Save Me Mr Tako: Definitive Edition (Switch) Review
If you’re thinking, ‘Haven’t I already seen Save Me Mr Tako?’ on the Switch before, you’d be correct. In 2018 it was published by Nicalis. Unfortunately, they didn’t allow the developer Christophe Galati to patch it with some important fixes to improve the game. So it was delisted, and Christophe set about making the improved definitive edition that’s available now. Can a re-release help bring peace between the Octopus race and humankind?
You play as Tako, an octopus who finds himself on a quest to bring peace between the warring races of humans and octopi. Tako’s brother, Bako, is head of the Octopus army, leading the takeover of the human world. Befriending some humans on the way, together you will have to stop Bako and his army from taking over the land. It’s a charming story and will keep you busy for a while as you work to save the day.
SMMT is a platformer where you can shoot ink at enemies to freeze them on the spot. You move through the world, taking on levels within hub areas and returning to some when you have the suitable ability to clear an obstacle. If shooting ink isn’t enough, there are also various hats to be found and collected within the game. There are over 40 hats for Tako to wear. My favourite turns the ink balls into further-travelling arrows (which still act as ink), but some provide a little extra health, some will kill enemies instead of freezing them, and a fair few are more cosmetic changes. Uncovering all of the hats is a nice side quest to work on as you make your important journey across the land. When you do obtain hats with powers to destroy obstacles in the levels, you can also go back and rescue the previously-blocked off captured humans and finally 100% the level.
Octopi aren’t known for jumping all over the place. It’s only through a gift given to Tako that he can even survive easily out of the water. Being a 2D platformer Tako will be jumping a lot, and he can jump surprisingly high too! Often you’ll freeze creatures to create platforms for getting even higher up, being able to scrabble up if you’re close enough to the edge. I enjoyed the platforming most of the time, although it can take a little time to get used to how Tako moves and jumps. The jumps can be especially tricky when you need to do some precision platforming in a small space. I died mostly from misjudged jumps in those spaces. The grabbing/scrabbling onto edges mechanic feels unreliable, with Tako not constantly climbing up even though he just did it with another edge. I never felt it caused me to lose any lives. At most, it made getting to some out of the way collectables take a few seconds longer.
One of the issues noted from the original release was that it was too difficult. Tako was only able to take one hit, two with a hat, and he’s out. You could only gain a limited number of lives at any one time, making them all the easier to burn through on more challenging levels. For the new edition, you can play it how it was, but you also have the option to play it on a more accessible setting called hearts mode. You can take more hits before dying, and I never had an issue building up my collection of lives for Tako. There is a bonus for completing the levels on the original setting if you feel hearts mode is too easy.
Having not played the original version, I can’t speak to the changes made, although I have read what Christophe wanted to address with fixes. Of course, having played the definitive edition, I can tell you that it is an enjoyable platformer where the extra work put into this game has helped. While difficulty might not be as tough as it was, it’s still hard, just less punishing for it.
The entire game is a loving homage to the GameBoy era, from the monochrome colours right down to the sounds and music. It is a game that would’ve been right at home on the GameBoy. It’s not just the familiar green of the GameBoy here, with a range of different coloured filters, bringing back memories of the Super GameBoy attachment. There’s a fair few colour filters to select from, and some more subdue, and some are so bright I couldn’t look at them for long. I preferred to leave it on the auto filter, where it uses the colour intended for each area. But if you don’t like those, it’s only a button press away.
The music has hints of classic games; it’s hard not to get a Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening feel, but once again, the tunes hold up on their own.
Save me Mr Tako: Definitive Edition takes most of the issues of the original game and fixes them up. This edition is all the better for it; hearts mode makes the game more accessible by being less punishing in general. Mr Tako will make you nostalgic for your old GameBoy games, but it’s also a pretty good game on its own.
+ Captures the retro look and sound of GameBoy era gaming
+ An enjoyable platformer in its own right
- Jumping and grabbing ledges isn’t always reliable
- Some colour filters could burn your retinas out