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Video Game / Tak and the Power of Juju

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"Some heroes are born. Some heroes are made. Some... make it up as they go."

Years before they developed Disney Infinity and Hogwarts Legacy, Avalanche Software created this 2003 Platform Game for THQ and Nickelodeon on the PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, and Game Boy Advance. Notable for being the only console video game series produced by Nickelodeon Games that was not based on an pre-existing Nicktoon as well as the first (and more well-known) of only two original properties created by the otherwise Licensed Game-oriented Avalanche (the other property being 25 to Life), the game tells the story of Tak (Jason Marsden), a young shaman-in-training who lives in the jungle village of the Pupanunu People under the tutelage of the wise shaman Jibolba (John Kassir). For years, the Pupanunu have lived a peaceful existence thanks to the protection of the Moon Juju (Tina Illman), a powerful tribal goddess and a member of a race of powerful magical spirits called Jujus.

Unfortunately, Tak's home is put in jeopardy by Tlaloc (Rob Paulsen), a nefarious and power-hungry shaman who seeks revenge on the Pupanunu people after losing the coveted position as High Shaman to Jibolba. To achieve his vengeance, Tlaloc steals the moonstones which are the source of the Moon juju's power, using them not only to weaken the Moon Juju but also to turn the villagers (sans Tak and Jibolba) into stupid, helpless sheep.

Fortunately, a prophecy foretold by previous Pupanunu shamans predicts that Tlaloc will be thwarted by a mighty warrior trained by the High Shaman who will save the Moon Juju and bring peace back to the tribe; Jibolba is convinced that the mighty warrior is his other apprentice, Lok (Patrick Warburton). Unfortunately, Lok has seemingly also been turned into a sheep by Tlaloc, forcing Tak to go on a series of Fetch Quests in order to turn Lok back to normal.

It got two sequels: Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams (2004) and Tak: The Great Juju Challenge (2005). The franchise was later adapted into a short lived Nicktoon with two extra tie-in games in 2008 called Tak and the Guardians of Gross and Tak: Mojo Mistake.

Tropes for the Game:

