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Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams Package Art
†GENRE
††Platformer
†DEVELOPER
††Helixe
†PUBLISHER
††THQ
†NUMBER OF PLAYERS
††1
†CONNECTIVITY
††No
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Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams

Tak has enjoyed some success in his GameCube outings, with clever character designs, solid gameplay, and loads of humor. The titles surprised many by taking a Nickelodeon license and giving players a great game experience not typically associated with licensed platformers. Unfortunately, this success did not carry over to the GBA iteration of the franchise, which was plagued by boring platforming mechanics and poor design. Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams looks to rectify the situation, but offers little more than tedium.

visuals

This is the one area where the game actually gets to work. The graphics are crisp, and the characters are well represented and animated. The backgrounds are very colorful, but something other than a dominance of purple and cerulean would have been dandy. The ďdream worldĒ version of the regular world changes the background noticeably and to mostly good, albeit non-impressive effect. Some sparkly attack effects and transparencies also make themselves known, and add to the visual package.

audio

Sound effects merely get the job done, while the music is more than tolerable. Though some of the songs get really repetitive, the beat heavy songs arenít too hard on the hearing and complement the visual style of the game.

gameplay

Here, unfortunately, is where things get rough. Tak 2 offers up little innovation to the platforming genre, and suffers from a variety of serious design flaws.

The game allows you to pick which level you want to play, and then after reaching the end you travel onto various sublevels, ranging from mind-numbingly easy to ridiculously frustrating, with not much transition in-between. Several things are responsible for this unwelcome and uneven difficulty. The game is easy in many parts mainly because you hardly take any damage at all when attacked. Also, it is incredibly easy to abuse the terribly programmed minigame that is present at the junction of each of the levels and their sublevels. All you have to do is spin a meter and BAM! Orbs (functioning as money in the game) fall into your lap. You canít lose anything and you donít have to pay anything to do it. Ridiculous. This gives you plenty of dough to pick up power ups should you ever be in legitimate danger.

The difficulty, however, results mainly from numerous points in the game that feature unfair instant deaths, which make you restart the entire level. Spikes and falls are the most common culprit of Sudden Tak Death Syndrome, and you will curse them continuously. For the most part the control functions well, but in several areas that have flowing water, become irritating. The water carries you back with the slightest misstep and makes forward progress incredibly slow. Add to this the fact that you have to use large amounts of Juju power (equitable to a magic meter) for even basic moves like ground stomps, and the frustration mounts.

Tak 2 does feature a potentially great concept: filling up a bottle which when full allows you to activate the dream version of the current world. So much could have been done to manipulate dream/real world environments and get some exploration into the title, but itís used almost exclusively for revealing platforms, which are represented by sparks. These platforms mostly act as paths to orbs, but thereís really no point in going to get orbs when you can just let the minigame throw orbs your way.

Itís not all doom and gloom however, as some puzzles, particularly later in the game, are pretty interesting. Many of them feature prominently some of Takís many powers.Thatís pretty much the only bright spot design-wise, as the vast majority of the gameís puzzles and platforming are nothing more than the most basic progression designs possible, with some truly unfair death spots thrown in to bring on a good old-fashioned match of GBA vs. Wall.

multiplayer

N/A

overall

If youíre looking for a gift for a child, look elsewhere, unless you like watching them break systems. If you like platformers, this one does little to distinguish itself from the masses. If you like Tak, then go for the GameCube versions. If you like yourself, stay away from this game. One can only hope that they'll get it right next time.

final score 4.0/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Mike Spaulding
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"The only thing better than a giant squid is a giant squid with katanas."


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