WayForward brings Tak to the GBA for his third portable adventure.
Tak: The Great Juju Challenge is a strange beast. While it's meant to be a kids game, it seems to be awfully, awfully difficult. Not "Oh this is hard, I'd better try again" difficult, not "This is really getting my angry" difficult. No. Tak seems to take you through difficult and out the other side into another level of difficult, where you are constantly hit in the face by waves of intense hatred, and your hair may possibly be on fire.
Great Juju Challenge was developed by WayForward, and that fact is most obvious in the graphics, particularly for Tak and Lok, who look similar in design to Shantae in this game. The animation for the pair is quite detailed, as you'd expect, and the levels themselves look great. Even the world maps have a really nice look to them. Due to the detail in levels, however, you'll find that you'll be experiencing some deaths that simply aren't your fault, but instead are because of the limited view on-screen. Water means instant death, and in levels where the water is rising and falling constantly, leaps of faith are common since you can't even see the water. This situation is incredibly frustrating.
The game has you controlling either Tak or Lok, each with his own talents. Lok can hit things repeatedly, break blocks, dash, mid-air dash, and get an overhead shield. Tak can...er, fire long distance shots. It's quite strange, actually - both characters run at the same speed, but Lok is given all of these high-powered attacks and combo moves, while the main character gets the shaft, so all he can do is hit things far away. You'll find that for most of the game, you'll be playing as Lok simply because it's more convenient.
The game is divided up into worlds, with three stages, a boss battle, then a totally unrelated catapult race to complete. The boss battles are a simple case of "work out the pattern, then hit three times", but the catapult races (played from an overhead perspective) are extremely difficult. The first couple of times you play the catapult races, don't be surprised if you lose simply because you're not sure what's going on. There are powerups to collect during the races, but some of their symbols can be unclear as to what they do. There are also speed boosts, but they are easy to miss due to the fact that they're nearly the same colour as the ground.
Great Juju Challenge's story revolves around Tak and Lok entering a race against other tribes, but most of the game doesn't feel like you're taking part in this race at all. In fact, the only time it does feel like you're racing is when you take part in the obligitory catapult race at the end of each world. It seems to me to be a bit of an oversight.
The game does have some great moments, however - there are puzzles where you have to carry stones that look like chicken eggs and place them on an altar to move forward, but wouldn't you know it, later on you encounter killer chickens who think you're stealing their eggs. So it becomes a challenge of picking up and throwing the egg-shaped stones towards your goal without getting murdered by poultry. There are also a couple of situations where Tak and Lok are chased by a giant boulder that takes up the entire screen. You literally have to run for your life in these sections, which is hectic, but great fun.
Tak: The Great Juju Challenge is difficult to grade. It looks and sounds fantastic, no question. There are some moments when the gameplay really does shine, but most of the time it's unreasonably difficult, or just dull. If you can find it for a reasonable price, check it out, as you might get some fun out of it, but don't go in expecting too much.