Tak 2 The Staff of Dreams ReviewCain Dornan
Tak and the Power of Juju offered a simple yet humorous platform adventure that allowed younger gamers to enjoy the simplistic gameplay and the older generation appreciate the light-hearted approach to the over-populated platform genre. Due to the somewhat slight success with the original, developer Avalanche has returned with the sequel to the Nickelodeon-licensed platformer, Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams. Tak 2 continues the tradition of the original, providing simple yet enjoyable puzzles and humorous cutscenes. In an essence, Tak 2 is almost everything a sequel is ought to be; bigger, larger, and more creative. Unfortunately, the niggling problems that were included in the original have made a noticeable return in the sequel, which lowers the overall enjoyment of the game.
The game begins with our small hero taking an extremely long, deep sleep, which lasts for sixteen days. During this time, Taks mentor, the wise Jibolba, has been unsuccessful in waking the sleeping hero. Following a somewhat humorous cutscene where Jibolba and his dopey sidekick attempt to awaken Tak, we are introduced to the basics of the game through a creative dream, filled with highly imaginative sludge-like creatures in a cheerful, bright world You are guided through the tutorial by a floating, talking cloud, which teaches you how to jump, attack and so on. In addition to your training, you are informed of the games main aim: to save a helpless princes from the clutches of evil. Failing to save the princess will result in ultimate doom. Like the entire game, this main aim is presented in a somewhat humorous way, squashing the classic save-the-princess-from-evil clich.
Once the unique dream has finished, you begin your peculiar quest to save a princess who you have never seen, let alone know. As you progress through the game, you will re-visit your dreams on numerous occasions to acquire further skills and combos, as well as obtaining further information on your quest.
Tak controls the same as he did in the original. Controlled with the left control stick, the right serves as the camera control, allowing you to freely swing the camera around Tak. General attack, menu controls and so on are assigned to the buttons, allowing you to effectively issue commands. Unfortunately, controlling Tak can sometimes feel rather clunky and frustrating at times. Although it is considerably better than numerous other lower-quality platformers available on the market, the controls arent quite as precise as needed.
To keep the game interesting, developer Avalanche has dished out an interesting array of level designs and activities. Although the game is largely compiled of the basic platforming aspects, a number of other levels have been included which give a welcomed variation to the gameplay. In one level, Tak is thrown into a barrel and sent cascading through a ravaging river, complete with jagged rocks, fallen trees and terrifying waterfalls. During the latter part of the game, Tak is rewarded the ability to transform into various animals, such as a bear or a frog, offering players a new, refreshing option to complete levels.
As with any solid platforming title, Tak 2 offers various puzzles throughout the course of the game. These vary in difficulty, with some being extremely obvious and simple to solve, whilst others requiring further thought and skill. Although some puzzles appear to have been inspired by previous platformers that have appeared over the years, a large number of the puzzlers are quite unique. One example of a unique puzzle that occurs early in the game is the problem of Tak gaining access to a cave containing explosives behind a rushing waterfall. In order to do this, Tak needs to undertake a variety of tasks to move objects and animals to the correct positions. Tak first needs to swindle a skunk into spraying Tak with its awful stench. Once sprayed, Tak needs to move a lazy bear to a new location by scaring the bear with the powerful skunk stench. This allows Tak to be hurled by the bear over to the cave, essentially giving Tak access to his goal: the explosives.
An example of a slightly more simplistic puzzle is when Taks mentor Jibolba transforms himself into a flea. This allows Tak to throw the flea onto various animals, giving Tak the option of biting the animal or putting it to sleep. Biting the animal often results in an action occurring, such as a lever of a bridge being lowered, whilst putting the animal to sleep allows Tak to sneak past hostile creatures.
Unfortunately, the level designs can often prove to be a confusing experience. Although the levels can often be quite open and widespread, the game is incredibly linear, with what you are required to do is often not being displayed clearly. On numerous occasions did I find myself completely lost for some twenty minutes, trying to figure out what I needed to do next. This severely disrupts the gameplay and often results in you losing interest in the game for a period of time.
Tak 2 runs on a solid graphics engine, producing quality graphics that compare equally with todays standards. In-game graphics offers a colourful, vibrant world that never contains any flickering or discolorations. The cutscenes, which appear often throughout the game, offer significantly more detail than the in-game graphics, with well-detailed cartoon facial expressions that are quite impressive.
Considering that Nickelodeon has licensed the game, it comes as no surprise that Tak 2 offers quality, outlandish voice acting which suits the game perfectly. Each character offers an extremely unique voice that fits them perfectly. A number of quality sound effects are also on offer, although some less impressive sounds are also in abundance. The music, like the original, is far from memorable, although it serves appropriately to the whole style of the game.
Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams is a consistently humorous platformer that will appeal to both the younger audience and light-hearted adults alike. The varied jokes, which range from a simple five-year-old schoolyard joke through to a joke that contains actual depth and meaning, appear in virtually every cutscene and conversation. Like the original, Tak 2 offers a slightly different take on the over-populated platforming genre.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.