Save Me Mr. Tako! Review
Christophe Galati is clearly a fan of the spinach hued days of the Gameboy, and Save Me Mr. Tako is very much a passion project that does what it set out to do very well. If you’re a fan of retro-style platformers than Save Me Mr. Tako is absolutely something you’ll get plenty of enjoyment from, but if you’re in the market for a retro title with a more modern sheen, you may not find that here.
Starting development on Save Me Mr. Tako! back in 2014, Galati focused on making a title that really struck that chord that is so popular with those who enjoy retro games. Retro-themed titles absolutely still have their appeal in this day and age. Shovel Knight is the shining example of this style of game, but there have been other efforts such as Inti Create’s recent Castlevania-esque Curse of the Moon that successfully remind us of the good old days without feeling dated, but I wish I could say the same of Save Me Mr. Tako. It is definitely authentic, but I feel like this focus to make things feel as close to a Gameboy title as possible actually hurt the game more than help it. Tako’s movement feels reasonably smooth enough, but at more than one point I’d find myself dying to something I hadn’t quite touched. Annoying, but like many games of that era, it’s not something you’d be unfamiliar with if you are a fan of this era in gaming.
Mr. Tako controls well, for the most part, but our plucky pacifist is surprisingly frail, dying in one hit to anything that looks at him funny. You can help lighten this harsh penalty with a variety of hats, allowing you to take two hits instead of one. Some hats are purely quest focused, such as to show an NPC something cute, but some even go so far as to change how Tako behaves such changing his ink shot to a chaotic bouncing ball, or even a bow and arrow if you’re feeling a little Hood (sorry). There are over 50 of these hats in the game, and while they may not all actually impact how you play, they do have tangible differences, so feel free to mix it up. The platforming gimmick is fresh as well, which involves you freezing enemies with your ink shot to create platforms, helping create a unique way of approaching level design. Lives aren’t terribly hard to come by either, following the classic “grab 100 gems/coins/whatever to get a life” and the ability to re-equip a hat when you hit a checkpoint in a stage is welcome as well because some of the later stages capture that old-school challenge.
Galati has put a ton of effort into this game though, and it shows. Sticking to available color palettes available on that sort of hardware back in the day, you have a wide variety to choose from, with only some being a little too harsh on the eyes. You can swap these palettes on the fly using the shoulder buttons, even tossing in different borders if you are pining for a bit more of a Super Gameboy flair. The music is also excellent, being composed in such a manner that it is as authentic-sounding as possible. The music in Save Me Mr. Tako! is definitely a high point for the game, and across its numerous tracks, I found myself surprised at the sheer variety of tunes that I got to listen to, many of them actually being quite good. Particular scenes were surprisingly somber for what little tools it had to convey emotion with, and across Mr. Tako’s quest to do the right thing, you’ll never be treated to dull music, that’s for sure. This is especially impressive considering this is the composer, Marc-Antoine Archer’s first jab at this kind of music. Save Me Mr. Tako! is also a surprisingly meaty game, featuring a variety of sidequests that have you traveling back and forth across the Kirby-style overworld, helping all sorts of weird characters. Sadly, there is no way to track sidequests, so bust out those notepads and make sure you know where you’re going.
Overall, I can’t really fault Galati for going all in on that nostalgia feeling. In this day and age of near photo-realistic graphics, returning to the industry’s roots is always welcome. Between the efforts of Galati and Archer, they’ve created a title that would be right at home on on a handheld console back in the day, provided it would even fit on one of those tiny cartridges, but they very much get what inspired people to go beyond this format to what we have today. If you’re looking for a truly authentic retro experience, then you can’t go wrong with Save Me Mr. Tako! just keep in mind that it even comes with the negatives of that age of games. Despite those shortcomings though, it’s a charming romp through and through.
**Switch Review code provided by publisher**
- Good price for amount of content
- Excellent music
- A bit too old-school
- Some dodgy hitboxes