Akira logo

This month we have a game of a Japanese flavour. Is it sushi or just a piece of rotting haddock? Tina Hackett sniffs it out.


Film licences always raise a fair amount of cynicism - there have been so many disappointments in the past that it's hardly surprising. However, when news of this latest release reached the office our hopes were raised - this one at least sounded as if it would be something different.

Those in the know will have realised from the title that this is based on the Japanese cult animation, Akira. It is a futuristic story set in Neo-Tokyo after World War 3.
But is it going to be a new kind of film licence or follow in the footsteps of its unfortunate predecessors?



The intro is a rather dramatic tune and sets up the game well. Yet again, however, it's into the game and you really start to feel something is amiss. It's not that the music is bad but it really doesn't fit in wit the gameplay - it's far too relaxing and does nothing to raise adrenaline.

You can play with either sound effects or music though, which I have to say is a blessing. The sound effects are quite acceptable though> The motorbike on the first level is reasonable and there are some good collision sounds. The rest of the effects are quite impressive with a variety of explosions, gun blasts and the like.




To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. Because of the reputation of the film for its top quality animation, I was expecting something quite special. This falls far short of even half-way decent.

The game starts with a very impressive (if rather short) animation which works well, and then we're into the game. You immediately realise there is something very wrong because the main sprite is tiny and really could be absolutely anyone - even though you can play Kenada and Tetsuo, two central characters from the film.

Some of the nightmare scenes with the toys and rabbit creatures have been included, but the original horror has gone completely and it now seems quite laughable. The graphics have lost their distinctive Akira style and look very basic and dated. Some of the backdrops would look at home in any typical cliché platformer and the atmosphere from the film is lost.

To its credit though, before each section there is an excellent animation taken from the actual film. These build up the storyline as you go along and are a nice touch. It's just such a shame the in-game graphics don't match this as there was great potential in the licence.




The game has had quite a big build up and because it bore the name Akira, I was really expect a good title. All hopes were well and truly dashed I'm afraid. The graphics are poor and the gameplay doesn't work as well as it should.

Different aspects of the film have been incorporated to provide a varied playing style. The motorbikes give an obstacle course objective, the sewers test your piloting skills as you fly around shooting the enemies and avoiding the traps, and other parts were used for more of the usual platformer levels. This was a great concept but it just didn't come across.

The levels are designed to provide maximum frustration rather than just longevity, and it wasn't long before I was tearing my hair out. To those who persevere I'm sure some enjoyment could eventually be gleaned, but quite frankly I wasn't that way inclined. The in-game music made me feel drowsy, the poor graphics became tedious and I felt rather cheated by it all.

I wanted to like the game. It sounded new and original but unfortunately it wasn't. If you're a true Akira fan you'll enjoy the clips of film animation and the way the game incorporates the plot and the characters - but even then, you're still left with some very dated gameplay. This could have been a great licence which should have been exploited to the full. A shame.

Akira logo

It could have been packed with fabulous graphics and manga-style characters, instead Steve Bradley gives Akira one of our lowest scores ever.

Stop. Do NOT enter your local computer games store. Danger lurks. Manga cartoons are popular, computer games about Manga cartoons are likely to attract the unsuspecting, the gullible, the people who buy games before they've read the review. We know a lot of you were stung on Rise Of The Robots - we were helpless, the abomination was on sale before the magazine appeared.

Akira is on sale. It has been for weeks, cunningly timed to avoid as many magazine deadlines as possible. Probably. And by now, ICE have sold a few and recouped some 'development' cost. One of the games magazines was allegedly told not to review Akira unless they were going to score it 80 per cent or more. Cue belly laughs from the stalls. Eighty per cent? Or was it eight?

Akira is part platform game, part shoot-em-up, part motorcycle ride. Akira is a game which should have appeared on a budget label three years ago, and even then it would have been poor. Readers, this game has been in 'development' so long, one wonders exactly what the writers have been up to. And surely, in that time, someone must have happened by and suggested that, 'things weren't quite right'.

OK. So you start on a motorcycle. It's the Capsule Gang against the Clowns (right) and you dribble along streets avoiding fire, jumping craters and hitting cones. The bike is difficult to control, the graphics are poor, you throw the pad at the screen in dismay.

Bad people
On other levels you shoot teddy bears, ride a flying sledge, massacre a blob and battle a Scaramangian amount of baddies in a sewer. You really don't want to play this for more than five minutes. Offers to take up the joypad were spurned by colleagues hastily burying their heads in needlecraft mags.

The sprites have no character, the gameplay is shabby enough to warrant execution at the hands of bad people from the other side of the world, who first use torture techniques previously thought improbable. The graphics are faceless, the level design plain dull.

Akira is £30. If you've already bought it, one can only sympathise - and then suggest you should have learned by now not to dash out and buy games without reading AF reviews first. The shock of loading this up could kill the faint hearted.

Akira logo

Unter dem Begriff "Kult" wird gern zusammengefaßt, was zeitlos und nicht nach jedermanns Geschmack - so wie der hier zugrunde-liegende Comic. Und schon von daher hätte die japanophile SF-Saga wahrlich besseres verdient als diesen üblen Genremix!

Weil zumindest wir wissen, was wir den vielen Akira-Fans schuldig sind, haben wir dem Game trotzdem zwei Seiten spendiert - was bei nur 38 Prozent in der Gesamtbewertung einer Premiere gleichkommt. Doch gerade im Fall eines solchen Hoffnungsträgers scheint es angebracht, genau zu erläutern, warum er so enttäuscht.

Nun, im Ergebnis ist Akira jedenfalls sie unspielbarste Comic- bzw. Film-Umsetzung, die unserem Testteam in den letzten Monaten untergekommen ist. Wie Kenner der Materie wissen, ist die Handlung im Neo-Tokio des Jahres 2019 (also drei Jahrzehnte, nachdem die japanische Hauptstadt durch einen von der Regierung inszenierten Superbombenabwurf dem Erdboden gleichtgemacht wurde) herum>treiben und katastrophale Experimente an Psi-begabten Kindern durchgeführt werden.

Das Spiel beginnt, als der junge Tetsuo bei einem Verkehrsunfall vom Militär und den verantwortlichen Wissenschaftlern entführt wird: In der Rolle des Motorrad-Freaks Kaneda soll man seinen Kumpel befreien und das Geheimnis um dessen rätselhafte Kräfte entschlüsseln.

Klingt interessant? Klar, doch spielt sich die Chose nun mal todlangweilig. Zur abgedrehten Story sind dem Hersteller ICE nämlich leider bloß abgedroschene Plattform-Klischees eingefallen, durchmischt mit horizontal scrollenden Fahr- und Baller-Einlagen von einer Qualität, für die sich teilweise selbst ein 64er schämen würde.

Da rast Kaneda erst mal auf seinem Feuerstuhl durch rasant von rechts nach links ziehende Straßenruinen, weicht Pylonen und Abgründen aus, wirft anere Biker mit Handgranaten aus der Bahn und soll dabei alle herumliegenden Benzinkanister einsammeln - wird nur einer übersehen, findet die Fahrt ein abruptes Ende.

Doch lieber ein Ende mit Schrecken als die nachfolgenden Plattformen-Schrecken ohne Ende: Man muß unfair agierende Teddybären, Schildkröten und Soldaten überhüpfen oder mit einer schwächlichen Knarre erledigen, darf sich an faden Sammel-Extras (Lebensenergie, Schild, Zusatzleben, mickrige Extrawaffen etc.) vergreifen und mal Torschlüssel, mal Aufzüge benutzen.

Was fehlt, ist nicht bloß Spielwitz, sondern auch die fesselnde No-Future-Amosphäre des Comics bzw. Films - denn was bitte hat das fernöstliche Pendant zu "Bladerunner" in knuddelbunten Spielzeugfabriken oder blaßgrauen Abwasserkanälen zu suchen? Noch schlimmer wird's bei den Ballersequenzen, wo man an Bord eines bewaffneten Hoverschlittens mit dilettantischer Optik und dem vielleicht einfallslosesten Gameplay seit "Pong" konfrontiert wird.

Hier einen Vergleich mit dem Genreveteranen "R-Type" ziehen zu wollen, würde an Majestätsbeleidigung grenzen! Insgesamt sieben Levels lang herrschen so optische Not und spielerisches Elend, gepaart mit einem Klangteppich aus entweder offenbar zweistimmiger Begleitmusik oder einschläfernden Sound-FX sowie einer unexakten Stuerung.

Und daß eine Handbuch-Abfrage nervt, hat die Entwickler im übrigen nicht davon abgehalten, eine Festplatten-Installation zu verhindern. Dabei liegen die Disks im HD-tauglichen DOS-Format vor, und sogar das nötige Start-Icon wäre schon vorhanden!

Wer hier nach Lichtblicken sucht, wird sie also bestenfalls im weichen Scrolling und den paar netten Digi-Bildchen, welche die Story fortführen, entdecken. Am besten sucht ihr aber gar nicht erst, denn diesen Reinfall können selbst Hardcore-Fans der Vorlagen nicht gutheißen können.

Ehrlich gesagt, wagen wir noch nicht einmal zu hoffen, daß Akira in der kommenden CD-Version mehr zu bieten hat - da müßte ICE ja ein ganz neues Spiel programmieren... (rl)


Japan hat den größsten Comic-Markt der Welt; dort haben die sogenannten "Mangas" ihren Ursprung - meist 300 bis 400 Seiten starke SW-Bilderbücher mit oft futuristischer, stets aber mit Sex und Gewalt gewürzter Handlung. Aufgrund der komplexen Umsetzung auf hiesige Verhältnisse schafft aber kaum ein solcher Strip den Sprung über den großen Teich: Da in Fernost von rechts nach links geschrieben und gelesen wird, muß die umständliche Übersetzung mit aufwendiger und teurer Ummontage der Bilder einhergehen.

Im Fall von Akira war zudem eine Nachkolorierung erforderlih, doch der Erfolg heiligte die Mittel: Der 1982 von Katsuhiro Otomo ins Leben gerufene und mittlerweile als Buch-Serie erscheinende Kult-Comic hat sich weltweit millionenfach verkauft (allein in Deutschland rund 200.000 mal); der aktuelle Band trägt die Nummer 18, mit dem Finale ist in einigen Monaten zu rechnen.

1988 wurde Akira für sieben Millionen Dollar verfilmt - die bis dato teuerste japanische Zeichentrick-Produktion ist in jeder Videothek zu haben.

Akira logo

No light, but rather darkness visible, serv'd only to discover sights of woe.

Having suspiciously peeled the labels of your Akira disks to find they've been recycled from unsold copies of Total Carnage, you'll discover that the game opens with a horizontally-scrolling motorbike level.

You ride along from left to right avoiding obstacles and leaping over gaps in the road. The manual suggests you "Hit the cones for points and bonuses." Except they're not merely "bonuses" at all, as you'll discover when you can't get past because you didn't ick up any so-called "bonus" grenades earlier on, because you couldn't possibly have anticipated needing them, and you've no idea what sort of "bonus" the cones are going to give you until you've hit them, so you're got to hit them all if you're to stand a chance.

Similarly, you must be sure to pick up every single "bonus" fuel can, otherwise you'll run out of fuel. "Bonus" speed-up arrows are another matter, however.

Sometimes you'll drive past one only to find a gap scrolling onto the screen that you're now not going fast enough to jump over. So you'll hit the next one to be on the safe side, and discover that it propels you into a dead-end where you die and have to go back to the beginning.

I think you'd do the same

Level one of Akira is a memory test, then, and so insultingly tedious that there's no way I'm prepared to play it long enough to memorise my way through to the end and see what the following levels are like. (They're platform shoot-'em-ups to judge from the picture on the back of the box.)

Were you to fork out the extraordinary £30 being asked for the game, I think you'd do the same, and feel thoroughly ripped off. And I can say this with even greater authority than usual because, even after we'd asked them politely several times, ICE failed to send us a review copy of Akira, and I was compelled to buy the game myself from WHI Smith's.

16%, then...

Oh, all right. Given that I was already £30 down, and the importance of complete dissemination, I thought I'd better make the effort and find out what the rest of Akira is like. So I obtained a set of passwords from a suddenly-more-obliging ICE. Bear in mind, though, that unless you either do the same or have the patience o a gibbon, level one is all you'll ever see. THIS IS PROBABLY JUST AS WELL.

Persevering with the scrolling motorbike leads, as it turns out, to... another scrolling motorbike section. This is much the same, except you're chased by police cars who kill you if they catch up with you. And they always will catch up with you because they can go faster than you. Unless, that is, you collect EVERY SINGLE ONE of the "bonus" go-faster power-ups. Sigh.

Publishers: ICE

But then... having typed in the next password, suddenly I longed to be back o that motorbike. For what come next are indeed platform shoot-'em-up levels, but of such lamentable quality that I, along with the rest of AMIGA POWER, weren't sure whether to laugh or cry. In the end they laughed while I, £30 lighter, elected to cry.

The budget doesn't appear to have stretched to a 'standing still' frame of animation for the little bloke you control, so instead one of the 'running' (or actually 'mincing') ones is used, thus giving him a permanent list to one side.

Then, when you tell him to jump, he floats about in the air imprecisely, without even a suggestion of inertia. Running jumps, essential to clear certain obstacles, are achieved by first pressing down-and-right to run, and then somehow switching to up-and-right at the appropriate moment to jump. It inevitably ends in disaster.

Your opponents are titcy little sprites which take loads of shots to kill, the game having presumably started out too easy. Either that or they skulk around on the floor where you can't shoot them because your gun will only fire horizontally.

Once the platform levels are out of the way (through) judicious use of the Escape key and some more passwords), you're into the scrolling shoot-'em-up levels. These are perhaps the only bits of Akira which work even slightly, but you'll soon tire of having to pump four or five blasts from your twin laser cannon into the casually-dressed baddies before they'll stop throwing grenades.
And lastly there's the final show-down with Tetsuo.

At no point does Akira even begin to approach the quality of the original film (generally agreed by AP to be pretty good, if unnecessarily hard to understand). The graphics aren't even remotely stylish or Japanese-looking, with feeble animation and messy colours. The presentation, involving digitised still from the film, is fairly slick, but serves only to make the actual game look even more terrible.

And it's incredibly difficult. Being difficult isn't a bad thing in itself, of course, as long as it's done properly. But Akira is more unfair than difficult, with its loads-of-shots-to-kill baddies and unanticipatable dead ends. And it doesn't earn your respect in a way that makes you want to persevere with it, like a proper difficult game should.

Which is why you won't ever get past level one.


Hmm. Our path appears to be blocked by an oversized jack-in-the-box. Should we (a) attempt to climb over it, almost certainly getting killed by the deadly tears fallin from the clown's eyes, or (b) simply walk around it?

Oddly, (a) we climb over it. This is because, although the floor is drawn in three dimensions, you can only move in two. Or there's always option (c) - hurling your copy of Akira into the path of a fast-moving vehicle.

Akira logo

Price: £29.99 Publisher: ICE 0453 756 993

When Manga originally released the Akira film, it was received with critical acclaim for its stunning animation, and equally amazing plot. Now with hundreds of Manga films available, the announcement of an Amiga Akira game came as no surprise.

The game follows the plot of the film, in which a gang of teenage bikers stumble across a small boy on the run from the government. The little lad, known only as Number 26, is in fact a mutant, and has amazing super-human powers.

If I said Akira on the Amiga was disappointing it would be a massive understatement. It really is terrible. I found the controls were slow and clumsy, and the character animation very wooden.

