Save me Mr. Tako! is a game of immense promise and flawed execution. For all its wonderful story ideas, killer music tracks, and Game Boy aesthetic, it’s marred by frustrating game design, bland levels, and an unfair difficulty spike. Is a platforming title worth a playthrough on the merit of its unique plot if it is not fun to play?
War, what is it good for?
Let me give credit where it is due: Save me Mr. Tako! has a gripping narrative that critiques violence and cruelty. Tako is an octopus stuck in a war between humans and his kind. Bako, Tako’s brother, is all about fighting for dominance: He uses humans against each other in order to achieve his goal of becoming ruler of land and sea. Tako, however, does not believe in the conflict and wants all people and squids to peacefully coexist. This dissension is central to Tako’s character and informs his decisions as he journeys from sea to land in the quest for tranquility.
Save me Mr. Tako! looks and sounds like a handheld Nintendo game from the early ’90s. The title’s default color scheme is the same as the Game Boy’s putrid beige, but with a click of the L or R buttons, you can choose between a variety of different shades until you find one pleasing to your eyes. Character sprites are simplistic but emotive. The music is also top-notch, with the game’s main theme slightly changing as you enter each new world’s hub.
Gameplay-wise, Save me Mr. Tako! is a mixed bag. On the positive side, worlds each have their own unique hub. Each level is clearly marked with either a star or a checkmark when you beat them; the check means there are items or quests left to unlock. Tako has access to hats he uncovers throughout his adventure. There are 50 in total, and their abilities range from giving you the power to blow up walls to bringing comfort to a woman who realizes her husband will never come home. These hats also give you an extra hit before dying; usually, Tako will crumble with one blow.
Unfortunately, there are aspects of Save me Mr. Tako!‘s design that make it a chore to play. For example, Tako’s default attack is inking his foes in place for a short period of time. This isn’t a bad design choice; however, enemies reappear if you scroll back and forth, and there were many instances where arrows hit Tako from off-screen or a spider fell on him from above that I couldn’t see. Tako also has a high jump and can shimmy his way up the side of a platform, but it is finicky and only works when he is at the apex of his leap. Suffice to say, miscalculated jumps and death by pit were a staple of my playthrough.
Levels look very similar in the hub area they are in, robbing them of individuality. Additionally, there is a lack of enemy variety. Lastly, there is a big spike in difficulty when you hit the third world. Enemy placement and volume change drastically, which harm the title’s flow.
If you can look past Mr. Tako‘s frustrations, you’ll find a heartwarming story with various intricacies that call attention to the cruelty of the world. If you cannot, you will find that the game’s visuals, sound, and a tale of love and peace conquering hatred and war aren’t enough to save it from its myriad gameplay issues.
The publisher provided a code for this review. Our review policy.