Mankind has long questioned the existence of aliens. Are we alone in this vast universe, or have we failed to see the signs, and are ignoring the beings around us? Either way, I’m sure one thing that we can all agree on is if they do exist, they will be superior lifeforms who will be entertained by things that our simple brains can’t even contemplate. Can you imagine my shock when my latest review title blew this understanding out of the water. Tamiku by developer Josyan and publisher Ratalaika Games will have you believing that aliens love balloons. Not special all singing, all dancing alien balloons, no, ordinary latex balloons. And also, they love to pop them *BANG, BANG, BANG!!!*
What madness, is this? Extraterrestrial’s who love nothing better than to destroy air filled vessels, well I never. So the plot is as follows. You control an alien from a distant planet. He has blown up every balloon in his home world, so now he must venture across the universe finding blue ones to pop, and red ones to inflate. This game takes influence from classic arcade titles, and its straightforward approach will have you dodging a vast array of enemies on your way to victory.
The aim of the game is simple, run through all the blue balloons, and inflate all the red ones. Once this task is completed, you will have finished the stage. You will move through 8 different worlds and challenge yourself to beat 16 levels. You will experience bonus stages that comprise mini games, and as long as you maintain at least one of your 3 lives, you will keep topping up your score. If you lose all your health, fear not, all that happens is you lose your score, but not your progress. So, dust yourself down, and retry.
Tamiku’s main selling point is its simple approach, and old school arcade concept. Unfortunately, this is also its major downside. Let me explain. As you play, you will find that the gameplay is easy to pick up. You dodge some enemies, and complete each of the levels, fantastic, job done, let’s move on. Now what you find is you load into a slightly different looking landscape, with foes that act marginally differently, but there is a distinct case of Déjà vu. The difficulty doesn’t increase, you simply study the screen, and create a plan of action. You will easily decimate all the inflatables, maintain your lives, and be victorious. And so the viscous cycle carries on, all the way to the end credits. The gameplay, mechanics, or concept never evolves. It’s repetitive, and though it is fun, variety is the spice of life, and unfortunately, Josyan overlooked this.
The developer had such an opportunity to alter the gameplay to make a varied approach, that it was disappointing that they failed to do so. Power-ups would have mixed up the action, or mini quests added during each stage, would have added a new challenge. However, jumping and dodging was the name of the game. And once you master this, there is no stopping you. A “Panic” mode was implemented, where the creatures would move faster, and appear more aggressive. Yet, they still followed the same path, and were extremely predictable. Having completed the game I was left wanting more, I love the arcade genre and was desperate for a hidden stage, or an NG+ mode where I would be introduced to some new game mechanics. Sadly, none of these things materialised.
The arcade influence in this title hasn’t just been reserved for its gameplay, but it’s also apparent in its old school retro graphics. Delightful pixel art and Pac-Man esque enemies await you at each turn. The variety in this game comes from the differences in the landscapes in each stage. If you are a fan of proper old school arcade classics, then you will absolutely eat this up, and will love how the developers have presented this fixed screen fast-paced platform-arcade title.
To match the retro look, you are treated to some delightful synthesised “chiptune” audio. This high-tempo music gets the heart racing and gave me a feeling of nostalgia. Though the audio was simple and repetitive, I really enjoyed it. It emphasised the theme and matched the genre perfectly. When “Panic” mode was introduced on each stage the pace of the songs would increase, and every time I would lose my composure and start floundering. It’s a great example of how simple audio enhances the gameplay.
One of the key game mechanics was inflating the red balloons, and having played this for a few hours, you’d think I’d understand how to do this with the controller. Unfortunately, I never worked it out. I kept hitting the buttons hoping that something would work, fortunately it did, but it would have been nice to know how everything worked instead of just guessing. Fortunately, the rest of the controls were easy to master.
With a lot of the gameplay leaving me wanting more, and me not being able to shift the thoughts that something was missing, would I say that there was a lot to draw you back to play again? Maybe if you wanted to obtain the high score, but other than that, no. A simple achievement list, and no real challenge really dents this title’s replay value, and desirability.
The initial concept, and arcade style is sound for Tamiku, but its lack of evolution, and inability to introduce new gameplay mechanics really puts a dampener on this fun, albeit limited retro, arcade title. When I should have been losing myself to its fast-paced action and matching music, I was left screaming for more. Josyan had such an opportunity to create a modern day retro classic, but unfortunately, they let this slip them by. Do I recommend this? I do, because I had fun, just don’t set your bar too high, and set yourself reasonable expectations. Can you control an alien from a far-off planet and destroy all the balloons? Of course you can! *Pop, pop, pop!!! *
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
Subscribe to our mailing list
Get the latest game reviews, news, features, and more straight to your inbox
Thank you for subscribing to Bonus Stage.
Something went wrong.
Gameplay - 5/10
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 6/10
Replay Value - 3/10
User Review( votes)
Who’d have thought that aliens exist, and they love to pop balloons? Dodge the enemies, and leave no balloons in sight.
- Old school nostalgic “chiptune” audio.
- Simple arcade concept.
- Easy achievements.
- Fun, if not limited.
- Gameplay does not evolve.
- I was left wanting more.
- Very repetitive.