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 Post subject: Takotan: Hoshi no Tako (XB1 - PS4 - Switch - PC)
PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2020 8:45 am 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 359
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
Before I review Ginga Force, let's go with another shmup, this one will be a kid-friendly, yet Parodius homaging one. I'm talking Takotan: Hoshi no Tako.

Thrilling beach battles! There's no time to bask in the breeze. Shoot them!

Before talking about the gameplay, let's talk about Takotan's weaponry. From Lasers to Flamethrowers, you'll believe an octopus can throw fire. To pick an item, you'll need to pick a "Capsule Toy" to get one.

BIG SHOT: The "Power Up" of your regular shots.
BOWLING BALL: Throws powerful bowling balls, but they have two negative points. First one, they're short ranged and second they make an arc rather than going frontal. Like the Angry Video Game Nerd said on his Bible Games review of David & Goliath from Bible Adventures. "It sucks. Its just like the rock in Friday the 13th, it arcs over everybody you try to hit. What good is a weapon that doesn't go straight? Like it deliberately dodges your target. What a piece of [EXPLETIVE]."
CUTTER: Fires short ranged boomerangs that either return to you or cross to the opposite direction like the Cross from Castlevania.
FLAMETHROWER: A Short-to-middle range flamethrower similar to those from Gradius V and Contra III: The Alien Wars.
INVINCIBLE: This is a temporary invincibility that disables your firing weapon, but you're able to kill anything that moves by colliding with them as long as Takotan is spinning like crazy.
LASER: A VERY long range laser shot that passes through enemies.
NEEDLE: The Armor-Piercing. Fires a needle similar to the Needle Cannon from Megaman III, but you can only shoot one bullet on screen since the projectile passes trough enemies.
NINJA STARS: Fires shurikens in a frontal shot. You can shoot a total of 4 stars on the screen.
PLASMA BEAM: A crescent moon shaped Wave Shot that passes through the enemies.
SCATTER: A basic 3 way shot. Simple, but good enough to take down multiple enemies above and below you.
SHIELD: This is a defensive item. It deploys a force field that protects Takotan from enemy fire. The only problem is that the shield goes down with one shot like the Shield in Super Hydorah.
SHOTGUN: Fires a Contra-like 5 Way shot, but here's the catch: It has a very slow fire rate.
YO-YO: Another short ranged weapon. It fires a frontal Yo-yo that goes back and forth, causes decent damage, but it suffers from low fire rate.

Along with the weapons, there's other items that will help you in other instances.
CAKE: Recovers 80 points of health.
MINI-TAKOTAN: 1up, adds one more Takotan to the stock.
DIAMONDS: Their value will increase depending on the color: Green gives you 100 points, Yellow 200, Red 300, Purple 400, and Violet 500.

Takotan: Hoshi no Tako is a basic horizontal scrolling shooter which while remaining simple, it still retains some challenge, not just from its basic Gradius/Parodius inspired enemy formations, but mostly on the Dodge feature. Using the Dodge button will make Takotan to zoom into the screen. This doesn't just work on dodging enemy fire, it is heavily used in obstacle navigation in the later levels and that's where the true core of Takotan: Hoshi no Tako is revealed as a skill-based game despite its appearance. Since the game will give you false impressions in later stages, what do I mean with "false impressions"?, making you think it will scroll from avoid a possible crash and you'll have to use the dodge function to avoid getting damaged. From stage 4 to 8 you'll be relying on dodging rather than attacking. Shooting things down has the modern "multiplier" feature where the objective is to keep shooting enemies and formations to keep the multiplier active and increase it.
One special thing to mention is the Twinbee bell-like mechanic on the diamonds dropped by the enemies as they change their color and value with each shot.
When you pick an item and is not a weapon that you want (let's say the Bowling Ball), you're not forced to activate it, you can pick it and wait for another Capsule Toy to appear, hoping you get a weapon you want (like the Laser).
If there's a weakness in this game it has to be the low fire rate. Most weapons only fire one or two shots on screen and only extends the boss fights more than it was necessary, or doesn't allow you to destroy enemies in time.

