Within the opening scene, Tako manages to get you on his side by saving a drowning woman, much to his brethren’s disapproval. In a war between humans and octopuses, Mr. Tako is out to settle matters in the nicest possible way. Helping people to see the error of their ways by promoting acceptance and peaceful co-existence. Isn’t that lovely?
A hub-world connects individual levels and towns with levels consisting of block-based platforming with big jumps, side quests and light puzzling. The mix is handled at a steady pace and difficultly is ever-so gradually heightened as you make progress. It’s a short game but level design is varied and the jump physics are satisfying. Floaty jumps can be a negative when looking for a tight platformer, but there are times when a good floaty jump feels right. Tako-san has this down.
Tako’s charm is felt in that he never actually takes his average adversary out, he merely inks them and moves on. Inking an enemy freezes them for a short period, allowing you to use them as springboard to your next pathway or collectable. This method of hopping around is incorporated into a lot of the level design and rarely frustrates in execution. Ink has a meter and cool-down for use, in the form of regeneration. Given the rate of regeneration it almost feels redundant as it’s not often you feel short or a specific need to meter-manage. The rapid-shot long range of Tako’s initial method of fire gives your otherwise vulnerable body an effective and passive means of keeping danger away.
The silent protagonist approach works fine with the NPCs offering all the comic relief and character to carry you through the plentiful dialogue. On entering a town early in the game a human ran towards me and greeted me by accusing me of being a child abductor before running back… then swiftly returns to shake his fist at you. And what does our lovable hero do? Saves the kid, naturally. While the game is ostensibly a 90s-era Game Boy style platformer, the aforementioned dialogue plays a big part from visiting towns, conversing with the NPCs, taking on side quests and moving the story along. It all makes Save Me Mr. Tako act like an RPG. It’s not all exchanging pleasantries with the townsfolk though. No, there are unlockable abilities which come in the form of hats.
Hats, hats, lots of hats. As my friends and family know, I do love a good hat. Tako’s the same and there is an abundance for him to unlock. Hats provide new powers such as a bouncy ball attack or an arrow shot but additionally they provide a shield of sorts for blocking a single attack. While Tako-san has a satisfyingly huge jump, he’s squidgy and vulnerable so a single blow will send him packing. Taking an attack while equipped with a hat will remove the hat but allow you to continue your journey. Checkpoints can offer an opportunity to pick a hat from your ever-expanding repertoire and the same can be managed between levels. The hat powers not only offer an alternative style of attack but a means of solving the game’s puzzles, for example, you may need a specific type of projectile for the right trajectory to hit a switch. It’s simple stuff on paper, but the flow of the game makes you feel involved enough to be interesting.
This is a Game Boy game through and through. From the pale green hue to the two-button controls (alright, three but you hardly use one of those) and faithful graphical style, the look sent me right back to the 90s, to a time of lugging around the legendary grey brick. Nicalis added some classy and thematically appropriate options, such as a choice of a borderless fullscreen or bordered screen with picture options, giving a Super Game Boy feel. Multiple screen size options are also included, and a nice grid filter completes the Game Boy look. There’s also the ability to switch colour-palette on the fly. Think Downwell. It’s fun to switch it up in case you’re not as caught-up in the nostalgia as I am.
The music is filled with wonderful era-appropriate catchy themes, but cleanly mixed and man, it hit me right in the feels. This is one soundtrack I really need in my playlist. I say this honestly and unreservedly. We’re almost talking early Pokémon quality music here.
Those Suckers left a Mark on Me
There’s a lot of content to tackle here. While individual levels and dungeons are short, they’re packed with side quest content, collectables and charm. There’s a consistency to the level design that keeps the challenge palatable, while drip-feeding enough light puzzling fun and hat powers to retain the flow throughout.
Overall Score: 3.8/5
Save me Mr. Tako! Make me crave a session on a big ol’ grey Game Boy but also left me thinking what the game could evolve into if it jumped into the next generation. Perhaps a roadmap for future sequels? I certainly hope so, because Mr. Tako saved me from boredom every time I flicked the switch.
Formats: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PC
Price: £11.50 (Nintendo eShop)
Developer: Christophe Galati/Nicalis
Release Date: 30/10/18 (Nintendo eShop)
Review copy provided by publisher