Ratalaika Games is a small but dedicated indie developer that specializes in charming arcade-style games. Tamiku is one of their latest games in their repertoire and is at the very least…unique.
Tamiku is an alien with a thing for popping balloons. His obsession led to him destroying his home planet, so now he’s off to travel the stars to pop everything he can get his hands on. After a brief cutscene depicting more or less how every level will go, Tamiku takes off in his space ship to get a-poppin’.
Each round is laid out in typical arcade-style multi-tiered levels, something that resembles Bubble Bobble and Donkey Kong. To pass each level, Tamiku must pop balloons, which he accomplishes by touching them if they’re blue, and mashing them between his hands if they are orange.
Unfortunately, the adorable alien is more or less defenseless. Like Pac-Man, one hit stops him in his tracks. Similarly, there are spaces in many levels where entering into the far left of the screen lets you pop out on the other side of the screen, just in case you’re running away from overzealous enemies. And boy, are there enemies.
From the start, I was reminded why I’m not huge on the arcade genre: difficulty. It took three game overs before I was able to conquer the first round, with enemies not only going from side to side but top to bottom. That, paired with random robot spawns and having to constantly jump or duck down a level to avoid death makes Tamiku as challenging as the Centipedes and Froggers of old. Granted, that sort of thing comes with the genre.
Levels vary in difficulty as you progress, with different enemies and strategies needed to conquer them. As nasty as the game’s difficulty can be, it looks better than any arcade game I can remember ever dropping a token into. The game is full of color, vibrancy, and originality.
There are a few different additions to the game that provides accessibility, including five languages, an optional CRT filter, and even optional borders that smack of the arcade cabinets of the ‘80s.
Review: Tamiku (Nintendo Switch)
Tamiku is a modern arcade-style game with a rather charming presentation but ultimately the gameplay may be a bit too simple for some, especially given that the difficulty curve may scare away anyone who’s never handled a joystick. If you’re looking for an inexpensive and challenging arcade experience, Tamiku may scratch your particular itch.