Save Me Mr. Tako Definitive Edition

Technically, this could be a Second Chance with the Chick review. I reviewed Mr. Tako back in 2019, noting I didn’t care for the difficulty, the lives system, etc. In fairness, I didn’t have nostalgia for the Game Boy, which is as close to a prerequisite for enjoying Mr. Tako as it gets. As far as difficulty and other technical issues go, developer Christophe Galati was game, and in fact, he did patchwork on Steam. Unfortunately, his publisher on Switch, who I won’t even give the dignity of naming, just wouldn’t cooperate. Having gotten to know Chris, he got a raw deal. What really sucks is there’s no way of getting those adopters of Mr. Tako this port for free. I like Chris. A lot. He’s a good guy. I admire that he persevered through a nauseating situation to get his work out there at its maximum potential.

This dialog from Mr. Tako became absurdly meta.

Now, having said that, my #1 problem with Save Me Mr. Tako was always that I was never this game’s target audience to begin with. That’s totally out of Chris’ hands. I’m just not nostalgic for the Game Boy. I don’t see how anyone can be. Such nostalgic feelings would be no different than someone being nostalgic for.. I dunno.. rabbit ears on a television. Why would you long to go back to that today? It doesn’t seem convenient, and the picture quality was never as good, and sometimes you’d probably have to get up and adjust the damn things. Imagine someone wishing they could tune-in Netflix using rabbit ears. That’d be so dumb! Why would you want that, Dad? What is wrong with you?!

Sorry, that was awkward.

Well, how come that’s dumb, but reminiscing about the Game Boy, to the point you’d crave a new game that looks like a Game Boy game isn’t? The Game Boy looks the way it does because it was cheap, could run on batteries without sapping them, but was still a major step above the previous option for handheld gaming, which was either Game & Watch or typing swear words into a calculator. Unlike something like, say, the NES or Super NES, where you can do a lot with the limited color palette and sprite-sizes, the Game Boy is just always ugly. Even a game like this, which if it had come out in the 90s, would have been in the upper-echelon of Game Boy games, in both graphics and gameplay. Yea, Mr. Tako is an amazing achievement: a modern indie stylized like a retro game with almost no seams of modern stitching, and it’s even fun. But I’d rather it look like almost any other platform. I can’t get over it.

There’s tons of different four-color palettes you can use. Why not just do the Super Game Boy thing and have a customize option? On a side note, thank you for including photosensitive options. Always classy.

Which is not to say you can’t appreciate Mr. Tako as a game without the four-color thing getting in the way. Mr. Tako is still potentially one of THE all-time great indie mascots, but like Pikachu before him, he has to get his adorable ass out of Game Boy Land and into something more flattering for his personality. Then again, Save Me Mr. Tako goes to some wickedly dark places. The parents of Mr. Tako, the former King & Queen lived happily ever after. No wait, they fucked and died, like all Octopi do. None of that cutesy Disney crap. Octopus die after mating, and by god, that’s going in the game!

I get why they’re there and I know that other players like them more than me, but I sort of wish none of the human-based levels existed. I always winced when they came up. I didn’t like a single one, but again, that’s just me. I thought they were always boring.

Actually, “by God, that’s going in the game!” seems to have been the motto for developing Save Me Mr. Tako: Definitive Edition. There’s a jaw-dropping FIFTY power-ups. Fifty! In a weird way, I kind of admire that Chris didn’t say “I’ll save that one for the sequel!” at any point. But for a mascot platformer, it’s kind of overkill. You can reload your hat at any midway checkpoint, but realistically, you’ll only have one or two that you actually like to use. There’s also fifty stages, a few of which are inspired, but most of which are plain at best, if not outright tedious. Christophe suffers from Peter Jackson syndrome: he desperately needed an editor. Rework the fifty levels down to eight worlds of four stages each, with all the best bits from the stages deleted used to extend the good/average levels. When Mr. Tako is good, it’s a lot of fun. But it gets samey and sloggy, and for what? So a sales blurb can say fifty stages? If nobody is raving about the level design, it doesn’t matter. Give me thirty-two good levels to fifty mostly dull ones any day.

I decided a few weeks ago I’d save this for my 10th Anniversary review. Then I went down my timeline to fetch the media for this review, since I hadn’t added that, and I realized “oh shit, I only uploaded videos. Well, that’s okay, the video are still.. on.. my Switch.. wait, didn’t I clean all my media out a few weeks.. ago?” 😦 Well, fudge.

But, Mr. Tako actually is an overall net-positive this time. Part of that is the difficulty is adjustable and therefore more reasonable this time around. It allows you to appreciate the absolutely batshit raving story about a war between humans and octopus, which is so gosh-dang charming and melodramatic that you have to admire it. At times, the story interruptions can get a bit annoying, and the limited Game Boy appearance can make telling some characters apart a bit harder than it needed to be, but I was genuinely invested in where this was all going. Funny enough, as nutty as the story is, it’s also thoughtful and at times sentimental and sweet. I didn’t really care for the human leads as much, be it their arc in the storyline or playing as them at various times in the game, but I appreciated that gameplay was used to drive the narrative. It’s the rare mascot platformer where the story matters.

The boomerang was my go-to weapon. There’s a sword as well, but it has no oomph to it.

So, they added hit points and now a game I barely didn’t like is one I barely liked. Yes, Mr. Tako is fun. It needed less levels with more going on, and less power-ups with the filler cut and the best stuff refined to a mirror-shine. For all the baffling choices made, Mr. Tako still manages to pull-off a worthwhile platforming adventure. That doesn’t exactly sound like a ringing endorsement, but it’s still an endorsement. Oh, I’m all-in on Mr. Tako as the next big indie franchise. I hope it can find its audience this time. And, if not, maybe next time! Assuming the Game Boy stuff is exchanged for 16-bit aesthetics. It’s kind of funny: ten years ago today, I posted my very first review. The Cathy who wrote THAT review didn’t get nostalgic for anything. The Cathy of 2021 says things like “do you know what I could go for today? Super Mario Sunshine! You know, that game I liked when I was twelve!” Maybe if I’d grown-up with the original Game Boy, I’d been a lot more enthusiastic about a game looking this way. Then again, I did grow up with a Nintendo 64, but if an indie developer made a game that looked like that, I’d dunk their nut sack in teriyaki sauce and let my dog eat their balls off.

Save Me Mr. Tako: Definitive Edition was developed by Christophe Galati
Point of Sale: Nintendo Switch, Steam

$14.99 wiped tears away and thanked everyone for ten amazing years in the making of this review.

Save Me Mr. Tako: Definitive Edition is Chick-Approved and ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard

About Indie Gamer Chick
Indie game reviews and editorials.

What do you think?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: