Tak is a shaman's apprentice who needs to recover a quintet of swiped moonstones in THQ's latest title, thereby restoring peace to his world of shamanic weirdness.
Yep, it's another platformer, but don't push out your bottom lip in right browned off fashion just yet; with a partnership with Nickelodeon that promises a bunch of TV shows, and a title that's been inspired in equal measures by both Bugs Bunny and Mario 64, Tak's gotta be worth a look...
We caught up with the President of Avalanche Software John Blackburn, who very graciously waxed lyrical on the title...
Can you give us some background on Tak, where we might know him from and the actual background to the game?
Blackburn: The idea came from Looney Tunes. I don't know if you watched that much when you were a kid, but there was an episode with a little Witch Doctor guy who was trying to eat Bugs Bunny, and I dreamed about him.
At the time I was working on Mortal Kombat: Subzero, and at that point the idea to me was to have this guy who mixes up all these potions; that didn't make it into the final game. It was much more voodoo-based, almost like Voodoo Vince when the idea first started coming together.
So we just kept the idea kicking around, voodoo magic always seemed kind of cool. For about two years we sat on it, just talking about it at lunchtime, you know?
So then when we started up our own company we obviously had the freedom to try something, we had the artists put together some sketches, and it was one of the concept guys who drew this little cartoon strip; and he drew the Witch Doctor design that looked pretty close to what Tak looks like now. We were like, that's the one.
So how did the character develop from there?
Blackburn: We kept on refining that character with more sketches, and then the TV company Nickelodeon came in; we went through a series of animation tests that they put the characters through to make sure that they work as they should. That was the last stage of change in Tak's character.
We had the idea sitting around for so long, I think that was the biggest strengths when we went to Nickelodeon to pitch the idea to them. Originally there were 30 games companies up for the game/show crossover, and we got narrowed down, I think in part, because we knew the character so well.
But the real core idea was to make a funny game. We started doing this before Conker's Bad Fur Day came out, and you know up until then so many videogames are always like this bad-ass, very serious kind of thing, and we were starting to see games as an more of an entertainment medium, we wanted to add some humour into it.
At that point our artists were able to do things with facial animation and stuff that you really weren't seeing in a lot of the other N64 and PlayStation games. And so for us that was really important, we felt like we had the technological advantage at that point to do that.
So that was the motivation, to bring something funny to entertain as opposed to something that was always like a serious thing. So that was what the Looney Tunes thing meant to me; little kids like it but adults like it too, it works on different levels.
There was also something at the time - not really a moral backlash, but just the fact we'd been doing the Mortal Kombat games for four years, and so we were thinking we want to make games that our kids can play. So we designed puzzles that adults can play.
I guess one of our design philosophies was to try to get a real satisfaction and sense of accomplishment when you figure something out, so you feel smart when you figure out how a puzzle works.