Tuesday
Jul162019

QCF: Save Me Mr. Tako!

 bought my first Game Boy when I was eight years old…I guess labor laws weren't what they used to be, because I was on the payroll for a paper route with the Barrie Advance in the third grade. Anyway, I loved my Game Boy back then more than I like some of my family today, and the old black on the green screen will always invoke a certain nostalgia for days long past. 30 years is a long-ass time.

However, as it turns out, Nicalis' Save Me Mr. Tako! instantly brings me back to my childhood as no other game has in a long time. It has the look–It has–the sound–it has the gameplay, and best of all, it's on a portable system.—kind of.

The events in Save Me Mr. Tako! follow the story of a small octopus that feels as if the ongoing war between humans and cephalopods is probably not the best way to gain trust between the two factions. While his family fights, Mr. Tako decides he's not like them. A girl is knocked off of a ship and Mr. Tako brings her to safety, sparking the desire to go to the surface – using the power of magic–to befriend and help humans in need to strengthen human-cephalopod relations.

Save Me  Mr. Tako! Is a side-scrolling action-platformer that incorporates some light run-n-gun mechanics in its flow; Mr. Tako can fire ink from his shnoot (a snoot that shoots)which will immobilize enemies in a way that allows the player to use them as a platform to reach other areas. This ink isn’t infinite though; players will need to pay attention to the ink gauge in the top left-hand corner of the screen, and players will need to recharge this ink with specific pickups.

At first, everything proceeds in a simple clear-the-stage manner. Nevertheless, the player will eventually be tasked with saving humans that have been abducted. Getting to these people is ostensibley challenging, requiring the player to be very careful what platform they immobilize when rescuing the captives, untying them as they are reached. Care should definitely be taken to not to shoot these captives with ink. There will even be times when players take control of other human characters as well, which was definitely a nice twist. A number of stages also have puzzle platforming elements like portals, switch doors and obstacles that make complete stage progression fairly difficult.

There is also another aspect to Save Me Mr. Tako! That makes for an interesting twist: there are 50 hats hidden throughout the game that Mr. Tako can wear. Each hat grants a different effect. Some will allow Mr. Tako to fire arrows,. Some grant extra health to the player. Others will cause flowers to grow out of the ground. One is an umbrella that shields the player from falling objects. Given that most enemies and kill obstacles will take out the player in just one hit, these hats can be very useful in a variety of situations. Of course, players can also collect feathers that increase the player's life stock by one. These feathers can be found frequently throughout the game. Players will also find gens along the way. These gems will award the player with an extra life when 100 are collected.

The controls in Save Me Mr. Tako! Are simple enough to grasp and actually feel really good. Tako’s shots are quick and effective, jumping is satisfyingly high without feeling too floaty and the chibi-cephalopod can even crawl up onto a platform if he lands on its corner. The level design never really feels cheap and it lends itself to a quality that the best Game Boy platformers had back in the day, but better.

Visually, Save Me Mr. Tako! emulates the look of classic Game Boy games of years past with some decent but not overly complex sprites and moderately detailed but not overbearing backgrounds. Some of the animation – especially some human walk cycles –isn’t much to talk about, but they work on the whole. Meanwhile, the music is also consistent with how an original Game Boy game would sound. There's a lot of pitch bending and it sounds as if its composer was trying just a little too hard, but once again, it works well.

But what's really neat about the overall presentation of Save Me Mr. Tako! is the additional color palates available to the player. It can be changed by pressing either the L or R buttons and will cycle through the same motifs as would be found on the Game Boy Color... or a reasonable facsimile of them, anyway. There are a number of screen size options, wallpapers and even an LDC dot-matrix filter to make it look as if the game is being played on an old LCD Game Boy or Game Boy Color panel.

So in short, it's new, and also a time capsule—a classic feeling game that also plays like a modern one. However, more than all of that, Save Me Mr. Tako is quite a bit of fun and is a modern classic in its own right that’s well worth the digital space on your Switch—Pew pew.

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