Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Tak: The Great Juju Challenge

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Electronic Theatre ImageAnother week, another multi-format 3D Platform title, and there is nothing like a Platformer to incite absolutely no excitement whatsoever. But wait, it’s Tak, the star of last years under-rated gem Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams. Tak’s previous outing proved that the 3D Platform genre is still fun,  even without the presence of any bandicoots, hedgehogs or plumbers. Keeping with the same humorous style as the earlier titles, THQ have released Tak: The Great Juju Challenge for the PlayStation2 and GameCube. The mention of a THQ Platform title has alarm bells ringing, but given the high standard of Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams, perhaps we can give Tak the benefit of the doubt?

Tak: The Great Juju Challenge revolves around the adventures of not only Tak, but also his everElectronic Theatre Image hilarious friend, Lok, as they attempt to win the favour of the Juju Moon Goddess by competing in the Great Juju Challenge. The two are incorporated into the game in a similar manner to Ash and Sam in Evil Dead: Regeneration; Lok acts as the pair’s warrior – complete with large wooden hammer – and Tak takes his place of the group’s magic user. Each of the characters has a selection of moves unique to themselves and a range of weaknesses which can be countered through the use of the other character. For instance, Lok can climb and throw explosive barrels and Tak, but can not swim, and not because he is scared of the water, but because fish hate him: a point amusingly explained in one of the games many excellent Cut-Scenes. Tak, on the other hand, is able to swim, throw magical projectiles and utilise a variety of magical abilities, but is not strong enough the put-up much of a fight or carry anything with any degree of efficiency. The characters receive extra abilities throughout the game that fit with their style and the use of both of the characters skills in tandem is required for the later puzzle sections. Tak: The Great Juju Challenge also features an Upgrade System to increase the durability, strength and magic of the two characters but does feel a little underused and tacked on.

All of the games puzzles can be solved through a combination of the two characters abilities and in general, are fairly linear, rarely original and not particularly hard. Which is just as well really, because Tak: The Great Juju Challenge is dissimilar to the average Platform title in that the time you take to complete every Level directly affects your progress through the game. The game comprises of four Worlds, most with three Levels which can be replayed as much as you like. As you progress through each Level you accumulate Points from the collection of Bugs and Crystals, and through the amount of time you have left on the Electronic Theatre Image clock. At the end of each World you are entered into a Dodgems-style tournament in which you must attempt to ram other players to attain points. The team with the highest amount of Points chooses their vehicle first, then the second and so on. The team with the lowest amount of Points at the end of this round is then eliminated and the remaining teams advance to the next World. On paper this seems like a decent variation on a tried and tested genre, however in practice Tak: The Great Juju Challenge is inherently flawed. After the first World the chances are that you will run out of time before you have completed the Level you may be playing, despite the availability of Hourglass Pick-Ups that increase the time on the clock. The game allows you to continue when you do run out of time, and you will, but you will receive significantly less Points at the end of the Level. Experienced players would assume that despite a large Point deficit, there is still the possibility that a win in the critical Dodgems round could Electronic Theatre Image be accomplished. However the game inflicts the player with a minimum Entry Score, meaning that you will almost always have to do each Level twice which feels very repetitive and ultimately, is not that much fun, although the animal-riding sections are mildly amusing.

Tak: The Great Juju Challenge does have one saving grace in respect to this, it features a decent pick-up-and-play Mode similar to LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game which makes Level repetition slightly less mind-numbing, although does not seem entirely fitting with the game due to the lengthy period when player will have to wait around on a Pressure Switch or the like.

Tak: The Great Juju Challenge was completed in a shorter-than-usual development cycle, and it shows. The game lacks some of the polish of the earlier titles, although still remains decent in respect to the average PlayStation2 game with only a few occurrences of Polygon Pop-Up and Cross Pollination. The Levels are fairly linear in their design (complete puzzle, advance, complete next puzzle…) and occasionally are often quite unfortunately dark and uninteresting. However some, such as the HUB and some of the later Levels, do boast impressive visual design. The Character Models and enemies are also of a good standard helping the Tak series retain its trademark cute-style. In-keeping with the standard of humour of the series Tak: The Great Juju Challenge features some of the funniest Electronic Theatre Image Cut-Scenes you will see for a while, backed-up by some great voice work, especially from Patrick Warburton, the voice of Lok. In-fact, Tak: The Great Juju Challenge maintains a good sound quality throughout and everything sounds like you would assume it would in Tak’s slightly surreal world. The music is also pretty good; the earlier Levels comprise predominately of tribal beats, but later give way to guitar solos and riffs.

Tak: The Great Juju Challenge may not be the sequel many of us hoped. It is however much better than some of THQ’s recent handheld Platform attempts, namely The Incredibles: Rise of the UnderMiner and Spongebob Squarepants: Lights, Camera, PANTS! and is not a bad game, despite its flawed premise. The time limit can make this title fairly hard, especially for its young target audience and the Checkpoint System does occasionally mean that you will have to walk back quite a distance, much to your displeasure. However, the game will offer a decent, lengthy challenge to the average PlayStation2 gamer and the inherent cute humour of the title means that, despite being a mild disappointment, Tak: The Great Juju challenge is still a game worthy of purchase for fans of this regularly poorly performing genre. Electronic Theatre ImageElectronic Theatre Image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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