even after all of these years.
Buy Save Me Mr. Tako
Follow Nicalis, Inc.
Check out the man behind the game, Chris Deneos