While platformers aren't as common as they were a few generations ago, and few manage to rise above mediocrity - either being sloppily made or made solely for a younger audience - and lack anything that even resembles a challenge, the genre is still loved by many gamers. Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams surprisingly caters for children and adults alike and is certainly a level above the average platformer that you might expect this to be.
The game starts with Tak having a dream which tells him that he must save a princess from an evil dream guardian. Despite being told to him in a dream Tak takes this mission and the game begins. While the story develops along the way it isn't the game's strongpoint and serves little purpose other than to advance from one new area to another.
Those of you familiar with Tak and the Power of Juju will be familiar with that Tak 2 has to offer. Tak himself controls well with the analogue stick and regularly hops onto nearby animals and uses them to traverse the environments. New to Tak 2 is the ability to directly control certain animals and a number of new gameplay sections that break up the standard platforming action. As you progress you'll also gain new moves and abilities.
Thankfully the endless collecting that plagued the first game has been cut back and now isn't necessary to complete important parts of the game. Collecting items will unlock numerous mini-games which vary in quality: A snowboarding game offers some enjoyment and a few others are worth coming back to now and again. The game itself is surprisingly long, providing about 15 hours of gameplay, so the mini-games are a nice addition, but aren't necessary to extend the game's lifespan.
While never offering a challenge that will cause you to pull your hair out, Tak 2 puts up a pretty good fight. This challenge predominantly comes from puzzles that the game throws at you. You won't have to be a member of Mensa to work them out, but you'll often have to use the environments and nearby animals in order to progress. There are a couple of occasions where trial and error and death happen a little too often, but these are rare moments and on the whole the game is pretty fair.
Tak 2 looks pretty great. Tak and the other inhabitants are all modelled well and the game-world is bright and full of colour. Despite the sometimes sporadic framerate and occasionally annoying camera, other than the Sony's big-guns (Jak and Ratchet) few platformers on the PlayStation 2 can match Tak 2's overall look. Voice acting is also excellent and the toilet humour rarely fails to raise a smile.
Tak 2 is a game that won't win any awards, but is certainly far better than a number of other recently released games that have been aimed squarely at kids. The game looks great, sounds great, is full of character and has plenty of inventive puzzles to keep gamers of all ages entertained. While Ratchet and Clank and Jak and Daxter move away from traditional platforming roots, Tak 2 offers a solid and enjoyable traditional platforming adventure that is definitely worth taking a look at, particularly if you are kid who is fed up of under par licensed platform games.