Tak and the Power of JuJu Review

My sense of humor can best be described as offbeat. When I first saw The Hudsucker Proxy I was in near hysterics from laughter. My parents just looked on and wondered why I lost it whenever someone would scream, “Blue letter!” I share this because I find off-the-wall humor the funniest kind, which must be why I’ve been laughing consistently at “Tak and the Power of Juju.” This game is nine kinds of funny, and the great characters manage to keep stealing the show from one another.

You play as Tak, a genuine underdog of your village. Tak is just not as physically impressive as the village champion, Lok, though he makes up in brains what he lacks in brawn. So it’s a strange day indeed when the villagers are all changed into sheep, except for Tak and the village shaman Jibolba, by the baaad shaman Tlaloc. Tak is then charged with aiding Jibolba, and restoring the village, defeating Tlaloc and saving the day.

Tak’s tribe, the Pupanunu People, also worship the Moon Juju Goddess and she too is having a tough time with that thieving Tlaloc. He’s also subject to more alliteration than I’ve come across in many moons, and the more words that are thrown about the harder I laughed. There’s some seriously strong wordplay here, and it’s a credit to the voice actors that they pulled through it without getting tripped up.

I love the look of this world. The only comparison I have is to the PC game The Curse of Monkey Island which used a similar style. Clouds, water and land are all exaggerated and everything looks fantastic. The graphics aren’t the crispest or cleanest, but they aren’t supposed to be. Frankly, I love the look of this game and feel it works perfectly with the story and the characters. Great music is scattered throughout Tak and I’d catch myself frequently standing around just listening to the soundtrack. Actually Tak himself would catch me, because he would start humming, or shouting, “Charge!” The sound effects are really well done as no two things sound alike. Each weapon has its own distinct sound, all of the monsters and animals are unique, and the aforementioned music is a breezy treat as you play. The voice acting is also top-notch with special honors going to John Kassir, who plays Jibolba. This honey-glazed ham steals every scene he’s in, and has a genuinely funny recognition of the player. Tak is someone who’s completely out of his league and knows it, but still dives into the situation with gusto because he doesn’t have anything better to do. Jason Marsden plays Tak perfectly, and without a hint of irony. Tak is just in the right place at the right time, doesn’t have any grand ambitions or designs, and only wants to help. The controls are extremely easy to get used to. You pick things up by just running over them, you swing your weapon by hitting Square, you cast Juju magic by hitting the circle, and you jump by hitting X. Tak also reacts differently based on which weapon he’s currently holding. If he’s holding a club he’ll jump normally, but if he’s holding a staff he’ll use it to pole vault higher than a normal jump. It’s tricky sometimes to perfectly time a pole vault in order to clear a chasm, but with practice it can be done. I’m having a ton of fun with Tak. The more I play and the harder the challenges get, the more I want to play. It’s a vicious cycle, what can I say? There are usually a couple of solutions per puzzle, but some solutions are not so easy to find or figure out. For example, while on Chicken Island my way was blocked by a guard who would knock me away every time I tried to get through the door he was in front of. So I picked up a sheep and crept past him as he thought I was a sheep. It turned out later that I could have jumped a fence near the entrance and worked my way down behind him instead. This game demands exploration just to find stuff like this. The cinematics are also hilarious, and Tak is just such a likable protagonist that I can’t stop wanting to help him through his quest. After the opening cinematic, I actually felt responsible for his safety and I have to hand it to the developers for making such an engaging opener. The battles are also fun to figure out, like when you face off with a pair of voodoo dolls early on and all three of you are hurling magic back and forth that makes your head swell up. If Tak takes too many hits, his head pops and vice versa. It’s this kind of level that keeps me coming back for more. Tak is definitely worthy of your time. I don’t consider it an extremely long game, but I’m usually slow at platformers and I’ve got a dozen plus hours of enjoyment out of it. This one looks like a keeper, and if you’ve got kids it’s a strong one for them. They’ll appreciate the overtly silly nature of most of the game, but it’s all in good fun and they will have a ball.

Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming. Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter. Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 21 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).
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