Takotan initially started its release under a more octopus fashioned name but quickly had to rename and relaunch itself after its botched namesake caused legal issues. That kind of thing never brings great press to a small indie title made in Game Maker 2 which is a shame because Takotan is actually a competently made shoot em up.
Playing as an octopus with a vendetta, you’ll travel across eight stages firing out missiles and bullets from your mouth to battle against various different enemies. What starts out fish themed soon loses its theme entirely as you travel off into space and beyond to do battle with all kinds of weird and wonderful enemies.
Takotan has a few systems in play. Firstly, you don’t have hit points – you have a shield with 1000 points on it and it reduces dependant on what you hit and for how long for. Your shield once depleted can be regenerated so long as you stay out of danger for a while but otherwise, its a one hit kill for our octopus chum. To help, especially in the final three stages when bullets and tight spaces become the common theme of level design, you also have a dodge roll. This spins Takotan off the vertical plain and you can use this to effectively jump over scenery too.
Each stage is littered with enemies which sadly do reskin over time but when they die they leave behind gems. You can then hit the gems with your weapons to level the gems up and score more points with them if you want to. Of course, this means you aren’t hitting the enemies themselves so its a balancing act of going for the gems or the enemies to see which scores more. Enemies drop several weapons too. Some like the boomerang will be handy for double damage, the lasers cover more range, the ninja stars spread out too whereas the rocket launcher will cause more damage but reloads slower. I found my happy medium with the stars that fly behind you too as often enemies strike from all four edges of the screen. This is also handy in the boss battles at the end of each stage. Charming visually, they each have a specific pattern and once you’ve seen each phase once, you’ll know what to avoid and how to take them down easily second time around.
The last thing Takotan has is a special meter that makes him invincible and he spins around the stage firing bullets like a rage fuelled Henry hoover. You don’t get to do it often but it is more fun rather than useful!
Takotan is largely best played by casual schmup fans or newbies as it has lots of options to halve damage from enemies, pick which stage you start on and to ease your experience. There is also a panic mode which removes the shield buffer and gives you a 2 hits then dead option. This is be very tricky, not because of the games’ difficulty per se but because Takotan itself is quite a chonky beast and takes up a chunk of the screen. All of the character seems to be a hitbox and so surviving all the bullets and walls won’t be easy for the purists. Otherwise, you’ll have eight stages, over in under an hour, before you tackle the customised modes.
Cute, fun but short and lacking true replay ability through challenge alone, Takotan is a nice and simple entry into the schmup genre. It won’t change worlds but you’ll have fun playing it with its bright and colourful charm and approachable gameplay.
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