Save Me Mr Tako!
In a world where humans and octopi are at war, Mr Tako is a persistently helpful little octopus who rescues a woman from drowning one stormy night. A fairy sees this act of bravery and grants him the ability to survive on land, where he can turn enemies into platforms by spitting ink at them. As he travels across the surface world, Mr Tako defies his family and his people to try to resolve conflicts between humans and octopi.
Single-Player, Action and platforming retro gameplay
October 30, 2018
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Rating: E for Everyone
Save Me Mr Tako! feels like a remake of a classic Gameboy title; one that I have never played before. It’s a modern game that pays homage to the games released back in the early 90’s on the original Gameboy in what feels like Kirby’s Dreamland mixed as a Metroidvania title. Mr. Tako has a charm to it which shines through in the overflowing abundance of Metroidvania indie titles that came out this year.
Violence: Near the beginning, you control one of the octopi raiding a human passenger transport boat. The squids use lance-like weapons, but no one is seen being killed. While playing through the adventure, you’ll be inking and finding a variety of powerups to take out enemies, but it’s not graphic or violent.
Positive Content: Even in a time of war between humans and octopi, Mr. Tako displays compassion by saving a young girl who was trapped in the passenger boat. Mr Tako tries to defy the odds and bring peace between humans and octopi. It’s a surprisingly deep tale of tolerance and loving everyone, even if they’re different from you.
In a world where octopi and humans rage war between land and sea, a young and brave octopus named Mr. Tako hopes to put an end to it all. One day, the army of octopi throw a woman overboard only to be saved by a passing Mr. Tako. Seeing his act of bravery, a fairy grants him the power to traverse both land and sea. With his new power and an assortment of different hats that grant him even more abilities along the way, Mr. Tako seeks to end the war once and for all.
The story is straightforward, but one that’s fleshed out with an assortment of different NPC’s you’ll meet along the way. It surprised me with how much development there was with some of the characters you come across. I was easily fooled by the simple retro design of the visuals and the depth of the character’s performances were surprising. It was a pleasant surprise though, and I appreciated some of the subtleties in the narrative.
Save Me Mr Tako! is a Metroidvania title that takes elements from a handful of different Gameboy games to create something unique. It’s a remix of sorts with its own original story. Mr. Tako may look simple, but it’s not your strict level-to-level linear setup. In total, there are six worlds to explore that are filled with main levels, hub areas, side quests, and more. It’s all structured very similarly to Kirby titles you’d find on the NES or SNES.
Doors open up on a world map that lead you into either levels or hub areas. Mr. Tako himself is a very simple character and his abilities are limited to moving, jumping, and shooting ink. However, throughout his adventure his abilities are expanded with different hats he can find and wear. There’s a total of 50 unlockable hats for you to find and each one gives you a new power to use. They help add some diversity to the gameplay and even add some Metroidvania elements for backtracking to previous levels.
Your main weapon has you shooting enemies with ink to stun them and then can be used as platforms. Save Me Mr Tako! is simple to play in this regard. However, the physics are somewhat of a gripe for me. Mr. Tako feels overly floaty, with a sense of precision to him. There are moments where I made leaps of faith that feel like they should not have worked, but somehow, I still managed to make the jump. I found that the consistency between jumps was not always optimal and ended up being frustrating at times.
While Mr. Tako himself doesn’t have these grand sets of moves, the world around him is constantly changing. Levels start off simple, but their dungeon-like design quickly evolves with every few levels. For example, flowers that can be used to launch you to higher levels may be used in later levels to shoot enemies at other enemies. That change in design made it exciting to see what the next new gameplay element would be.
Aside from the traditional levels, you’ll come across boss battles and mini games that add some new gameplay elements to the traditional structure of the gameplay. Bosses became progressively more difficult over time and much like the levels mentioned previously, they rely on the changing environment to keep the fights feeling new rather than giving Mr. Tako new forms of attacks. The mini games on the other hand were fun little distractions in between levels. One in particular tasked you with making rice bowls for the citizens and another had you making cooked octopus, which was ironic but made me laugh.
Every time I played Save Me Mr Tako!, I couldn’t help but smile. The visuals always had this charm to them that reminded me of playing my original Gameboy back in the day. The assortment of different customizable options for the graphics were fun to mess with and it nailed the feeling of playing a long-lost classic Gameboy title. From the options menu you can change the aspect ratio of the gameplay to either play in 16×9 or the traditional 4×3 aspect ratio with a frame around it. Furthermore, you can change the color tones of the screen as if you inserted an original Gameboy game into a Gameboy color. Being able to change the color on the fly while playing was a nice touch that often had me flipping through the many different color palettes.
The audio design and soundtrack in Save Me Mr Tako! can easily be described as authentic. It feels like a product from the era it’s aiming to recreate. Sound effects were simple and mimicked the sound of platformers from the early 90’s. It didn’t stand out as something particularly special, but it was able to at least sell me on the feeling that I was playing a Gameboy title once again. The music on the other hand was more memorable and perfectly encapsulates the nostalgia it’s striving for.
Overall, Save Me Mr Tako! takes you on a charming trip down memory lane, combining elements from other adventure Gameboy titles you would have played if you owned the handheld. Its cute and classic art style, along with the authentic audio design reinvigorated the feelings I felt when I first got my hands on other retro games like Shovel Knight. Save Me Mr Tako! felt new and familiar at the same time and is worth playing for those who want a blast from the past.
+ Lovingly crafted nostalgia trip
+ Fun and simple gameplay
+ Heartfelt story and clever narrative structure
- Platforming never felt truly right
- New players might not appreciate the retro aesthetic