Save me Mr Tako: Definitive Edition (PC) Review

By Renan Fontes 19.08.2021

Review for Save me Mr Tako: Definitive Edition on PC

It's become commonplace in the industry for indie titles to fashion themselves in the style of earlier generation video games. Shovel Knight found great success emulating NES-era platformers, but it also made sensible tweaks so as to avoid archaic level design without feeling so modern that the homage is lost. Not every indie straddles this balance well, however, and Save me Mr Tako's original release was criticised for adhering too strictly to old school design conventions in spite of its otherwise strong foundation. While a patch was eventually developed to iron out these kinks, original publisher Nicalis blocked the release, leaving the platformer in a state of unfortunate limbo. Years later, Save me Mr Tako: Definitive Edition is developer Christophe Galati's refined vision finally coming to life.

What seems like a throwback to the Game Boy's 8-bit platformers is actually a story driven Metroidvania with Kirby-esque sensibilities, proper towns, and even elaborate dungeons. Platforming does define the core gameplay loop, but Save me Mr Tako is so much more than 1990s' nostalgia repackaged. In a world where man and octopus are locked in a war to the bitter end, the titular Tako develops a sympathy for humans that's key in bridging the gap between races.

While the premise is clearly tongue in cheek, the script juggles just enough drama with its levity to keep the plot compelling. It also helps that there's a generous amount of dialogue for NPCs that adds an invaluable layer of charm to all the worldbuilding. Dialogue in a platformer can often feel out of place, but strong character writing keeps this from being an issue. NPCs help add context to the animosity between humans and octopuses while maintaining a sense of humour that keeps the narrative from getting too heavy.

Screenshot for Save me Mr Tako: Definitive Edition on PC

Beyond making the title available for purchase again after the original was pulled from storefronts, the main draws to playing the Definitive Edition are the many quality of life features that finetune the experience. The difficulty curve has been readjusted with three modes that can be changed in-game. Standard kills Tako in a single hit, but players start with 10 lives with room for more; Classic limits players to 9 lives at most, really leaning into old school sensibilities; and Heart Mode replaces lives with three Hearts that make getting through each level infinitely more manageable.

Heart Mode is strongly recommended for newcomers and mitigates most of the general level design's shortcomings. Dying in one hit from enemies who can be barely seen off screen is nothing short of irritating and results in players constantly needing to look down on the original to avoid death. While playing it safe is still a core part of the level design, added health negates these sudden deaths on a fresh playthrough while making navigating the larger stages considerably less stressful.

Screenshot for Save me Mr Tako: Definitive Edition on PC

As an octopus, Tako's main gameplay mechanic is his ink. Players can shoot ink at enemies to stop them in their tracks, briefly freezing them while turning them into platforms. Several set pieces involve inking enemies mid-air so Tako can jump to a higher ledge, often needing to change from enemy to enemy. It's a fresh way of encouraging reflex based platforming that doesn't dominate the gameplay either, conceding to traditional platforming and occasionally puzzle solving for variety's sake. In terms of actual platforming, Tako controls smoothly, automatically climbing ledges they're moved up against and sporting a nice arch to their jump.

Tako's skill set is rounded out by the hat system. Each equippable hat augments Tako in different ways, whether that be by adding an extra Heart or changing ink's properties so it becomes a different weapon. There are 50 hats to find that tie into different side quests and add a fair amount of replay value. A hint system has also been added to better guide players from hat to hat, consequently improving the story's pacing since audiences won't be meandering as often anymore.

Screenshot for Save me Mr Tako: Definitive Edition on PC

Besides levels, the meat of gameplay comes from dungeons that play up puzzle solving above all else. Platforming is still in play, but navigation might not necessarily be linear, requiring players to observe their surroundings on a deeper level to make progress. Dungeons are also notably longer than regular stages and can run through a number of challenges before closing out. They're naturally harder than the average level, but make up some of the title's best segments. This also applies to boss fights, which often challenge players to use ink in creative ways while testing their reflexes.

Although it may seem minor, one major strength of the Definitive Edition is the inclusion of Auto-Palette in the options menu. The original version featured 16 colour palettes which players could unlock over the course of the adventure, changing the screen's tint at their leisure. This isn't an uncommon practice for indie titles, but Auto-Palette makes it so each area is tinted in their own unique colour (almost like playing Pokemon Yellow on a Game Boy Color). This lends the adventure a genuine sense of progress while making it easier to notice the eccentricities in individual stages. When it comes down to it, the Definitive Edition makes it easier to appreciate Save me Mr Tako.

Screenshot for Save me Mr Tako: Definitive Edition on PC

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

It's as shocking as it is baffling that Nicalis blocked Galati's patch considering just how much better Save me Mr Tako: Definitive Edition is over the original release. A host of quality of life additions shine a spotlight on what was always a compelling adventure, albeit one bogged down in out of place design philosophies. The revamped difficulty curve makes stages far more engaging - lending them a flow that was previously missing - and the new hint system keeps progress moving at a steady pace. Save me Mr Tako may style itself like a typical Game Boy platformer, but it goes beyond mere homage and reaches genuine greatness.

Also known as

Save me Mr. Tako

Developer

Christophe Galati

Publisher

Christophe Galati

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   

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