Classic arcade games worked wonders by giving you a simple gameplay mechanic and making it work effortlessly whilst increasing the difficulty. These straight forward and simple games may have fallen out of favour over the last decade but some indie developers relish in finding new spins on the genre.
Tamiku does just this. In a twist on the Bobble Bubble premise, you play a character that is tasked with popping all the balloons in the level without touching any of the enemies on the screen. You do this by moving across the stages that are vertically build to leap up and down the platforms with ease. The game has a screen wrap too so both yourself and your enemies can walk off the right hand side to appear on the left. There are two types of balloons. Blue ones which will pop with a single press and red ones that require a quick button mash. As you progress through the level you’ll hit panic mode. At this point any remaining red balloons turn to bombs that will slowly count down to explosion. When they explode its game over. This means you’ll be working each level to clear the red balloons to make the panic mode not nearly as stressful as it could be.
Each of the initial 8 levels have a different colour theme and enemy patterns. You character handles really nicely and the game has a decent and responsive collision detection. It has some quirky tricks up its sleeve, such as a few hidden wall jumps, which you’ll need to keep an eye out for to complete some levels. Watching enemy patterns is key to success, just like many classic arcade modes. When you clear the initial 8 levels, you play the same 8 again on hard mode. This means when you hit panic mode, all balloons turn to bombs! The difficulty curve really ramps up at this point and despite the game only being 16 levels long, I never did reach the end as I got frustrated around level 13. The platinum trophy on PS4 on requires you to clear the initial 8 so the fact I wanted to continue on tells you that the game is decent enough to warrant replayability. There are also floating balloon bonus stages which change things up but they are little more than a very short distraction and are the weakest section of Tamiku.
Where the game does fall down is in its bane bones delivery. This game screams for online leaderboards and more importantly a 2 player timed or co-op mode. It would be perfect for a quick fire local multiplayer race but sadly its missing. This is made all the more frustrating because the seed of something actually pretty great is here. The controls work, the collision detection is fair, the gameplay cycle is fine (if lacking variety) and it does have a one more go factor to it. I’ll quote an old comedy show and say ‘its a near miss’.
All in all, Tamiku delivers a small but well formed arcade classic experience. Older gamers will get more out of this throwback than younger gamers perhaps but I think Tamiku deserves your time if you enjoy Bubble Bobble, the original Donkey Kong and Burger Time.
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