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Tak: The Great Juju Challenge Review

Developer: Way Forward Publisher: THQ
Release Date: September 19, 2005 Also On: DS, GCN, PS2 and Xbox

The Tak franchise stands among the few created by THQ this generation. Usually given to licensed games only, THQ actually created this franchise with Nickelodeon, and it is now entering its third installment on the GBA. Sadly, although the DS and console versions of this game are pretty good for platformers, the combination of a fatal flaw and an all-around mediocrity make this game not particularly worth anybody’s time.

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I’ll get to what’s wrong eventually, but I’m going to begin with the graphics, as is my custom. Sadly, whereas the console and DS versions of the game look pretty good, the DS version in particular, the graphics in this game look pretty much thrown together. They are not atrociously bad, but compared even to the two-year-old Super Mario Advance 4, they look quite dated. So, let’s just say they could have been done a lot better in almost all respects and leave it at that.

The sound is basically the same story. The music is okay, but forgettable, and the sound effects don’t sound particularly appropriate in all areas either, although some of them sound okay. Overall, the sound doesn’t detract from this game particularly badly, but nothing is added by it either.

So far as the gameplay goes, let me begin by saying that the plot in this game is exactly the same as it was in the DS and console versions. However, in this version, each opposing team has its own challenge that you must progress through which contains a few generic platformer levels, a platformer-style boss, and ending with a top-down race. I will cover each of these three aspects individually.

First of all, the levels are acceptable once you get used to them. I’ll admit that I question the necessity of all the double taps that the game requires for the character-specific moves, but usually you’ll have enough room to spare to pull them off where you need to. The levels are not particularly difficult, but they do have sections that make the game not just a run-through affair either, so the balance of difficulty in these levels is pretty good. Depending on whether you use Tak or Lok, your attack will either be a hammer chop or a thrown fireball, so you can choose your attack style of choice in many areas.

So far as the bosses are concerned, they are typical platformer-style bosses. That means that there is an attack sequence, followed by a period of time during which the boss is vulnerable. It might take a little while to figure out what you’re supposed to do with some of them, but they are not too badly balanced in difficulty either.

And now we get to the fatal flaw of the game, the top-down racing levels. Don’t get me wrong; I respect racing games. However, the control mechanic of these levels is one that I haven’t seen since Sprintmaster for the Atari 2600. Essentially, you have to hit the control pad left or right to turn the car in that direction. This, of course, means that if you are traveling down, you need to hit left to turn the car so it’s going to the right, etc. Why use such a difficult mechanic, especially for a game that’s aimed at kids? There are plenty of better racing mechanics that could have been used. Many people will be tempted, as I was, to give up as soon as they reach the first of these. Making matters worse is the fact that the course intersects itself and you have to follow arrows to go in the right direction, making it easy to end up going the wrong direction. What were these guys thinking?

What then are we left with? The platforming of the game is typical and does little if anything creative with bland music and bad graphics. Combine this with the insane difficulty of the races, and you have a game that even young kids won’t like much. If you’re a fan of top-down racing games and want something difficult, maybe you could try this game for that, but, in that case, there wouldn’t be enough tracks to make it worth your time, and if you are a fan of platformers, the races will test your patience to no end. I recommend not bothering with this game. If you want a portable version of Tak, go with the much better DS version. I should note that this game is a 2D platformer, not 3D like the DS and console versions, and is thus obviously a completely distinct game from the other two versions. However, that alone is not really enough to save this game by any means.

Graphics: 4
Sound: 5
Gameplay: 5
Creativity: 2
Replay Value/Game Length: 4
Final: 4
Written by Martin Review Guide