Tak and the power of JuJu (Game Boy Advance) - Review by Andrew



Tak and the Power of Juju is a bit of a strange one really as it's debuting as a video game with a franchise hopefully growing off the back of its success. Clearly this is a little strange and in all my years of reviewing GBA titles I can't ever recall a character being handled in this way. It's not only the handheld platform either; Tak is being rolled out on all the major home consoles too. The game itself is a tale of good vs. evil set in an ancient, tribal world where magic (Juju) actually works. Tak, a young shaman?s apprentice and unlikely hero, must recover moonstones stolen by an evil Juju-man to save the Moon Juju and restore her powers. It certainly all sounds intriguing but is it any good?


Tak is essentially an old school platformer and the object of each level to simply reach the exit. This is achieved via some rather frantic running and jumping and disposing of the odd creature. The creatures in question do become more difficult to take on as the game progresses but because of their obvious lack of intelligence they can generally be avoided by simply jumping over them. Another option is to shoot them with your blowgun although this is not always as effective as you'd wish. The spirit rattle is a lot more powerful but you have to wait until further on in the game before you're deemed worthy of this battle implement. This is where the whole thing starts to unravel because as strange as it sounds there's very little in the way of objectives and some of the levels can even be sped though as long as your health stays... well healthy. This is a bit of a mystery really as the developers could easily have included some essential collectables for you to successfully reach the exit. There are Yorbels, 50 of which give you an extra life, and sheep but amassing these does little for your score or rating. Possibly the best gaming aspect is the ability to transform into a fish or chicken allowing you to bomb opponents from the air or stay underwater for greater lengths of time but these aren?t used nearly as much as they could be and are not always available when you most need them.

Each section (or world) is punctuated by an end of level boss and while this does allow for some interesting deviations from the general platforming they're nowhere near as challenging as they could be. While most of them simply involve you defeating a much larger opponent with more sophisticated firepower others, such as the deflating of a balloon and the hilarious dance competition, manage to keep you interested. Unfortunately there's no option to revisit them and this, mixed with the lack of a difficulty setting, means that once you've completed the game there's little incentive to go back. Still, at least the save is done automatically after each level which is really what we'd like for every GBA title released. This, added to the fact that each level is of a manageable length even for an average gamer, means that the exercise never becomes too frustrating. The flip side of course is that some gamers will fly through the whole thing in a matter of hours.


Control wise Tak is very responsive even when you're jumping and shooting at the same time and while this seems a very basic move it does appear to be something that an awful lot of developers simply can't pull off. Other moves such as the flying and swimming feature very intuitive button layouts. The collision detection is also excellent letting you to tiptoe right to the edge of cliffs without fear of falling. This is important when battling with one of the many creatures that lurk just out of reach meaning you can club them without depleting valuable health.


Definitely one of the best aspects of Tak is the overall design, which includes some detailed and hugely colorful multi parallax scrolling backgrounds. The designers have also taken the time to make these suitably different from level to level avoiding the type of repetition that often plagues this type of game. Unfortunately there's no FMV and instead the story is pushed along by text but that hasn't stopped the developers from utilizing the original source material to produce some wonderfully detailed sprites. This moves us on nicely to the animation and whilst some of it is smooth and detailed it occasionally goes a little choppy for no apparent reason. Overall though Tak is a very pleasant looking title which is always an achievement when compared to the far more sophisticated console versions.


As you might expect with this type of title the soundtrack is very jungle themed with an upbeat cheery tune playing throughout each of the levels. The sound effects complement the on screen action wonderfully and it makes this arguably the best GBA title I've heard all year. Developers Helixe seem to have perfected the combination of audio composition and output with the various music and effects enjoying the same quality audio whether you listen to through headphones on the GBA or through the tiny SP speakers. Remarkable stuff.

Final comments

While Tak is reasonably enjoyable and very good-looking and sounding, you can't help feeling that it could have been so much better. The whole experience feels like an exercise in untapped potential. The graphics are there, the weapons and some wonderful design but it just doesn't seem enough. Why include the seemingly pointless pursuits you initially undertake such as collecting the sheep? Whilst this might encourage you to explore the levels fully there?s no extra benefit for completing the task but simply one of the townsfolk telling you how many you've located. The game also has a very linear feel and the transformations such as the chicken and fish aren't utilized nearly enough. Despite all that younger gamers are likely to enjoy Tak with its medium difficulty pitch but if you enjoy platformers with a twist Midway?s Dr. Muto is a much better bet.

Pro: Great Soundtrack.
Con: Very Short.
Final score: 6.7


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Boxart of Tak and the power of JuJu (Game Boy Advance)
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Genre: Platformer
Developer: Helixe
Publisher: THQ