Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams

a game by THQ, and WayForward Technologies
Genre: Racing
Platforms: GameCube XBox Playstation 2 GBA
Editor Rating: 6/10, based on 4 reviews
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Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams
Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams
Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams
Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams

In almost everyway a traditional platformer, Tak 2: The Staff Of Dreams isn't quite the same as it's predecessor, even if it's received quite the face lift. Tak 2 features a storyline where Tak is called upon to save a beautiful princess, foil a terrible evil, and prevent the dream world from merging with the real world. He'll cavort across the landscape, picking up various potion ingredients, and meet powerful Jujus all in a fairly comic adventure to save the world.

The gameplay here isn't that deep, as it's basically a roving platformer with various puzzles that usually involve directing bears to go certain places or bite the crap out of some annoying little squirrel that's in your way. In no way deep, the gameplay is at least light and somewhat fun, and as you progress through the game, you can unlock various 'dinky games', giving you access to these minigames from the main menu. Centered around Juju powers that let you run extremely fast or transform into various animals, some of your old schooler's might get a little flash of Super Mario Bros. 3, and you'd be right to feel so. In addition to our young shamans powers, he carries his mentor on his back, transformed into a flea, who can be thrown at various enemies to bite them (activate a context based action) or put them to sleep.

Definately a kid's game, and extremely linear, Tak 2: The Staff Of Dreams has some really good elements. It's pretty, from the bottom of its forest green textures to the top of its weird and squiggly dream world 'effect'. The cutscenes that drive through the story are amusing, and Patrick Warburton even makes an appearance, an always welcome voice of comedy in my book.

All in all, this isn't the sort of game I'd pickup for anyone but a younger kid, but it's not too shabby, and you might find it worth a drive around the block.

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Game Reviews

Tak 2: Staff of Dreams like its predecessor, last year's Tak and the Power of Juju, is a beautifully realized actioner but breaks little ground in the standard action genre. The flow of play will be familiar to those who've played the Mario and Zelda series' and is especially reminiscent of Rayman.

Our hero Tak starts his adventure in the midst of a long nap. While sleeping, a spiritual entity, Dream JuJu, sends him on a quest to, er, rescue a princess held by the Dream Guardian, who also wields a powerful artifact called the Staff of Dreams. Pretty standard stuff. The added twist of the latest game is that parts of it take place in Tak's "real" world and others happen in his interesting, somewhat squishy and organic dream world.

Culturally Tak seems to be a member of a Stone Age Andean tribe. The music is better than any encountered in a game like this, owing nothing to the more carnival inspired themes of other titles. Maneuvering in the game's excellent graphical setting is like romping around inside an oil painting with your own Peruvian street band providing background music. The graphics are tops, and though the characters hop around in their big-head cartoony way, the landscape and vistas give the sense of a vast deep world, with realistic water and eerie mist and smoke effects.

You'll run, jump, double jump, glide, swing and then hack your enemies with your thwark, Tak's basic weapon of choice. Common enemies include blobbies, woodies and imps, but it won't be long before you come upon even more challenging opponents and level bosses. You will gain special abilities along the way, such as the requisite speed-up, and your sidekick, the shaman Jibolba, can turn into a flea that Tak can throw. If he lands on an animal he can either bite it to prompt it to perform a helpful action or put it to sleep, as the situation may warrant. Animals of the woods also can be employed to help. Bears, skunks, squirrels and others, all lend assistance and/or pose as obstacles in their unique way.

There are fine voice performances and witty, though some slightly gross cut scenes (like how Tak is woken from his first nap.) And there are some decidedly weird characters, like Belly Juju, a spirit you'll meet early on who has some definite issues.

There are the mini games. Reveal them by collecting recipes and ingredients for juju potions. Then Tak and some of the secondary characters can snow and sand board, as well as fight on a phoenix, keep mummies from falling down a hole and refine your flea throwing abilities on some moving skunks. Multiplayer is limited to these mini-games.

Unfortunately as in most games like these, the solutions in the main game are linear, and once you solve a level, you may not find much challenge in it again.

Nevertheless, the execution and atmosphere in Tak 2: Staff of Dreams sets it apart and make it well worth considering.

Personally, it takes a lot from a platform game to impress me anymore as most don't vary much off the beaten path and honestly I had low expectation for Tak 2: The Staff Of Dreams. Sure the first was better then average but I figured there would be little motivation to do more then change the story. Well Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams turned out to be quite a surprise in a number of areas and will appeal to more then die-hard platformers.

Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams opens up with Tak having been asleep for 16 days. Only a rather smelly armpit awakens him and he tells of a dream world where he must save a trapped princess. Although the 'saving a princess'? theme maybe overused, the story itself is well told and original with bits of humor scattered in.

The gameplay offers more then the standard platform game which helps to keep the game constantly moving. The puzzles are reasonably challenging and not tedious, new moves and features such as animal morphing have been added, and basically the whole game is entertaining with a nice flow that good platform games rely on. Another point is that the game will probably take close to 20 hours to complete, so you won't have to worry about finishing it in one night.

In addition the graphics are really impressive, especially the cinematics. The cinematics have a remarkable amount of detail and the character personalities really shine through their design. The rest of the game is also done surprisingly well with various different environments, numerous types of enemies, and an overall quality that out shines most games on the market. The audio also has a good showing with humorous voice-overs with reasonable and appropriate sound effects.

Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams is a worthy investment. With all the other mediocre platform games that continue to be published, it's nice to see THQ go the extra mile.

There's nothing really worth saying about THQ's second attempt at brining Tak to the world of video games. While Tak 2: Staff of Dreams offers up a more robust game with a deeper plot and more abilities, it still does little to separate itself from the myriad of games coming out this holiday season.

In this latest Tak you are on the hunt for an evil shaman who is armed with the nightmare scepter. The key to this latest adventure is Tak's Juju meter, which shows how much magical power he has on hand to perform special abilities. Unfortunately, these special abilities include just about everything you would normally want to do in an action game. In other words, to jump higher, do ground attacks or rolling attacks you need Juju. While, if handled right, this could make the game a bit more tactical in nature, this game doesn't handle it right. Instead of forcing you to think about when to use these special abilities it frustrates you, because there is no choice. When you have to double jump, you have to double jump, there is just no way around it. And if you don't have the Juju you'll need to go scrounging for some.

Tak's one set of new powers allows him to turn into or control animals, something that can be quite fun but doesn't make the rest of the game worth playing. The game's levels have been designed a lot like the levels in the Mario world games. In other words you have an overhead view map that shows where you are and paths to other locations. You can wander the map and choose when to drop down to a level. You will have to beat certain levels to continue to unveil the map. The game's developers did try to add a little value to this game, by sprinkling hidden areas through-out the levels. To find these hidden areas you have to look for sparking spots and then go into dream mode, which reveals hidden platforms and sometimes turns bad guys into good ones.

Overall, Tak 2: Staff of Dreams is an unimaginative platformer and action game with a wildly unbalanced difficulty and nothing that would make you want to keep or even finish the game.

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