Review: Tak vs. Freddy Krueger
Last year's deluge of platforming titles seems to have stemmed off somewhat, with only the best of the best platformers surviving to their next iteration. Although it may be a while before Nintendo fans get another pure platform game from Mario, who seems to be busy trying his hand at roleplaying, baseball, and tennis, there are still other heroes to take up the platforming reins. Tak, the comedic savior of the Pupanunu tribe, returns to save the day yet again in Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams.
After the harrowing adventure involving the Power of Juju, Tak decides to take a slight vacation. However, this vacation takes a turn for the surreal when Tak's nap becomes a coma-like sleep, in which Tak learns of his newest challenge. Tak must rescue a princess from the evil dream guardian, which sets the stage for Tak to explore both the physical world and a warped dream world.
Anyone who sampled last year's Tak and the Power of Juju will feel right at home with the latest chapter in Tak's life. Tak brings all the traditional platformer abilities, such as running, jumping, double-jumping, item-collecting, and puzzle solving to the table. Tak also has a number of new abilities, such as the ability to morph into an animal and new vehicles stages. These new abilities attempt to add depth to the gameplay, but most don't have any application beyond its specific puzzle/situation. For example, there are a great number of new weapons, magic abilities, and the potential to use juju power to enhance attacks, but few foes are hardy enough to require their use. This makes it more efficient to simply use Tak's basic combo to dispatch the majority of his foes. Also, a map function is noticeably absent. This would have simplified gameplay immensely, since it is very easy to get lost or lose track of Tak's goals during the game.
Graphically, Tak 2 is fairly similar to its predecessor, which isn't bad. The environments and characters are all detailed and colored to a great effect. The overall appearance is intentionally cartoonish, and works well, especially in the dream world stages that have the warped edges to convey the dreamlike effect. Also impressive are the stages where Tak rides in a barrel over a waterfall, and the panning of the camera over the waterfall just before Tak plummets is very dizzying.
Tak's storyline is humorous, especially for the younger audience that it seems to be aimed towards. Considering its allegiance with Nickolodeon, players can imagine the type of humor, although a lot of the jokes will be amusing even to older players, especially the jokes aimed at the platforming genre itself.
Adding to the overall replay value is the fact that there are several mini-games that can be unlocked through the main adventure, some of which are even two-player. Some are available from the beginning of the game and a number of others must be unlocked by collecting certain items or mixing a juju potion. These mini-games include a snowboarding game, a battle arena game where everyone rides on a flightless bird, and a race to the top of a temple. As always, these mini-games, for the most part, are fun and go a long way towards increasing the replay of this game.