JUJU MAKE ME GO CRAZY.
Alright lets get one thing out of the way, I enjoy video games regardless of the age and gender they are created for. If it is a good game then I will classify it as a good game. In my books there is no such thing as a ” I guess for a kids game this is alright.” You wanna know why? Because even simple kids games have to abide by some sort of standard. And don’t get me started on those pre-preschooler games… at that young age you shouldn’t be playing games in the first place. I played Super Mario Land for the Gameboy when I was 6, it was challenging, immersible, and got me to love games ever since.
Now that’s not to say Tak and the guardians of gross is a game designed for kids, I honestly wish that were not the case but tons of things within the game lead me to believe the only person to get some mild joy out of the title would be someone around that age.
The game is the third story iteration in Tak series and after a long hiatus now returns to the Wii. Developed by Blitz games and published by THQ this game sports the nickelodeon splat right on the box letting us know that this is a fine game based on the cartoon based on the game.. In fact one of the special extras on the disc is an episode of the cartoon.
So on to the game, this third story driven iteration now finds Tak on his way to clean the temple, where upon he tries to do it the easy way and what should have been as easy as sweeping dust under the rug turns out unleashing four GIGANTIC monsters that embody everything gross. Tak tasks himself to once again seal these monsters via the help of some new JUJU masters. Each new master offers him a new magic and the motivation to take the monsters down. from there on in its about a 6 hour journey (even faster if you avoid the non-checkpoint fights and run past the baddies) through some cool looking environments and some interesting design choices. Players are generally going to be doing a lot of platforming, light fighting and a couple of aiming and driving missions. It’s key to note that most of the crucial cinematics are cartoony CGI with in-game cut-scenes every now and then. Despite the horrendous witting the voice work is passable. It’s sad and a bit unfortunate that we get to hear so little of the awesome Patrick Warburton (Seinfeld’s David Putty), the man’s voice is always welcomed and I was surprised to hear him in the game..seeing as I don’t watch the cartoon he voices.
Presentation wise things are pretty clean and simple. The Graphics are some what ho-hum, granted the Wii is not a powerful machine and this isn’t a triple A title- still we could use something that does not look like a PSP port. Honestly some areas of the game sport such dated texture work and effects that its hard to understand that this came out recently. But there is something really cool about the game, and that lies in the design of most of the levels. Some of the later stages are pitted on the actual gigantic monsters themselves, and some of the sights are truly unique and cool. The environment design gets kudos as well for picking gross themes like trash, slime, melted cheese, and what could be best described as a gassy jungle. Whats even more cool is that its apparent right away that these touches are so akin to titles like God of War (remember getting Pandora’s box?) and Shadow of the Colossus. So what at first seems like dated visuals gets a notch up in terms of creativity and some truly cool scenes in the game.
Sound wise things couldn’t be worse. I’ve mentioned how I only loved the voice work of David putty.. besides that everyone sports a passive delivery of the horrible lines. It’s an audio assault to hear Tak yammer on about how he can use his wall running skills.. or how he can hit that.. or how he is afraid of heights. The music on the other hand is a surprise, with noticeable ambient sounds and subtle music that kicks in at the right moments. In fact one of the tracks seems so familiar to what I’ve heard in God of War. The soundtrack is a definite plus and probably the most polished thing about this game.
Game play is a mix of light linear platforming – with the occasional cool element that is oddly placed once every hour. The combat is light, very light, in fact you don’t even have to utilize the very few moves at your disposal. I found myself just bashing B over and over until the guys dropped. Occasionally I ended up using an area clearing supermove which is charged by the orbs of fallen enemies. Sure there is a vault move.. a charging tackle.. but really all you gotta do is bash B for the majority of encounters. There are some cool context sensitive take downs that result in some very God of War moments (they really love that game from the looks of things) that just scream excitement, but they’re few and far in between. The boss fights are as linear as the levels with only a couple of places that had me scratching my head- then I realized it was the fact that I could not see that ledge due to the games poor camera. Wii platform games are running into a lot of problems. Aside of Mario Galaxy, no one has seemed to nailed down the camera, and it’s rather sad since we all know how intuitive and hassle free galaxy’s camera was. But the camera will cause a lot of frustrations by positioning you in odd perspectives that will make your jumps seem like leaps of faith and moments were your next objective is not visible due to a poor vantage point. I should note that the simplicity of the game and it’s linear nature make it ideal for young kids, but they deserve better camera and gameplay if you ask me. And God forbid should any of those young ones pick up Tak and his annoying phrases, that alone would be disastrous.. that’s assuming they are not fans of the cartoon. If they are, they will love the game and it’s farty sense of humor.
This is a wii game and controls are very important. Granted I have given up on finding new and innovative control solutions via most third party devs, I still wont knock on a control scheme that isn’t broken. In Tak the controls are relatively simple. You run via standard nunchuck and press A and B for jump and attack. the Z button is mapped for vaulting over enemies, context sensitive actions, and wall running ala Prince of Persia. The only gripe I have is that the magic button is mapped to C on the nunchuck. It gets a bit tricky when you have a context sensitive action followed by a magic display. But besides that the controls work well and don’t require intense use of gestures and awkward motions. There are a few minigames that take advantage of the IR sensor and one that requires you to shake your Wii-mote, but things are relatively cool.
There isn’t much here in terms of replay, the game gets you a solid 6 hour session with mini games for a multiplayer session, the mini games are a bit shallow and ridiculous, but there are one or two out of the handful that might make you smile. There is a standard challenge mode designed to revisit some of the games areas, some cool picture mini games that are used to unlock and view the games concept art and as I mentioned before, an episode of the show.
Ultimately Tak is a game that leaves one confused. Can kids really like stuff like this? Well it’s worth a rental to the die hard fan of the show or previous games, defiantly worth a try to see some cool colossi monsters moving as you scale them, but in the end the series has refused to evolve and fix some of the problems of the original. The game feels dated and at times really lacks any of the depth of modern and classic platform titles. Go play Mario Galaxy, try out Mario 64, Banjo Kazooie, the Jak and Daxter series and then if your really bored or if your young sibling/cousin/child has played them all and loves them TAK cartoons.. rent this one for them.
Game play 2/5