Tak: The Great Juju Challenge (GameCube) Review

By Adam Riley 08.03.2006 7

There are some games that we receive here and just shudder at the thought of having to spend our precious time wading through the mire that is the latest licensed cash-in atrocity. However, once in a while we come across the odd game that shines through the darkness. But can Tak & Co. become part of this minority group? Read on to find out...

The past adventures focused on the trials and tribulations surrounding Tlaloc, a crazy, but quite amusing bad guy. Now he is out of the way, though, the people of Pupanunu have started to focus more on Juju Challenges, with various tribes entering two members into the greatest of all competitions. Tak and Lok are the volunteers from this particular tribe and it is their task to overcome the tasks facing them to become revered throughout the land. How spectacular...but at least the comic nature of the plot's unfolding prevents it from becoming bland!

The only real problem that can be found with the GameCube version of Juju Challenge is that it really does not lift itself above the PS2 version. Yes, we are faced with solid gaming characters and colourful backgrounds. Yes, the frame-rate never slides into a downward spiral of jerkiness. And yes, the scenery is varied and quite a pleasure to play through. But for a system far more powerful than the PS2 and capable of creating such splendour as found in Metroid Prime 2 and Resident Evil 4, you kind of expect a little more dazzle.

Screenshot for Tak: The Great Juju Challenge on GameCube

Run-of-the-mill is quite a harsh term, but it should not always be seen as a terribly negative description, because if, as in this case, the music runs alongside some of the more impressive musical offerings in the gaming world, then suddenly it turns into somewhat of a compliment. You see Tak's soundtrack is just that, nothing special enough to stand out on its own, but good enough to sit beside the rest of the platforming world. What sets it apart, though, is the brilliant use of voice acting, especially having the wonderfully funny Patrick Warburton providing the strong-but-dopey Lok with the exact same voice he used to bring The Tick to life is hilarious fashion.

Avalanche Software is the team behind this enjoyable platforming romp, with THQ on publishing duty once more. The company is somewhat of a Tak veteran now, having created several versions of the game over plenty of systems. But they have also dabbled with the Prince of Persia and Mortal Kombat series in the past, showing they definitely have wide ranging talent within the team. And the experience shows for this latest outing for Tak and his bumbling friend Lok.

Screenshot for Tak: The Great Juju Challenge on GameCube

The adventure starts out with some quite amusing cut-scenes that lead gamers into what is basically the same experience you will have all witnessed before if you have ever come across the likes of Jak & Daxter, Ratchet & Clank, Sly Racoon and, oh yeah, Mario! But that is not to say it does not have its own unique and enjoyable moments. Sure, it might all be about running around, jumping and hitting enemies with your respective weapons and using skilful moves, but the ability to separate the two main characters whenever necessary helps to make some of the in-game puzzles much more satisfying in a similar vein to splitting up the younger and older Mario Bros. in the recent DS RPG Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time.

But there is also a twist to the action in the form of time limits. Once you enter a particular section of the vast world in front of you, a timer appears at the top of the screen. Chaos thus ensues, as players must guide Tak and Lok around the stage, beating off enemies, solving the various puzzles, locating vital items and desperately attempting to avoid careering to your death of the side of a cliff in the midst of your rush toward the final checkpoint and finish line. It definitely adds a welcome change to the sedate pace found in some platform games and the frustration comes not due to the game, but your own misfortune, which is perfectly acceptable. Succeed and you will stave off the challenge of the other tribes that are also competing. Fail and...well, you know the rest.

Screenshot for Tak: The Great Juju Challenge on GameCube

With this being the third outing in three years there is definitely a fear that the idea could be wearing thin as it did with the third versions of Jak & Daxter and Ratchet & Clank. However, the new additions to the series help maintain its allure. The clever use of Tak who can swim, and Lok who instead can climb vine-covered walls (the cut-scene where it is revealed why he cannot go into water because of the fish hating him is pure comedic genius) and their general interaction throughout the game (with Lok able to pick Tak up and throw him to higher ledges, or the two of them being able to upgrade themselves, with Tak getting a freeze spell, for example) is what stops this from sliding into obscure nothingness. Avalanche has flexed its creative muscle and it looks like the series would benefit from making its way onto the Nintendo Revolution in the future. All we can do is hope that proves to be the case...

In terms of how long you will likely play through the game, it should definitely hold your interest long enough to get most of your money's worth from it. Unfortunately, though, The Great Juju Challenge takes cheap steps to elongate the play, throwing stacks of enemies at you that must ALL be annihilated before progress can be made. However, the option of being able to take a second human player along for the ride makes forgiving this flaw a little easier.

Screenshot for Tak: The Great Juju Challenge on GameCube

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Whilst not being the world's most inventive platform adventure on the market, the clever use of character interaction and speed challenges keeps the whole game fresh. If it was not for the rudimentary basics of the genre not being spruced up, then this would be a definite for recommendation. Instead it turns into a 'rent' or 'find cheap' sort of game.

Developer

Avalanche

Publisher

THQ

Genre

3D Platformer

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

An interesting little game that caught me completely off guard...Definitely think about giving this a whirl if you see it in Blockbuster or something.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

Nice one Adam. I'm not sure I'd buy it, but it sounds like it'd be an alright game to give a playthrough.

Thanks Mike. Quite an easy game to review in that it all seemed familiar. However, rather than being too bland, the splitting of characters was quite pleasing in a Banjo-Tooie / M&L: PiT sort of way...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

Good games so far in the Tak series, and this one seems to just be continuing the trend. Totally agree with you Adam, very nice little title this.

Trying to think of a witty signature after 'Hacker-gate'...

Yup, not sure how the DS version fared in terms of quality, but this is definitely a very tight game indeed. Shame it flopped in the UK chart on Monday...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

If the graphics are shameful, shouldn't it receive at most a 5?

To be open-minded, one must admit the possibility that anything and everything is wrong.

They're not shameful - they're very good, but just can't lift themselves above the PS2 version, which itself is a 'shame' :Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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