Getting all the achievements of this game will take you around 45 minutes to 1 and 1/2 hour, basically 1 game session and they're easy to get: Kill a total of 1,000 enemies, kill Stage 2, 4 and 5 bosses, get a total of 30 capsule toys, 20 cakes, 12 green diamonds, 12 yellow diamonds, 12 red diamonds, 12 purple diamonds, 12 violet diamonds and 250 of any color.

There's two unlockable modes once you've finished the normal game. "Panic" is the Expert mode which removes the shield gauge and sends you with the Shield activated and one hit kills you like in Parodius and R-Type. Like in the original game, there's no continues if you lose all your lives, making this game mode only enjoyable for veteran R-Typers.
The second mode "Custom", is an interesting alternate mode because this one allows you to adjust the game to your very own likeness, from increasing the number of starting lives, Takotan's speed, which stage you want to start and even if you want to start with a specific weapon. This allows you to decide if you want a relaxed dogfight or put your self-imposed challenges.

I am the Shrine in the Sky, looking at you, I can read your mind.
I am the maker of rules, dealing with fools, I can kill you blind.
And you don't need to see any more to know that.

When it comes to graphics, the game manages to catch the vibrant colorful 16-bit Konami palettes used on both Parodius and Twinbee SNES games, there's a slight hint to the arcade games Dettana! Twinbee/Bells & Whistles and Twinbee Yahho! in the colors used during the first stages, since the game suddenly leaves its cute-em-up nature as Takotan goes to outer space and into the enemy mothership as it becomes more serious and dark, but keeping the humorous cast of characters at the same time.
Takotan, as its name implies, is an orange colored octopus and its kawaii-kiddie depiction is very similar to Takosuke from Parodius at the point of making Takotan its spiritual successor (learn from that, Konami!), the cast of characters have also a hint of Gradius more than Parodius.

I know the deal: Gnarly, Tubular, Way Cool, Awesome, Groovy, Mondo, Outrageous & Funky

The game throws deja vu's and reminiscences to other videogames as well. The "Next Stage" screen looks like the Special Course of Super Mario World. Even the Takotan moving sound effect sounds like a "Metallic pitch" of Mario's shrinking/Tube entering sound. I've found a sound effect ripped from other games, and that the splashing sound of the first boss which sounds extremely similar to the damage sound effect from the SNES Megaman X games, its like there's one deja vu after another with this game.

That explains why the explosion sprites were so familiar to me.

Something that I've noticed of this game is the use of Megaman graphics, especially the explosion sprites which are very similar (or even identical) to those from Megaman VII. Along with that, when Takotan dies, it explodes in a scatter of 8 pulsing explosion just like Megaman when he dies.

In the near future, Doc Terror and his cyborg companion Hacker unleashed their forces to conquer Earth!
Only a force can stop this evil...

More Megaman reminiscence can be found in the fonts used on the opening cutscene which are the same of all the NES Megaman games (except Megaman VII and Megaman 8), along with the use of the "year 20XX" like in the Megaman continuity, simple details that contrasts with the Konami atmosphere of the game (think about using the Castlevania III in-game font in Super R-Type), the same can be said of the Transformers font used on the "WARNING!!!" message prior to the boss battle.
Along with Megaman and Parodius, the game nods another game franchise: Sonic The Hedgehog, as the in-game Menu reminds me of Sonic The Hedgehog 3.

Luckily for Takotan, there's no B-2 bombers waiting for him.

The old school nostalgia persists as the second stage "The Clouds" looks like the light-hearted storm-less version of the second stage of U.N. Squadron combined with the mountain scenery of the later levels of Forgotten Worlds, until the game drops a greek temple like stage adding some originality and creativity to the whole thing.

Even a flying octopus has to reach the stars.

