Released for the Famicom on Christmas Eve 1988, five months after the Japanese release of the groundbreaking movie on which it’s based, Akira has garnered a distinct reputation in the ensuing years. That reputation, which suits no other game quite as well, is that it’s a really awesome game that you can’t play.
I suppose you could play it if you knew Japanese, but I, like so many Famicom fanatics, cannot read a word. Thus Akira, which is advertised as a “Psychic Adventure Game” on the cover art, remains a complete and total mystery… a tease, really.
There is a translation patch of the game available… but don’t get your hopes up. The patch only translates the intro of the game and nothing else. Every couple of months I get my hopes up and do a google search only to find out that there is no patch recently released, or even in the works.
Akira was developed and published by Taito, and aside from having a really cool game intro, it also has really cool packaging. Akira was released in a plastic clam-shell case. Namco(t) also released many of their Famicom titles in plastic clam-shell cases (notably Star Wars and Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti), but it Taito’s case is of a different design, and was a pretty novel idea all the same.
The game follows the same story as the film (and not the manga) and begins just after the street fight with the Clown gang when Tetsuo sees the Esper and crashes. From there I am pretty lost, because you confronted with a text driven point-and-click interface that is completely in Japanese.
I am a huge fan of the movie and manga, and an even bigger fan of point-and-click adventure games, so the fact that I can’t play this is an extreme bummer. But hey, at least the intro movie is pretty awesome, right?