I also found fault with the gameplay - it was limited at the best of times. The early levels have you riding around on a motorbike, bumping into traffic cones which boost your speed. Hello! Mr Programmer, I don't want to ruin the illusion for you, but if you were to ride your motorbike into a traffic cone at 100mph, rather than speeding up, I think you'd be more likely to perform a triple front somersault with a half twist. The music and sound effects also failed to impress me.

In case you hadn't guessed by now, Akira is a big disappointment. It was always going to be hard to produce a game anywhere near as good as the film, but there's no excuse for releasing something which in my opinion is awful. Just when movie tie-ins were getting really good.

Düsternis über Neo-Tokio

Akira logo CD32

Was schon von der Floppy geflopt ist, wird auf CD seltem zum Hit, stimmt's? Diese gnadenlos unspielbare Comic- bzw. Film-Versoftung bestätigt die alte Binsenweisheit nun leider ein weiteres mal.

Wer den Test zur Standard-Fassung im letzten Heft gelesen hat, weiß, daß wir auf den Umbau des unsäglichen Gameplays anläßlich der CD-Konvertierung ohnehin nicht zu hoffen wagten - aber zumindest ein bei diesem Thema doch eigentlich unvermeidbares Movie-Intro oder wenigstens die originale Musik von CD wäre doch nicht zuviel verlangt gewesen, oder? Anscheinend doch...

Bei ICE hielt man jedenfalls unbeirrbar am bereits Bekannten fest, es sollten wohl nur die Akira-Fans mit CD32 ebenfalls geschröpft werden. Und so darf man sich erneut auf öde Motorradjagden samt Benzinkanister-Sammeln und Granaten-Werfen, einfallslose und mit unfairen Stellen reich gesegnete Plattform-Hopsereien oder eine lachhafte Ballerszene, wo mittels eines horizontal fliegenden Hovercrafts angreifende Jetpack-Akrobaten vom Himmel geholt werden, "freuen".

Und wenn man bedenkt, was alles aus dem kultigen Stoff des japanischen Comic-Zeichners Katsuhiro Otomo zu machen gewesen wäre, kommen einem glatt die Tränen:

Das an "Bladerunner" erinnernde Szenario präsentiert das Neo-Toko des Jahres 2019, wo sich Kids brutale Kämpfe mit der Militärpolizei und Wissenschaftlern liefern, welche ihrerseits katastrophale Experimente an PSI-begabten Kindern durchführen.

Bei einem Verkehrsunfall wird da Tetsuo, das Mitglied einer Motorradgang, entführt und der Spieler als Rettungskommando engagiert: Als Kaneda soll er den Kumpel befreien und das Geheimnis um dessen rätselhafte Kräfte entschlüsseln. Doch wer mag das schon, wenn die launige Story in ein bodenlos schlechtes Gameplay mündet, das streckenweise weit, weit unter PD-Niveau liegt?

Außer praktisch unwirksamen Zusatzwaffen hat Akira nämlich nur laue Sammelextras wie frische Lebensenergie zu bieten - wenn hier mittels Schlüssel ein Tor geöffnet wird oder sich ein 16 Pixel schmaler Plattfom-Aufzug in Bewegung setzt, dann hat man die innovativen Höhepunkte des Spiels bereits gesehen.

Zumal sich trotz der Levelcodes wohl kaum ein Fan der Dark-Future-Vorlage die komplette Jagd auf knuddelige Teddybären und Schildkröten antun wollen wird! Denn vom frustigen Gameplay einmal abgesehen: Was haben blaßgraue Abwasserkanäle und kunterbunte Spielzeugfabriken hier überhaupt verloren?

Und was haben die sieben Levels eigentlich auf einer CD verloren? Allein das softe Scrolling und die netten Zwischenbilder sind erwähnenswert, die dilettantisch gezeichnete Grafik stammt jedoch aus dem gleichen Software-Gruselkabinett wie die offenbar zweistimmige Begleitmusik, welche auf Wunsch anstatt der kaum besseren Sound-FX erschallt.

Also alles wie schon auf der Disk, so auch das Fazit: Hände weg von diesem Müll, egal ob man nun ein CD32 oder einen AGA-Amiga mit CD-ROM besitzt! (rl)