Reviewed: February 9, 2004
Released: October 15, 2003
Being firmly rooted in Nintendoís camp I only had the chance to play the GameCube version of THQís, Tak and the Power of Juju, which may or may not have been a good thing when it came time to play and review the GBA version a few days later. While Tak was a shining example of platform gaming goodness on the GameCube its GBA cousin simply failed to deliver the same charm or level of gameplay of the more powerful system.
While the handheld version of Tak shares the same basic storyline as the console version there are no breathtaking cutscenes to deliver the narrative. Instead, you get to talk to many of the characters and read most of the plot. Nothing new for GBA gamers but again, just not as charming as the console version.
Basically, an evil witchdoctor has stolen some magical Moon Stones and turned everyone into sheep. The hero, who was prophesied to save the day, has also been turned into a fluffy sheep leaving the unlikely Tak with the task of saving the day, with your help of course.
Gameplay quickly devolves into a standard side-scrolling platform game with characters, backgrounds, and sprite-like animations that reminded me a whole lot of an 80ís game, Bonk, on the Turbo Grafx-16. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Bonk was a blast and so is Tak, but itís not going to win any awards for originality.
You basically move Tak through eight worlds with somewhat uniquely designed levels. You use your club or blowgun to stun or bash enemies and try to rescue your tribe who has been turned into sheep. Recovering the Moon Stones and defeating Tlaloc, the evil witchdoctor, also fits into your long-term career goals.
While I appreciate the fact that you have a choice of weapons the designers never really force or even encourage you to use one or the other. With the exception of a few encounters you are better off just using the club to bonk your way through the game.
Levels are rather creative despite their linear design. Youíll be doing plenty of jumping and there are some levels where you get to put on a fish or chicken suit and swim or fly around the level Ė you figure out which suit does what.
Tak isnít a difficult game and it almost becomes more of a pastime rather than a challenging game. Feathers, your source of health, are plentiful so when you take damage from an enemy or a sticker bush there is usually a feather lying around to repair the damage. There is also a lack of purpose to Tak. Sure you are trying to save your tribe and there is the obligatory sheep counter, but you are neither rewarded nor penalized for a perfect or less-than-perfect rescue score. The linear nature of the game design doesnít allow for backtracking or visiting previous levels so if you miss a sheep, too bad for that guy.
What Tak lacks in gameplay it more than makes up for in graphics. The levels feature that old-school parallex scrolling and are created from raw pixel data. The characters are also generated from pixels creating wonderfully animated sprites. The collision detection is visually solid which translates into precise gameplay.
Everything looks and blends together nicely. Sometimes things blend in a bit too well and some hazards like thorn bushes blend into the background foliage. Tak has a nice design scheme with a distinct cartoon theme. Characters and creatures are fun and creative and there is an inherent charm to the assorted cast of characters.
Tak has an ongoing tribal theme with an upbeat tempo that matches the gameís atmosphere and pacing. There are several tunes with each world having its own theme music. The sound effects are also perfectly matched to the action and just as fun as the visuals they enhance.
Whether you are 12 or 20 Tak isnít going to keep you occupied for too long. Most gamers can get through Tak in 4-6 hours whether you save all the sheep or not. Since there is no reward for doing so there is no reason other than personal satisfaction for finding and saving your entire tribe.
Even though Tak and the Power of Juju lacks sophistication and purpose itís still fun in a primitive (no pun intended) way. It has all the classic elements that make up a good old-fashioned platform title and certainly wonít disappoint anyone looking for such an experience.