Team up with Tak and Lok in a race for the Moon Juju’s favor.
Tak is back with his bigger, stronger… dumber friend, Lok, to compete in The Great Juju Challenge, a contest that happens every sixty years to determine which village will be given the favor of the Great Moon Juju. Lok and Tak represent Pupanunu Village and will have to beat out the JibbaJabbas, Grammazons, and Black Mist to succeed.
Tak: The Great Juju Challenge is the third game (see our review of the second title) in the series, made in partnership with Nickelodeon, and it’s evident in the imaginative character design and excellent voice work. The writing and delivery of the script is genuinely funny and matches what you’d expect of a Nick franchise, with a taunting and playful dynamic between the two characters. One joke in context is that the different varieties of Rokkers you fight all have a common weak spot: you need to hit them in the jewels – glowing pink crystals set in their bodies. While there are a couple stinkers among the jokes (like the rap set to belches and farts), the overall charm and humor are what really sets Tak apart.
The reason for the team set-up is that The Great Juju Challenge is designed from the ground up to be a cooperative multiplayer experience. A friend can join in at any time with a side by side split-screen mode, and even when you’re playing alone, you’ll need to switch between the two characters to reach ledges, press switches, and take advantage of each shaman’s unique skills and spells. Tak is the speedier of the two and can swim or put on a chicken suit to fly and drop bombs. Lok is stronger and can climb vines, pick Tak up to throw him to ledges above, and don a lobster costume to explore underwater. There are times where multiplayer has its advantages, especially when it comes to speed, since both players can work on tasks at the same time: characters might need to go to opposite ends of the room to activate switches; Tak may need to man a cannon to cover Lok as he climbs an enormous tree; and there are sections where each person will have to alternate their movements through parallel corridors to advance.
The competition of The Great Juju Challenge plays out through the level progression. Rather than searching open stages for treasures or items, you're competing against the other tribes to get the highest score, and the biggest factor in your score is time. So, each stage is essentially a race. You’ll find tons of time bonuses as you make your way through each level, but since you have to take time to figure out puzzles, explore the environment, and embark on side quests, you may need to repeat stages to improve your times.
Once you’ve passed two or three levels, you’ll move on to the Proving Grounds where you’ll choose a car and compete in a demolition derby with the other tribes. The overall scoreboard from the main levels determines which tribe gets first pick of the vehicles, and then you’re off to see who can cause the most damage. The team with the lowest score is then eliminated. After that, you’ll move on to the next batch of platform stages, another Proving Grounds competition, and so on, until your team is the last one standing.
However, part of the story is that the Black Mist tribe is a bunch of cheaters, constantly prolonging their presence in the competition. In the final Proving Grounds competition, the general feeling becomes “Alright I finally beat them! -- Oh no, they rigged the score to tie; time to bash into things for another 400 seconds”. After which, you are treated to a pitiful ending cut-scene with Tak and Lok returning to an empty village with no award ceremony because the village “ran out of budget.” They quickly high-five and the credits roll, deflating any joy of finishing the game.
Tak: The Great Juju Challenge is respectable with some high moments, but the last set of levels aren’t quite as fun, and the final Proving Grounds battle is outright frustrating and repetitive. Since the game can be easily beaten in a day or two, it may be best as a rental.