Save me Mr Tako! is a labour of nostalgic GameBoy-esque love produced over 4 years by one man, Chris Galati. In it, you play as the titular Octopus Mr Tako – the cutest darn Octopus you have ever seen! Set in a world where Octopi are at war with humans, he saves a woman from drowning on a stormy night. A fairy spots his good deed and grants him with the ability to breath on land. What comes next is a riveting adventure where one little Octopus is determined to do the right thing and see the good in humanity at the cost of betraying his own family and race.
Save me Mr Tako! is a platformer from days gone by. The game is set across a number of linear levels which are laid out across 6 worlds in a similar fashion to Kirby. Your little Octopus is easy to control – the left stick moves you right and left and, B is to jump, whilst Y spits ink at your foes. In the spirit of a friendly little Octopus, you don’t kill enemies, instead, you stun them by spitting ink – temporarily freezing them.
The game uses this stun mechanic in an interesting way – you often need to stun enemies and use them as platforms to reach heights which adds a very fluid dynamic, you need to move quickly to stun a foe, jump on them, and then usually dodge other foes or stun them before the first one wakes up and kills you.
Controlling Tako is excellent, the controls are tight and the way that levels are laid out is superb – it combines fast moving runs with thought out puzzles and pesky enemies in a well-balanced way that results in a thrilling experience.
The game strikes a fine balance between the era that inspired it and modern gameplay elements, the physics for example lead to more fluid movement that will satisfy GameBoy fans without alienating newcomers.
Immediately, you are struck with a sense of cartridge nostalgia on loading up the game but this in itself doesn’t do it justice, this isn’t simply fanfare service to games gone by – it is a fully fledged experience in its own right, as you progress the difficulty ramps up in an even way and even when you get to the inevitable frustration you never feel as though something is not achievable. The attention to detail doesn’t end with the level layout, we are also treated to progression in the form of hats, Mr. Tako can find 50 unique equipable items that range from a bow and arrow, to bombs, double jump, and extra speed.
Some parts of the game cannot be completed without a certain hat and in the style of Castlevania you will notice areas that are unreachable at the time you find them, later on, finding a certain hat will let you revisit that level to uncover its secrets. When you equip a hat you only get to keep it on until you die – doing so strips you of it until you reach a checkpoint where you can pick a hat to equip – this tension was really well done and makes you appreciate the power of your chosen hat.
On your travels, you come across good folk and bad, magical creatures, and everyday citizens in the game’s cities and throughout its level and 18 dungeons. The game’s dialogue is impressive and as well as the classic queues and quests I found myself genuinely moved by some villagers’ plight and the lore that is discovered through chatting to NPCs.
At every point in which you think you have the game close to sussed, it throws a curveball at you, there are a load of different playable characters for certain levels with their own traits, including one which cannot attack enemies at all making it difficult to maneuver through their levels. Another curveball example is when you suddenly have side-scrolling levels which need you to crank up the pace.
Save me Mr Tako! is a magical adventure that is executed exceptionally well and is crafted in such a way as to maximise the fun, its 18 bosses are each really unique, and when you finally do complete the game and experience its shock ending you will be able to replay these battles in boss mode.
Whether you play this game on the move or on your TV you are in for a treat.
Marc-Antoine Archier composed the soundtrack and I have to say it’s seriously catchy! It features GameBoy era chiptune tracks that stick in the back of your mind. The music is up-tempo and takes you on a trip down memory lane. We have a track when you encounter the fairy and a track for dungeon crawling – each is fit for purpose and a joy to hear.
The sound effects are a simple affair, spitting ink sounds right and the odd grunt or hoot from enemies is not overt.
The audio is understated and effective, working marvelously well with the visuals to produce a certain feel that is just right for this game.
Visuals & Performance
Is it possible to make a game with visuals rendered entirely in MS Paint? If you had asked me this before Save me Mr Tako! I would have said no and yet Chris Galati has managed to accomplish this feat! I don’t know if he is just a sucker for punishment or what but the art style and detail are amazing when you take this fact into consideration.
The reason for this lunacy is authenticity, it’s a strive to make a game with a 4 colour pallet drawn pixel by pixel. As someone who grew up with a GameBoy and GameBoy colour, this strikes a cord with me. The characters motion is crafted well and the details for shading and light, in particular, are fantastic.
The game’s 6 worlds are varied and the addition of changeable colour monochromatic palettes at the touch of a single button at any point is excellent. The game oozes character and the visuals support this entirely.
You can play this game in 4:3, widescreen, or a host of options and it’s great to have so much choice. Whether on the move or in docked mode, I found it a treat to the eyes in a diamond in the rough kind of way.
From a performance perspective, I experienced no issues whatsoever, load times are nice and short, and there are no rendering problems or slowdown.
Save me Mr Tako! is not a short game. Its story grabs you and there are many delightfully hidden treasures waiting to be discovered, as well as 50 hats each with a unique skill or for a unique purpose. It is posted up at £11.50 in the UK and $14.99 in the US, this four year in the making game is certainly worth your hard earned cash – catch it in the current Nicalis 50% off sale and it’s a steal.
Steeped in nostalgia
Beautiful and sounds great
Some frustrating tough parts