When I saw Save Me Mr Tako for the first time, I thought that it was going to be a strange game. It seemed like a game ripped right out of the the original Gameboy Era. I couldn’t process what would compell a developer to go back to this style of game. So as one does when they are curious, I bought Save Me Mr Tako. Then, what started as curiosity, blossomed into satisfaction.
Just A Small Town Octopus Living In A Messed Up World
Mr Tako is a kind-hearted octopus who wants to see a world with no war. One day in the middle of the octopus army readying itself for battle, he saves a woman. A fairy comes across Mr Tako, seeing this woman, and gives him the ability of breath on land.
With his new found abilities, Mr Tako goes on to meet exiled royalty, and to try and stop the war between humans and octopuses. The story is cute, and compelling, with some actual depth to it. It doesn’t diverge too much from the warring kingdoms trope you see in a lot of games (except for having octopuses).
Nevertheless, I found the story to be relatively engaging, and would say it was definitely a positive. Not many platformers try and go for a rich storyline nowadays, so it’s nice to see.
It’s Inking Time
Save Me Mr Tako plays exactly like a platformer game from the Gameboy. From the start, you get the choice of two difficulty options. Normal mode let’s you play trough the game with a maximum of 5 lives, while easy mode starts you out with 20. It’s nice that you have both options, because Save Me Mr Tako is not an easy game. Many platforming newcomers or casual players will be happy to have to have an easy mode available, for sure.
You access different levels through a hub. Each series of levels has their own different setting. Sometimes it’s a forest, others a castle, or even a graveyard. Sometimes these are also explorable, with different characters to talk to. It’s a great design choice, and makes the transition between levels work perfectly.
Gameplay is traditional platform jumping, while collecting power-ups in the form of hats. There are over 50 different hats you can acquire, each one with different special abilities. There’s an archer one, one that gives you a whip, and one that let’s you run faster. You can only have one hat equipped at a time. However, you are able to hold onto an extra one, just in case you lose the one you’re wearing.
The large variety of hats is great, and adds a lot of diversity to the way you can handle different situations. Once you have gotten a hat, you will be able to choose which one to use, every time you reach a checkpoint.
Squid Vs World
Besides platforming, there are also tons of enemies you will have to watch out for. Enemies are very diverse, and come in many different forms. Sometimes they will be birds, ghosts, or even humans.
You don’t actually kill any of the enemies (because Mr Tako ain’t about the killer life). Instead, you shoot ink at them which immobilizes them. When they are in this state they can be jumped on, and used as a platform. Be careful though, because eventually they will become free from the ink.
One of my biggest gripes with Save Me Mr Tako, was the enemy placement. The game tries to make itself feel just as difficult as the original Gameboy platformers. By doing this, they also made it kind of unfair.
The way that enemies are placed sometimes, is just wonky. As you progress, the screen follows you in most of the levels. So if you stay right at the end of the screen, all of a sudden an enemy might pop out.
I found this tactic was used a lot, to try and get enemies to rush you down. It definitely did a good job at making me always feel on edge, but I found it took away from the gameplay. Games should be difficult because they take skill, not because enemies are placed in a way that’s unfair to the player.
Squid Vs World Pt2
On top of the enemy placement, if you don’t have a hat on, you will die after one hit. If you’re wearing a hat, it disappears after one hit… and you’re back down to one life. This may evoke some nostalgic frustration for platforming veterans. For many though, this will be seen as an annoying, and unnecessary, design choice.
In each level there are usually 1 or 2 checkpoints to reach. Most levels are very short. Most only take a minute or two to complete, but they’re tricky. While the level may be finishable in a minute, the trickier ones will probably take you some time to beat.
Save Me Mr Tako offers fun gameplay, especially for those wanting to take a trip down memory lane. However, the placement of enemies is definitely a concern. The health system makes sense, but enemy placement can be flat out ridiculous.
Besides the abundance of hats, there are a few different extras in Save Me Mr Tako. There are some minigames you can play to earn special rewards. They have decent entertainment value, and keep track of your highest score.
What I thought was really cool about Save Me Mr Tako were the abundance of different filters. You can change the entire color pallet of the game with just the click of the Right or Left button. There are multiple color filters that you can use, to change up the experience. This was honestly a fantastic addition, that I thought really gave an example of what makes Save Me Mr Tako different from other 2D platformers.
A World of Land & Sea
Although the world is styled like a Gameboy game, it always felt aesthetically pleasing. I was amazed by just how much you can do with a game of this art design.
The environments were nice, and offered a fair amount of changing scenery. The hub levels you got to walk around in, always felt fleshed out, with NPC’s and buildings scattered around.
There are even a few longer levels, that are in different forms like dungeons, and ancient ruins. These longer levels, although sometimes frustrating, were well developed. They definitely did a good job at spicing things up after going through levels for so long.
Enemies have a very cute, retro design, much like Mr Tako himself. There is a good amount of enemy variety, and each one behaved in it’s own, unique way.
The soundtrack to Save Me Mr Tako is fantastic. It really syncs up well with the game, and just further adds to the nostalgia! Save Me Mr Tako is a game that truly boast some great character.
A Technical Inking
I didn’t experience any technical issues while playing Save Me Mr Tako. The game looked great in both handheld, and docked mode. Frame rate and resolution always stayed consistent, and there were never any noticeable dips.
Controls were pretty good for the most part, but it is one area that could have used just a little more work. I found them to be relatively precise, and never really had any problems trying to move in a certain direction.
The problem I had, were the times where you climb up the platform you’re also trying to jump on to. This mechanic was not very precise. It caused some jump deaths that I feel wouldn’t have happened, if this climbing ability was better implemented.
Technically Save Me Mr Tako runs great, although the climbing problem should be addressed. Mixing that, with the already unfair enemy placement, makes for some very frustrating gameplay at times.
Nostalgia is one word that can really describe your adventure through Save Me Mr Tako. However, it is not the only one, because Save Me Mr Tako does so much to differentiate itself from the games of yesteryear.
With an interesting story, great presentation, and tons of stuff to do, Save Me Mr Tako feels like the pinnacle of retro-style platformers. Unfortunately, this is not entirely the case.
Save me Mr Tako’s idea of ramping up the difficulty is very flawed. You start to feel like you aren’t getting better at the game, but just memorizing where the abundance of unfairly placed enemies are. Easy mode doesn’t do a great job at this, because it’s necessary to have for a bulk of potential players to even stand a chance of completing the game. Save Me Mr Tako’s idea of difficulty, is what keeps it from being the perfect 2D retro-style platformer.
If you’re looking for a hit of Nostalgia, and a great 2D platformer, Save Me Mr Tako will definitely be for you. Even if you’re a newcomer to the genre, the pros of the game definitely outway the cons. Be careful though, because if you are not patient, you may end up regretting your decision. if you are a patient gamer, you will find a lovely experience in this little gem.
8/10 Recommended 2D PlatformerDifficult but wonderful blast to the past
- Interesting Story
- Good Gameplay
- Fitting Environments
- Nice Hub Worlds to Explore
- Abundance of Hats to Collect
- Cool Filters to Brighten Up Your World
- Plenty of Content
- Soundtrack is Very Fitting
- The Nostalgia
- Unfair Enemy Placement Ruins Some of the Levels
- That Damn Climbing Mechanic
- Health System Needs Changes