If you're as fond of old-school arcade games as I am then I found quite a delightful indie for you to enjoy. Here's the very fun Tamiku!
I was browsing recently released games earlier in the week and stumbled upon Tamiku which caught my attention because it looked like a long-lost arcade game from the '80s. Many indies that attempt to recapture the magic from that era unfortunately don't quite succeed so I'm happy to say that Tamiku does an excellent job of feeling like an arcade gem. You play as an alien who I assume is named Tamiku and it's your job to travel the universe and pop balloons because popping balloons is awesome and you already popped all the balloons on your home planet. Who said video games can't be art? In my opinion, something this silly is the most wonderful kind of art. Anyway, the resulting campaign has you try and pop all of the balloons across 8 stages while dastardly foes try to trip you up. Fun stuff indeed.
Tamiku is a simple single-screen 2D platformer where you hop up and down rows. Some of the rows allow you to wrap around the screen while others have walls so planning your route is a big part of the challenge. The goal is to pop every balloon and popping blue ones is simply accomplished by running by them while red ones must be held for a short while before they burst. As you run and hop around, enemies and hazards can hurt you and each stage contains its own unique collection of foes such as snowballs that roll down at any given opportunity, flames that ascend in wave patterns, and pesky adversaries that launch projectiles right at you. Due to all the commotion, the primary key to success is to observe your surroundings as you carefully work your way towards the unpopped balloons.
Beating stages as efficiently as possible will grant you a higher score and every few stages, you'll have the opportunity to increase your score even more via bonus rounds that play like a stripped-down version of Nintendo's arcade hit Balloon Fight. I kind of wish that these bonus rounds were more unique but it is cool to see a nod to an arcade classic. Although trying to beat your high scores is rewarding stuff, especially once you get a knack for the fun-filled and impressively exciting gameplay, it's disappointing that there are no online leaderboards to show off your best efforts. Also, there is no multiplayer component whatsoever which would have been great as I imagine playing cooperatively with a chum would have made the goofy arcade fun even more enjoyable.
Finally, Tamiku looks and sounds like an '80s arcade game which must be difficult to do seeing as few retro-inspired indies get it right. For starters, I love the stage themes which come with their own distinct backgrounds and enemies. I also love how well-animated it all is and watching Tamiku cheer when he succeeds and cry as he fails put a smile on my face. On top of all this, there's a delightful soundtrack that's full of bubbly chiptunes that I thoroughly enjoyed. It all comes together to form one charming indie treasure.
Those who have been playing video games for as long as I have will adore what Tamiku has to offer. From its charming visuals to its brilliant arcade-style gameplay, I highly recommend it to any old-school arcade game enthusiast.
- + Tight gameplay that rewards fast-thinking, careful planning, and bold decisions
- + Spot-on '80s arcade graphics and sound
- + Decent amount of enemy and stage variety
- - Very short and mainly fun for simply trying to beat your own high scores
- - No multiplayer or online rankings
- - Bonus rounds could have been more unique