Save me Mr. Tako! is a single-player Game Boy inspired platform game where you play as Mr. Tako, an octopus who sets out to stop a war between humans and his own kind. On his adventure, he can discover up to fifty special hats, each of which give him a unique power or ability. This retro throwback is a great, nostalgic trip with simple gameplay that pairs a variety of platforming elements to a well-paced and unpredictable story. If you grew up during the original Game Boy days and have warm memories of playing black and white (or green-scale games) under a Worm Light, then this game will right up your alley!
This title has been in development for at least four years, by a lone French independent game developer, Christophe Galati. In recent years Indies have started coming to home consoles, especially with the massive success of the Nintendo Switch. We’ve become accustomed to playing catch up with many of the games coming out from the PC releases several years back, but Save Me Mr. Tako breaks that trend and Switch owners will get to play it right away!
In this game you move about the world as you’d expect in a 2D action platforming game. In addition to walking left and right and jumping, you can spit ink at enemies to freeze them in place. This is great to pass by them, but many times you’ll want to use their newly frozen body as a stepping stone to help you reach higher areas. The stages are varied and have different goals. Sometimes you just make it to the end of a level to move onto the next, and other times you have to open a path through the level in order to rescue a character, or fight a boss. In the first dungeon I encountered, I had to hit many switches to open a path to bring together two characters (including Mr. Tako) to proceed. Unlike many games of this type where the levels are mostly horizontal, this one has a lot of verticality to it and you never know what might be waiting for you just off the screen. Luckily you can hold down on the directional stick to move the camera down to spot the hazards below. You’ll want to be careful where you jump and where you land.
Mr. Tako can discover up to fifty hats, which give special powers and abilities. Early on, there’s The Hat of Friendship, which allows you to take one extra hit before being defeated. The Prince Hat allows you to shoot arrows, and The Umbrella offers protection from falling objects. I used The Prince Hat to shoot arrows beyond the view of the screen in order to activate switches in an early dungeon, which I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to activate. The gameplay is so simple, with just two buttons for input, like a Game Boy game, so the hats are a big deal when you’re playing, adding a nice amount of variety to the game. The environments also offer some unique challenges. In one dungeon, I was jumping into large flowers, which would spit me out across the room into another flower, which would spit me out again into a wall or even another flower, like being shot out of a cannon and into another. I jumped into one of these, and got spit into some spikes in the ceiling, and quickly learned that I should jump over it instead.
This is a linear platform game, but the story unfolds in such an unexpected way that it feels like you’re playing through the story and not just getting from point A to point B. The game begins with Mr. Tako rescuing a human princess, and befriending other humans as the octopuses prepare for war against them. From a central area, you enter a door to enter a level. Once you complete the level, and you’re brought back to the previous area where a second door appears, and so on. Sometimes these doors lead to a village. Other times they can lead to a small area where there’s a fairy, a witch, or just something else which advances the story, causing the next door to appear. The game is linear in this way, but there are times when you have to return to a previous place through these doors. When you arrive there’s new music or a cut-scene to advance the story.
As mentioned earlier, the graphics in this game will remind players of the original Game Boy. You can play it in widescreen, or you can play it in classic 4:3 aspect. You can also choose from several nice backgrounds (borders) in the game menu, and at any time, you can change the color palette of the game, just like the old Super Game Boy, with the L and R buttons. I appreciated the simpler graphics and unique style of the game, something not seen too often these days.
Expectedly, the game sounds like a Game Boy title, but there’s something more to it. There’s a melody that is used throughout the game. In one level, it’s a happy, simple melody, and as the story advances, it appears in different ways that are exciting or dramatic, yet it’s the same tune. As part of the story, Mr. Tako and other characters even sing this song, so in this way I think the soundtrack is great and memorable.
Save me Mr. Tako! is a great game to play and feels especially at home when playing in portable mode. It’s simple to learn, and even though it doesn’t seem possible to get lost, it doesn’t feel too linear because you do return to some areas in the game to progress the story. With spot-on controls, fun gameplay mechanics to discover and learn, and a unique presentation from a bygone era, this is one that’s sure to satisfy many older gamers out there and might intrigue younger ones as well.
Save Me Mr Tako! Review
Final Thoughts: GREAT
Save me Mr. Tako! is recommend for classic gamers and fans of independent games alike. It’s easy to play, but the story keeps pulling you along and the gameplay evolves with the story through both the hats that you discover, and the surprising things that you’ll find in the environments.
Adam “McSNES” Martinez, gaming drop-out and FuncoLand ghost, has spent his entire life training to review games for YOU, the loyal readers of Nintendo Times. Adam is permanently banned from Final Fantasy XI: Online, his favorite game.