Tak and the Power of Juju PlayStation 2 Official Website
Developed by Avalanche Software
Released - Out Now
Price : £34.99
When Deaf Gamers was started, just over four years ago now, we knew that it wouldn't be easy as most games had accessibility problems. As time passed though it's been pleasantly surprising how games have arrived and have been wonderfully accessible. The norm is still for games to have a few problems but overall I feel progress is being made. However we still get the odd game that is a hopeless case for deaf gamers and regrettably Tak and the Power of Juju is one of these.
Tak and the Power of Juju, as you've probably guessed from the title and screen shots, is a game that's squarely aimed at children. The game represents a collaboration between THQ and Nickelodeon, the TV company who specializes in children's cartoons such as the Rugrats. The game's hero is Tak, as you've probably guessed, but this is only because the expected hero, Lok, has been turned into a sheep. The game is set in an ancient tribal world and all was fine until the evil Tlaloc, a power hungry shaman stole the moonstones that protected the people from evil Juju. With the moonstones now gone the Moon Juju, a tribal goddess, is defenseless (as the moonstones gave her power) to help the people. To add further insult to injury Tlaloc has turned most of the villagers into sheep. Help is at hand though and a good shaman, Jibolba, has instructed his apprentice, Tak, to try and sort the situation out.
The game is basically a 3D platformer that all things considered wouldn't be that bad if there weren't so many problems for deaf gamers (more on that in a moment). Tak can use various animals to help him in his quest and he can ride on the back of Rhinos for instance which will also allow him to smash through obstacles he normally wouldn't be able to. There are also some additional elements such as the ability to 'snowboard' through the sand in the Numa Dunes. Most of the game sees you collecting objects and doing the usual platform game stuff. Nothing in the game is innovational and it's all been done before but it still comes across as a decent game.
There are around a dozen different locations in the game and they don't look too bad at all. The game begins in Tak's village but you'll soon be exploring such exotic locations as Powder Canyon, Chicken Island and Numa Dunes as Tak progresses with his quest to reclaim the moonstones. Unfortunately the game does suffer from awkward camera angles, like so many games in the platform game genre, and even though you can manipulate the camera angles with the right analogue stick there are still times when you can't get an acceptable viewpoint. The graphics themselves are chunky and typical child game style but there are some good textures and effects in there to give the whole thing a pleasant look. The frame rate does take a dive occasionally but it doesn't harm the game play in any way.
So far so good but when it comes to accessibility for deaf gamers it all goes pear shaped. No speech in the game is subtitled so you'll have no idea of the story and no idea of what to do. The tutorial messages, for the most part, are not shown in text either. However from the pause menu you can access the control information but this is hardly a substitute for the tutorial messages being subtitled. Occasionally an abridged version of a tutorial message will appear in text which is strange because with all that's missing why did they bother? You can find out your objectives by pressing the select button but to be honest it's still a very poor experience for deaf gamers. When it comes to the crunch Tak and the Power of Juju just isn't for deaf gamers and that's all there is to say on the matter.
Game Rating: 3.5/10
The lowest score I've given in a while but it's exactly what it deserves. Why on earth didn't they include subtitles? Why wasn't the tutorial messages shown in text? More importantly why should you pay good money for a game that doesn't really cater for deaf gamers?
Appalling provision for deaf gamers. Simply not worth it.