REVIEW: ‘Save Me Mr. Tako: Definitive Edition’ Is an Instant Classic (Switch)

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Save Me Mr Tako - But Why Tho?

Save Me Mr. Tako: Definitive Edition is an 8-bit platformer developed by Christophe Galati, self-published on Steam, and published by Limited Run Games on the Switch. A tribute to the Game Boy era, this wonderful game follows Tako, an octopus pit in the middle of a war between octopuses and humans. With creative platforming and a genuinely inspired story and cast, Save Me Mr Tako is an instant classic.

Had Save Me Mr Tako come out during the time in gaming that it pays homage to, the heyday of the original Game Boy, I think we’d be living in Tako’s world. The game clearly draws inspiration from classics like Kirby’s Dreamland in the way its overworld is designed, games like Shantae in its gameplay, and games like Pokèmon and The Legend of Zelda in its music design. But it is also a wholly unique and wonderful experience all of its own.

The concept is weird, but what classic game isn’t? Octopuses and humans are at war, with Bako, a tyrannical octopus at the helm of his army. It’s only a matter of time before their kidnapping and backstabbing render octopuses the rulers of the whole world. That is, unless Bako’s brother, Tako, can overcome his timidness, join the resistance, and stop Bako and the octopus army. Unlike so many games from the early platforming era, the story in Save Me Mr Tako is actually the heart of the game. When you first boot up, you get three difficulty options to choose from. The easiest mode gives you copious lives to begin. It is meant for enjoying the story, since, on harder difficulties where you start with fewer lives or have a permanently fixed number and only one hit, game over means starting from the beginning of a level. And the levels get quite hard. The story is not always perfectly translated into English, but overall, it’s emotional, it’s thought-provoking, and it’s not the least bit corny, despite the farfetched premise. There is a whole aspect about how octopuses are jealous that humans can have children without dying, but they can’t. It’s a genuinely moving and interesting plot.

Save Me Mr Tako is a platformer with some adventure and Metroidvania elements. You bop from level to level, jumping and inking your way from one side to the other. Your ink freezes enemies and turns them into platforms, making timing your jumps and shots key to traversing the elements. Your jump in this game is much higher than you’d typically jump in platformers, making the physics slightly off from your platforming muscle memory. Additionally, there is a big emphasis on watching where you jump. The game implores you early on to hold the down button to check what’s below you before jumping because there are often enemies, pits, and spikes to mess with you. All together, these classic platforming elements feel fresh and creative.

The other key gameplay piece in Save Me Mr Tako is the hats. Throughout the game, there are 40 different hats to collect, each embued with a different power and a cute new sprite. They range from unmissable to hard to find to based in challenges or backtracking. Some are far more useful than others, giving you extra hits or making you move faster. Others are pretty much purely aesthetic. But they add a nice incentive to backtrack and explore since you never know what new hat might genuinely help you in your quest. I only wish that more of the hats had a platforming utility. A hat that lets you shoot arrows, for instance, is useful in the one level you acquire it in because its range is a bit longer than your ink, and it helps you shoot buttons to open doors. But after that, it just becomes an aesthetic essentially. I wish your arrows could stick into walls or something and be used as a platforming tool.

The game design itself is mostly lovely. It may be done in 8-bit with only three colors on the screen at a time, but there manages to be great detail in the characters, environments, and backgrounds. To add color, though, every world has a different colored overlay that can automatically change the primary and secondary colors on the screen, or you can cycle through the color palettes manually to ensure your eyes are okay with whatever color is on screen. I appreciate both because it meant that the whole game wouldn’t be classic Kirby green and that when on occasion, a color assaulted my eyes, I could change it temporarily.

All of the world’s kingdoms have unique and clear personalities, and the characters even have great expression animations when they react to different things or fall asleep. It took me several hours into the game to realize how to recognize who is speaking at any given time, which I found a bit frustrating, but I still could follow along for the most part beforehand. I only wish the game had some sort of journal or means of pausing and recalling which character was which. So many look so similar that I lost track of a lot of the characters and who was who. They all had great roles to play in the story, and I only wish I could remember which ones played which.

Lastly, the music in Save Me Mr Tako is excellent. While some of it sounds quite derivative of Pokèmon and Zelda at times, I don’t care; it’s great music. And the range of melodies throughout the levels is perfect.

Save Me Mr. Tako: Definitive Edition is truly an instant classic. With a few small gripes, this game is perfect for platformer newbies and vets alike as the charming game scales in difficulty but offers ample room for mistakes if you choose to take it.

Save Mer Mr. Tako: Definitive Edition is available now on Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam.

Save Me Mr. Tako: Definitive Edition
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

Save Me Mr. Tako: Definitive Edition is truly an instant classic. With a few small gripes, this game is perfect for platformer newbies and vets alike as the charming game scales in difficulty but offers ample room for mistakes if you choose to take it.