  • The Ace: Lok is presented as such... and proceeds to be mocked relentlessly from then on.
  • Animals Hate Him: In the third game, Lok is instantly attacked by fish whenever he enters water without his lobster suit. He states that he does not know why fish hate him, as he has never harmed a fish.
    • In the first game, Lok is literally flattened by a flock of sheep when he tries to calm them down.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When Jibolba describes the plight of the Pupanunu people, he calls the Moon Juju "strong, and nice, and oh so beautiful." Then he mentions Tlaloc having imprisoned her, and states that Tlaloc isn't nice, "and he's certainly not beautiful."
  • Artificial Stupidity: Nerbils have the ability to follow you across platforms by jumping, but they don't necessarily know which distances are actually crossable, so they can easily end up falling to their deaths.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: Tak uses Tlaloc's own tricks to defeat him.
  • Border Patrol: The electric jellyfish in the original game.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The first game opens with Jibolba summoning a mighty Juju to guide Tak through his adventure. This turns out to be the player. Jibolba marvels at the "power stick" the player holds, and the "mystic box" the player watches him on, noting that it is clearly "the most important thing in your hut."
  • Bring It: In the Final Boss fight with Tlaloc in the first game, Tak tells him "Bring it on grandpa".
  • Bubblegloop Swamp: Gloomleaf Swamp in the second game and Ghastfall and Fowler's Murk in the third game.
  • Bumbling Henchmen Duo: Pins and Needles are Tlaloc's henchmen and are too incompetent to be an efficient threat towards Tak.
  • Butt-Monkey: Tak, Lok and basically everyone else at one point or another have very unfortunate luck.
  • The Chew Toy: Lok tends to get screwed over pretty much all the time.
  • Cartoon Creature: The main enemies of the first game are Nerbils, strange crosses between mammals and reptiles that are very predatory.
  • The Chosen One: Jibolba is convinced that Lok as the Mighty Warrior of the Pupanunu People's Prophecy at the start of the first game. As it turns out, he's wrong and Tak is the true Mighty Warrior.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Pretty much everyone who isn't Tak is pretty weird, and even he has his moments.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Lok may be a self-absorbed idiot, but he actually can back up his talk when he decides to fight, proving to be both stronger and a better warrior than Tak. He was thought to be the chosen one after all.
  • Death Mountain: Mountain Top and Mountain Top North from the first game.
  • The Ditz: Lok is pretty dumb.
  • Dumb Muscle: Lok who is none too bright, but also incredibly strong.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Tak made several appearances throughout the game, Rocket Power: Beach Bandits, including an in-game poster advertising his own game that would release nearly a year later.
  • Enemy Mine: In one of the sequel games, Tlaloc grants Tak some new magical power. For all of their bad blood, even he's well aware of the dangers of the Black Mist Tribe winning.
  • Exact Words: The Moon Juju states a mighty warrior will save her and stop Tlaloc, but it turns out Tak is the mighty warrior she was expecting. She adds the prophecy never said anything about Lok being the warrior.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Lok is assumed to be the hero destined to stand up to Tlaloc, but it turns out that Tak is the real chosen one.
  • Fat and Skinny: Pins and Needles are respectively obese and thin.
  • Fetch Quest: The entire first game is a long string of fetch quests Tak must go on in order to make sure Lok is brought back to fighting shape.
  • Forced Transformation: Tlalok's sheep curse that effects the majority of the Pupanunu people. He turns Tak into several different animals in quick succession during the first game's final boss fight, turns Flora into an orangutan at the end of said final boss fight and is turned into a sheep himself after his defeat.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In Jibolba's flashback of Lok getting smooshed to death, he states he tried to stop the herd of sheep but he couldn't; throughout the game, Tak can carry the sheep at will. This hints that Tak is the true mighty warrior as stated in the prophecy.
    • Also in the first game, the mummified guardian of the ancestral staff says that only the mighty warrior can have the staff, and that if Tak wants it, he'll have to take it. Tak succeeds.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: The first game has a pretty nasty bug in the Mummy Tomb stage where your mummy can end up permanently lost and never respawn, not even if you exit and re-enter the stage. Since finishing the level is mandatory for beating the game, saving the game after that happens permanently locks that file out of ever being able to finish the game.
  • Green Hill Zone: Tak's Village, which serves as the Hub Level for the first game.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Tak beats Tlaloc in the first game by having a polymorphed Flora fling Tlaloc into his own giant Bad Juju cauldron, turning him into a sheep.
  • Invincible Minor Minion: The human guards on Chicken Island in the first game cannot be killed. Even hitting them with an exploding egg only covers them in Ash Face and stuns them for a short while.
  • It Was with You All Along
  • Jungle Japes: Most of the levels in the series naturally, but especially Upper and Lower Tree Village from the first game, which also cross over into The Lost Woods.
  • Life Meter: Exhibited by changing colors in the feather on Tak's head. The more purple it becomes, the less hits he can take.
  • The Lost Woods: Greenheart Forest from the second game and the Deepwood and Ambush Grove from the third game.
  • MacGuffin: Yorbels, Nubu blossoms, The Staff of Dreams itself...
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: Tak has appeared in two titles of THQ's Nicktoons Unite! crossover game series, as well as Nicktoons Basketball.
  • Mook: The first game has the Nerbils, the second game would go on to have Woodies (who would go on to be a series staple) and the Nightmare Creatures for the respective worlds. The Third added Rockers (essentially rock-based woodies), and the Guardians of Gross tie in would add the Guardian's lackeys. Interestingly, neither the Nerbils nor the Woodies from the first two games are controlled by Tlaloc.
  • Ninja Butterfly: Juju Flora. Flea!Jibolba in the real world in the second game. In the dream world, it's the Dream Juju. AKA Tlaloc.
  • Not on the List: When Tak needs to get past a gate, the Juju spirit guarding it won't let him through unless he's on their list, and takes an annoyingly long time to check. Luckily, Tak is on the list.
  • Not Quite Flight: While on Chicken Island in the first game, Tak gets to wear a chicken suit that allows him to glide (very slowly) and lay explosive eggs. It makes a return in the third game.
  • Only Sane Man: Tak is the most level-headed of the Pupununu tribe.
  • Palmtree Panic: Chicken Island and Chicken Island West from the first game and Kiro Biro from the third game.
  • Potty Emergency: A side effect of being brought Back from the Dead called "Resurrection's Revenge" is that the one brought back to life will have a severe case of diarrhea. It lasts for a good long while too.
  • Resurrection Sickness: Whenever someone gets resurrected, they undergo a sickness known as "Resurrection's Revenge", which results in drawn-out vocabulary, laziness, and urges for the bathroom.
  • Ruins for Ruins' Sake: The Sun Temple and Chicken Temple from the first game.
  • Save the Princess: The second game appears to be a basic Save the Princess plot, with the dream world thrown in for flavor. Turns out there is no princess, just Pins and Needles on top of each other, and the "Horrible Beast" Tak takes out is the Dream Guardian. Oops.
  • Shifting Sand Land: Numa Dunes, which reappears as a bonus minigame in The Staff of Dreams, as well as Dryrock Canyon.
  • Shout-Out: The mummy warrior king has a similar speech pattern to Karl in Sling Blade. He even does the trademark "Mhm".
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Powder Canyon, which reappears as a bonus minigame in The Staff of Dreams.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Lok is killed instantly whenever he enters water in The Great Juju Challenge, not because he can't swim, but because he attracts angry fish. (If the water is full of gators, Tak's no better off.)
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: The Lobster Suit in the third game lets Lok walk around underwater indefinitely.
  • Tree Buchet: Used in the game by orangutans. You have to stand on the palm tree leaves when the orangutan pulls it down in order to catapult to another part of the area.
  • 20 Bear Asses: Those blasted Yorbels... and you need a lot of them. 100 to be exact. However, the total number of Yorbels in the entire game is 200.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: Powder Canyon and Numa Dunes change the game from a platformer to Tony Hawk-style extreme sports. Similarly, the boss fights against Pins and Needles later in the game take the form of fighting on ostriches or a DanceDanceRevolution-style dance-off.
  • The Unintelligible: Needles can only speak in incoherent mumbles because of his stitched mouth. Only Pins can understand him.