Akira, still one of the most definitive manga and anime ever made, never really got a game to do the source material justice. While that’s probably not going to change, Patrick Scott Patterson, retro game hunter-gatherer, managed to pick up four slightly different copies of the mid-development Akira title on the Game Boy. They are all experiment builds, so all that mid-test gaming nougat is housed in open-air cartridges — which makes me nervous.
The title is primarily broken into two (pretty broken) parts: Bike-based levels where you dodge static obstacles and an awkward-looking platform section where you punch and kick enemies that are, for some reason, much shorter than you. There’s also a bunch of jumping which will be familiar to anyone that played handheld games that were Hollywood movie tie-ins back in the 90s. You do, however, get to run around as protagonists Kaneda or Tetsuo — which is cool. There’s even a brief hovercraft shooter level and mutant bosses that Patterson was able to try through debug level options.
The ideas are all very Akira, but the game is severely unfinished. There’s a single cloying soundtrack and only a few sound effects repeated constantly. Level design is all delightful broken up too, but what are you expecting from a collection of decades-old mid-development cartridges? Patterson plans to pull together the workable parts of each cartridge, pulling them into some vaguely playable for fans that probably don’t even care how the game plays.