Title: Save me Mr Tako: Tasukete Tako-San
Developer: Christophe Galati
Release Date: October 30, 2018
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: Nicalis, Inc.
Genre: Retro Platformer
Retro is in now, but often I feel like most games holding onto the retro badge try to be so much like the games from our childhood that they forget to expand on the genre. This is the problem that I usually run into when playing a modern “retro” game and even though it might be well developed and good, I fail to see any unique features from the developer who just borrows from classic games.
At first glance, Save me Mr Tako: Tasukete Tako-San could have been just that, a retro rehash of systems we’ve played time and time again. However, I’m proud to report that even though this game has the look of playing a Game Boy game on your Super Game Boy, it brings enough unique mechanics to keep things feeling new and at same time retro.
Save me Mr Tako: Tasukete Tako-San begins with a battle, players assume the role of Tako, an octopus forced to fight against humans at the request of his high military ranked brother. In the event that a woman is drowning, Tako leaps in the ocean to take her to safety. This isn’t looked at kindly by the other octopus citizens, who are fighting against the human race in order to take the land from them.
Save me Mr Tako: Tasukete Tako-San has some pretty deep moments during its story. The game surprised me with a few key characters who travel with Tako during moments in the game and each has a rather interesting backstory, definitely something that I wasn’t expecting. However, the game is not bogged down with these story scenes, instead developer Christophe Galati created short bits of only the key moments that players need to understand and then puts you right back into the platforming action. This almost seems impossible to do in a retro game, but by the middle of the story, I found that I was fully invested in the history of octopus vs humans and the cast of characters.
Furthermore, players will encounter towns throughout their adventure that have tons of NPCs who each tell a bit about their life. If you’re trying to get everything in the game, it’s almost crucial that you talk to everyone in town in order to trigger side quests and optional story scenes. These usually end up giving you upgradable gear, which we will touch on in a bit.
Gameplay features your basic platforming elements: Jumping, Gem Collecting, and Enemies. Do this over and over and you’ll get to the end of the stage. However, Save me Mr Tako: Tasukete Tako-San has some interesting mechanics that keep things feeling fresh and were a big reason why I couldn’t stop playing this game. First off, Tako’s basic attack shoots inc at enemies which holds them in place. Using this move is necessary to find secret areas and collect more precious gems or upgrades. Also, I’d like to mention that Tako’s jumps allow him to semi crawl on the edge of a platform in order to get up it, which I found to be extremely helpful.
Tako can be upgraded with hats, which change his attacks or add buffs such as speeding him up. Although I enjoyed the variety of hats that can be worn, I found that I used only about 3 of them throughout most of the game. However, there are so rather interesting hats like one that summons cats to attack or one the just grows flowers that enemies have to run into. Furthermore, having a hat on is like life insurance because poor Tako is a one-hit kill octopus so having a hat on adds an additional hit point.
The difficulty can ramp up rather quickly, but the game doesn’t really punish you for dying outside of starting you at the beginning of the level and taking all of your gems. I should add that the levels after about 25 require some serious skills and maneuvering, but by that time you are well equipped enough to handle any danger lurking, even if it takes you 50 lives to get through one level. Speaking of levels, the level design is perfect for the Nintendo Switch, they are short and sweet, which makes it perfect for on the go play with the Switch in handheld mode.
Graphically, Save me Mr Tako: Tasukete Tako-San is trying to do much, but you can change the background color whenever you want. Some colors are better than others depending on the situation but similar to the weapons I usually just cycled through 3 of the colors. On the other hand, the music in the game is awesome. I enjoyed each track and was impressed with how simple and cute they made each stage. Because in the end, you’re saving the world as an octopus, what the hell is cuter than that? I’d also like to point out that there seem to be some subtle callbacks to other retro games such as Super Mario 2 and Metroid among others that I saw, but they aren’t totally in your face, which makes them fun to see.
In the end, Save me Mr Tako: Tasukete Tako-San is by far one of the best retro platformers that I have played in recent days and what makes it better is that it’s an original IP. Taking chances like that with this genre takes a lot of guts and I think Christophe Galati did a wonderful job creating this game. It has a few flaws such as enemies spawning right next to you after you die, enemy fire being way too frequent, and some lack of direction with a few of the side quests, but none of that ever stopped me from having fun.
I actually didn’t want this game to end because the nostalgia that it provided was just too pure to let go of. Similarly, the game just gets so darn good once you get to the other worlds and also during the moments when playing as other characters. Thankfully, there is plenty to return to after getting some special hats that can clear the way to other paths in previous stages. I enjoyed every moment of Save me Mr Tako: Tasukete Tako-San and that surprised me. I can’t wait to see if I will ever meet Tako again and get to go on his next adventures because I am completely hooked on this silly looking squid.
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