Well, combats at the edge of the planetary atmosphere are common in shmups. Carrier Air Wing, E.D.F. Earth Defense Force, Thunder Force V and Natsuki Chronicles are some examples, but in Takotan: Hoshi no Tako's case, the space view reminds me a lot of Phase 3 "Scramble!" from Air Buster.

No Konami reference is complete without Bacterion.

Despite being a nod to Parodius, there is room for make a reference to its Gradius roots as we have the traditional Bacterion-like final boss.

Even Thunder Force is referenced in this game!

The ending of this game nods the Thunder Force series, specifically Thunder Force III as we see Takotan leaving the mothership before it explodes just like the Styx.

If there's a way to describe the music of this game is to call it "Twinbeeman", since it blends the cheerful, upbeat Twinbee-like soundtrack with the action paced rhythm of Megaman's music score. However, this is only for Stages 1 and 2 since the game changes said style; Stage 3 "The Atmosphere" is a calmed rhythm that feels more like an underwater themed stage rather than a space one, the rest of the game begins to resemble more of an "Ambient" like music as the stages become more darker rather than the kid-friendly first two stages.
There's voice samples in the game, all of them are these squeaky voices that sounds more like Yoshi from the post-Yoshi's Story era than the Parodius announcer we're used on these kind of shmups.


- The subtitle "Hoshi no Tako" (
星のタコ) means "Octopus from the Stars" in Japanese.
- The game was originally released in June 24th as Octonaut: Hoshi no Tako, but it was suddenly pulled out of the online stores until it was renamed as Takotan: Hoshi no Tako.
- The reason behind the sudden delisting and subsequent name change was a name issue with the childrens TV show Octonauts.
- Gashapon (also called Gachapon) are a variety of vending machine-dispensed "Capsule Toys" which are extremely popular in Japan.
- The name "Gashapon" is onomatopoeic from the two sounds "gasha" (or "gacha") for the hand-cranking action of a toy-vending machine, and "pon" for the toy capsule landing in the collection tray.
- Also, "Gashapon" is a registered trademark of Bandai in the United States. They are referred to as "Blind Box" sets due to packaging requirements by retailers prior to official distribution of the actual vending machines.
- The achivement name "Just ''Desserts''" is a pun on the phrase "Just Desserts".
- "Mech-Annoyed" is a pun on "Mechanoid".
- The game spells Sound Test as "Soundtest".

Everything is alright on a Saturday Night, and I've got all my fellows with their honey by my side.
The DJ spins a record 'till he hits the morning light, and everything's gonna be OK, 'cos it's a Saturday!

Let's celebrate 'cos we've got the spiritual successor of Parodius! In resume, Takotan: Hoshi no Tako is basically the Takosuke game Konami owes us due to its reminiscence to the Parodius character, the Twinbee bell-like diamond mechanic and its SNES-like graphics lives up to that promise, so Joseph Calabro has an idea of how to make a game, and Eastasiasoft brought us a fun enough game to stay on our consoles despite it still has that feeling of being another addition to the ever-growing list of Gamerscore Milkers. Yeah, those "Buy, Play and Forget" games that once they've fulfilled their purpose of giving you 1,000 Gamerscore points, their final destination is to be uninstalled and being forgotten. But in Takotan: Hoshi no Tako's case, it manages to stay on your console for the Konami reminiscence I've mentioned before, since this is what Konami should gave us as a compensation of the insult that was Contra: Rogue Corps, but for the company it looks like if its not Pro Evolution Soccer, they tiptoe their games (Otomedius Excellent suffered that too).

Either if you're urged to get fast and cheap 1,000 Gamerscore Points, or if you're a hardcore Parodius fan, then pick it, you won't regret it. This shmup is "Family Friendly" enough to play with the whole family. Well, is not just fun for the family, it's ideal for your violence-hating friends, and even those intolerant SJW's who can't stand watching girls in revealing clothes like the Otomedius series.
Fan of Transformers, Shmups and Anime-styled Girls. You're teamed up with the right pilot!
Bringing you shmup reviews with humorous criticism.

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