Originally released in 2018 under Nicalis’ publishing efforts, Save me Mr Tako: Definitive Edition returns this title to storefronts following a dispute with the publisher. The dispute in question had Nicalis disallowing a patch to be made due to a lack of sales, but after some time, creator Christophe Galati has regained the rights to his game.
Now resurrected under Limited Run Games’ publishing label, this modern Game-Boy-inspired platformer enters the fray looking to correct the criticisms from three years ago while also looking to stand on its own merits rather than being attached to a less-than-ideal news story.
In a war between man and octopus, Save me Mr Tako: Definitive Edition has protagonist Tako facing down with his brother Bako in order to save the humans from capture. Through the stages, you’ll do everything you can to foil Bako’s plans for dominance while keeping as many humans from harm as possible.
While the story is a little bare-bones and the quest structure can feel scattered, there is enough to give a reason to your actions, even though story-centric gamers will more than likely walk away disappointed.
Emulating a platformer from the early 90s means you’re going to focus on simplicity and just enough rigidness in controls to keep things tough and a little frustrating. Gameplay consists of basic platforming along with a squid-ink attack that freezes enemies in place. This is used to allow Tako to jump on top of these inked-up baddies to reach higher platforms, while also allowing them to be pushed about the stage, whether that is to set up a jump or simply toss them off a cliff.
Besides the inclusion of a sword attack later in the game and hats that allow for different abilities like a long-distance arrow attack or short-ranged tentacle whip, you’re mostly stuck in a cycle that doesn’t vary enough to be all that exciting. While the gameplay is solid, the game’s length and lack of variety keep the experience one that doesn’t feel as fulfilling, regardless of the nostalgia on offer.
Aesthetically, Save me Mr Tako: Definitive Edition kills it on all fronts. From the midi-esque soundtrack and chiptunes playing throughout to the simple-coloured areas you travel and the perfect pixel graphics pulsing across the screen, you’ll honestly feel like you have a Game Boy in your hand rather than a Nintendo Switch. While this trip down memory lane is stupendously well done, it feels a little too on point when it comes to gameplay, which could be a positive for some and negative for many modern players.
In terms of how this version differs from the original release, one of the main differences is the inclusion of a life bar, which helps keep track of your limited number of lives available for each run. Hats allow for added hits and extra lives can be earned, but the difficulty in Save me Mr Tako: Definitive Edition really amps up and feels just like some of the most frustrating platformers from our childhoods.
Luckily, this difficulty can be changed to allow for an easier time, as well as the addition of a hat-directing character who gives hints about the whereabouts of new hats to obtain. Otherwise, same octo-gameplay, same Game Boy filters.
Save me Mr Tako: Definitive Edition brings its A-game in terms of offering a nostalgic voyage down memory lane, from its visuals and soundtrack to its gameplay style and old-school difficulty. Unfortunately, too much of what was offered at the peak of the Game Boy was too hard and handled too roughly to match up with what is expected in the modern era of gaming, which makes a lot of what is on offer dreadfully out of touch and tough to get through.
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