Tak and the Power of Juju

Tak and the Power of Juju

Written by Ben Zackheim on 12/10/2003 for PS2  

Developed by Nick Games and Helixe, Tak and the Power of Juju is a side scroller with good production value that ends up being lost in the repetitive trap of so many current side scrollers. Similar to the Ecks vs. Sever license, the world of Tak is starting out as a game but there are plans for a Nick cartoon. Like the Rayman series before it, Tak takes full advantage of the graphics capabilities of the Gameboy Advanced hardware. Beautiful palettes and fluid animations cover the screen . The lush backgrounds that make Rayman such a joy are similarly rich in Tak. If only the same focus went into making the game play like Rayman 3.

The controls of the game are simple enough with the A and B buttons being jump and attack and the thumbpad moving the little guy around the screen. You move Tak around 8 worlds (and over 35 levels) in search of stolen magical moonstones and fellow villagers who have been turned into sheep by the evil Tlaloc -- a miffed shaman who is out for revenge against the village that rejected him.

Pretty, and pretty boring…

Armed with your blow gun, the ability to mind-meld with animals and a chicken suit that shoots exploding eggs (a dream of mine to be frank) everything would seem to be there for a fun romp. The gameplay itself can’t really be faulted for anything in particular. It’s the overall package I have a problem with. It feels messy and slapped together. For instance, you need to save sheep throughout the game but you don’t need to save all of them. In fact, you can get through the levels without saving a single one! Kind of makes you wonder why you should save any of them at all. Another example is swinging from vine to vine. This is a common move in games like this but I’ve never seen it done so poorly. It’s just tough to do and that can be frustrating when you’re in the middle of a puzzle.

There are a number of weapons and power-ups that allow you to do genuinely fun things like the pole vault and the palm tree catapult. But the fun simply doesn’t materialize in the game as a whole. Perhaps it’s the old routine of getting from one side of a level to another through jumping puzzles, power-ups and miscellaneous baddies; but after around 30 minutes of play I had to force myself to go on. The levels can be quite large, which once again, should be a plus but doesn’t pay off in this case. They’re filled with bushes that attack you but it’s really hard to tell which ones are part of the scenery and which ones are threats. The weapons might sound cool but are missing that cool-factor and aren’t well-balanced. The blow-gun is more like a pea shooter and the club doesn’t have the feeling of real impact when you use it (maybe because the license is for kiddies?) But worst of all, you can go through a lot of the game by only using a couple of weapons -- so the variety of weapons might be there but the level design to use all of them is missing.
As with so many licensed games, the foundation for an entertaining time is there but the payoff never comes. Tak for the GBA ends up feeling like a creature with no control over its own destiny. Perhaps it’s the imminent release of the TV show or the release of the big console versions but it feels like the bad corporate world got its filthy hands in here somewhere. Tak could have been polished a little more to make it fun, but my sense is that some numbers cruncher pulled the plug.

In the end if you love side scrollers with nifty characters you might want to pick it up. But if you want to add a quality scroller to your GBA library, then I’d go with either of the Rayman games instead.
Tak and the Power of Juju may just take the gold for game titles this year, but the game itself falls short of delivering fun to your thumbtips.

Rating: 6.9 Mediocre

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.


About Author

Ben Zackheim was born Ben Zackheim sometime before 1980 and after 1960 which characterizes him not at all. He's a writer of reviews, comics and screenplays, but aren't we all? Luxuries like food and shoes mean nothing to him. He's married to the most beautiful woman in the world, Robin, who reads all his reviews before he sends them in and says "Are you really going to write that for the public to read?" But I assure her no one reads my reviews anyway, only Charlie's, so it's kind of like a tree in the forest (without the cute little fuzzy things who smell their own poop - wait, then again there is Charlie...) She's a cross between Gillian Anderson and Hillary Clinton, which is a monster I'd love to play in Monster Rancher Advance 2. Photos are available upon request for a small fee. I'm currently writing this bio but have no plans beyond that. View Profile

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