Posts Tagged ‘tak’

System: GameCube (also available on: Nintendo DS, Game Boy Advance, Playstation 2, Xbox)

Release Date: September 19th, 2005

Rarity: 10%

Price/Location: $4.99/Gaming Warehouse (Grandville)

The Tak series of games was always one that intrigued me. I like platforming games. I grew up on Mario, Sonic, and Crash Bandicoot. I really enjoyed the couple of Ratchet and Clank games I played in my early adult years. So I would say I have a favorable opinion of the genre. The problem with the platforming genre is that some games fail to innovate. A lot of games merely copy the formula of another, more successful, game and while it may be able to function properly where it needs to, you sometimes get the feeling that if you’ve played one, you’ve played them all.

How can you screw up giving Sonic the Hedgehog a freakin’ sword?! Sonic Team found a way. Innovation!

This is always the fear I had when looking at a game like Tak. Especially since it was a licensed Nickelodeon property. Interestingly enough, the Tak property was licensed by Nickelodeon for the 1st game in 2003 (Great Juju Challenge is the 3rd game), but the series did not debut as a cartoon on Nickelodeon until 2007. This is a good sign since Tak was imagined as a video game first and not a cartoon-based game. Most times, games based on licensed properties fall somewhere between “not that good” and “Superman 64-esque.”

Pictured: Gross misuse of a licensed property.

With this in mind, I jumped into Tak: The Great Juju Challenge with… not really high hopes, but rather hopes that it won’t completely suck. As with any game I check out for the first time, I jump into the Options menu first. The only change I make is turning subtitles on, as per usual. The story starts off with the chief of Tak’s tribe, the Pupanunus (Get it?! It sounds like poop! Ha!), explaining that the Juju Challenge only happens once every 60 years, and is a competition among the 4 tribes including the Grammazons (beautiful Amazonian-type women who sound and act like grannies), the JibbaJabbas (who speak via beat-boxing), and the Black Mist (token evil guys). The winning tribe will gain the favor of the Moon Juju (a kid-friendly way of saying Moon God?) for the next 60 years. This competition must be serious business. Which is why you have to call into question why the Pupanunus would choose Tak and Lok to represent them. See, Tak is but a mere child, and Lok… Lok is a man-child. We’re introduced to Tak and Lok via a scene immediately after the chief’s introduction and Lok is goofing off while Tak is trying to keep focus. It would be an average scene if it weren’t for the fact that Lok is voiced by Patrick Warburton, most famous for being the voice of Joe Swanson on Family Guy.

Patrick Warburton as The Tick? NAY! It’s a tick dressed as Patrick Warburton. He’s that awesome.

As the opening level unfolds, I quickly get a feeling for the controls. A: Jump, B: Attack, Z to switch between Tak and Lok. The Y button throws some kind of projectile attack, but I never found a good use for it during my playthrough. The game at this point is not bad. The controls are good, the challenge is certainly there, and the music, while fitting for the setting, has an issue I haven’t heard since the original Playstation. Instead of the music continuously playing throughout the level, the music track will end, stay silent for a second or two, then start over. It’s not a big gripe, but it did detract from the atmosphere the game is trying to create. After plucking the feather from a certain bird, Tak and Lok are granted acceptance into the Juju Challenge.

Not a ticket to the Olympics.

After a less-detailed-than-desired explanation of the Juju Challenge, we jump into the first level. The competition appears to be point-based. A timer in each level ticks down, giving you more points the quicker you finish. Although you don’t lose if it counts down to zero, you lose out on your main source of points. Checkpoints add time to your timer, unless you hit zero. If your timer hits zero, time can no longer be added on, but you can still finish the level. There are also opportunities to collect points based on item pickups and defeating enemies. I get the feeling this was the developers attempt at innovation, but I can’t help but feel the competition aspect was tacked-on, rather than being fully-integrated into the gameplay. If the competition storyline were removed from the game, the core gameplay and level design would likely not change. It plays just like any other platformer and the competition does nothing to distinguish it from other games. However, that’s not to say I’m not enjoying other aspects of it. Patrick Warburton is fantastic in this and the cut-scenes are genuinely funny. The gameplay itself functions as it needs to… until we get to the first head-to-head-to-head-to-head competition, some kind of demolition derby.

Me vs. my optimism for this game.

This event was terrible! The controls are bad, there is no explanation of what to do or how to win, and points only seemed to be awarded on an arbitrary basis. After this event mercifully ends and I eek out a 3rd place finish, the following cut-scene, while funny because Lok finds out the truth about the Grammazons after an attempt to hit on them, completely renders everything that has happened up to this point invalid. The Black Mist were supposed to be eliminated but a “scoring error” allows them to stay in the competition. Fine, I get that it’s supposed to be because the Black Mist used underhanded tactics and cheated to be allowed to stay, but what’s the point of earning points and scoring, if the outcome seems to be predetermined through the use of storylines? Why am I going through these levels and scoring as many points as I can if the cut-scene after the first 3 levels and mini-game shows that I could have been blowing through these levels without scoring points, since it was programmed by the developers that Black Mist would have been in 4th place, regardless of my performance? No matter how lackadaisical I was in completing these levels, the worst I would have finished was 3rd place.

Yay.

Verdict: BARGAIN BIN

I really, really wanted to like this game. Patrick Warburton was basically my only reason for getting through these levels. Otherwise the gameplay was merely average and did nothing really new or innovative to distinguish it from the rest of the platforming pack. The fact that the points you accumulate for the competition are meaningless really left a bad taste in my mouth and ruined whatever goodwill the game was building with me. This game is not terrible, but there are some questionable programming and story choices that affect the gameplay and my enjoyment in a major way.

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