Tak: The Great JuJu Challenge Review - The Next Level

Game Profile

PlayStation 2
Release date:
Sept. 20, 2005
Avalance Software

Tak: The Great JuJu Challenge

Tak delivers the simplicity of old-school platforming in an impressive 3D package

Review by Andrew Calvin (Email)
November 22nd 2005

Lok is a big, dumb member of Team Pupanunu, trying with all his might to impress both his partner Tak and the buxom Moon Juju Goddess. He farts and says the most ridiculous things at the most inopportune times, yet he adds such an important dynamic to the latest Tak adventure, The Great Juju Challenge, that life without him would simply be boring. What Lok lacks in brains he makes up for in machismo—he can throw, climb walls, and beast on baddies like nobody's business and his counterpart, the sharp-witted and nimble hero Tak, has his own unique set of skills powering both through an adventure that is enjoyable to the very end.

Platformers for the 2D generation were a different breed than what gamers experience today. Take Super Mario Brothers—players run left to right, jump, and wield a limited number of attacks, eventually memorizing all the needed patterns to beat the game. Not so surprisingly, that formula still works, it's just packaged a little differently for the younger audience (and 'big kids') of the current generation.

Tak blends old school with all the modern amenities gamers have come to expect of 3D platformers so well that it is the perfect example of a game for all ages. Developer Avalance Software--who helmed other Tak games on current gen machines--built in an on the fly 2-player mode, so two can jointly share the experience of this wonderful adventure.

Responsive controls, if you've read any of my previous reviews, are an unhealthy obsession of mine. I will rarely let a developer go for botching up the single most important part of a game. Thankfully, playing Tak is a refreshing and utterly relaxing experience. Controls are clean, simple, and smooth. You can quickly fly across bridges, double-jump huge gaps, and land in the middle of a group of badguys, hit them with any number of double-button-press combos, and keep moving. Indeed the old days of gaming are alive and well.

Working off these fluid dynamics, the game allows players to switch between the short and peppy Tak and his dimwitted companion Lok by simply hitting R2 in single-player mode. The adventure is rarely a tedious one as Team Pupanunu competes in the Great Juju Challenge to gain the appreciation of the Moon Juju Goddess. Along the way, cut scenes featuring the antics of Team Pupanunu will make even the most hardened adults chuckle as well-done potty humor and gags remove the tension and seriousness of the competition.

Not everyone likes to just jump around all the time though, so there are puzzles to be solved— many which rely on the cooperation of Tak and Lok—and tons of bad guys to be destroyed. It's difficult to say exactly when RPG elements began slipping into platformers, but the ones that are here do nothing to mess with the game's simplicity. As the team moves along, they learn spells that will heal, slow down bad guys, and stink out the enemy. All of these additions make the player feel like a kid in a candy store, sure it wasn't necessary to provide a more robust skill set but it definitely makes the game stand out.

Going with a solid platformer is a no brainer—you're guaranteed to find a fast-paced, precise, and altogether enjoyable experience in Tak: the Great Juju Challenge. While it doesn't redefine the genre or introduce many revolutionary ideas, the smooth co-op play, clean 3D design with a 2D feel, and all-audience accessibility make this a solid title for anyone and everyone wanting to tune out and just enjoy the basics of good game play.

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