Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira is an absolutely seminal piece of work. Seriously there can be no denying this dystopian, sci-fi juggernaut's influence.
Check out this wonderful fan made trailer and see for yourself:
(H/t to Jonathon Propp for the trailer)
Not content with being one of the greatest stories committed to manga, the animated movie is a veritable cultural phenomenon and drastically aided Japanese animation's rise in the west.
So with this fact in mind, why has there never been a video game tie-in of note? One good reason could be due to the movie being so packed with fast paced action sequences, it could be near impossible to replicate the manga's most thrilling moments in a video game surrounding.
That doesn't mean that there weren't attempts.
In 1988, Taito released a "visual novel" styled take on Akira for the Famicom/NES.
Then in 1994, British devs ICE created the ill-fated Akira side-scroller for Amiga.
Then there was a pinball game called Akira Psycho Ball dedicated to this titan of anime.
But sadly, still to this day there exists no great video game homage to the anime that birthed 1000 imitators. But if THQ had gotten their way back in the heady days of 1994, we could have gotten our hands on one intensely awesome looking game if this recently uncovered video is anything to go by.
The video, unearthed by Unseen64, is one of the rarest views of a game that never came to be.
The 16-Bit Era Of Akira
THQ had plans to publish two versions of the Akira game seen above - one on SNES, Genesis/Mega Drive and Sega CD, and the other on Game Gear and Game Boy, but sadly development on the game eventually petered out.
In an interview with Hardcore Gaming 101, Jim Gregory, the man who oversaw the creation of the SNES port, discussed why the game eventually faltered before release:
“It was not so much cancelled or scrapped as it fell into neglect. Larry transferred rights to THQ and we couldn’t get clear agreement on the game elements with the project manager.
They didn’t understand the limitations of the SNES. The project was then victim to a number of disasters including the lead programmer leaving, and other work being more pressing.”
The ambitious project would have combined various styles of video games, like
- The opening level would've have pitted Kaneda against The Clown gang in a Road Rash-esque ride though Neo-Tokyo.
- An FPS stage where you guide Tetsuo as he attempts to escape the lab where he is being experimented on. There was no weapon on screen barring Tetsuo's hand which fires out destructive pulses of energy.
- A side-scrolling stage where Kaneda and Kei pilot a hoverbike through the sewers whilst gunning down guards. The mazes had multiple ways of navigating them.
- An isometric stage where you guide Tetsuo across a bridge whilst destroying enemies in your path.
- And a 1v1 brawler where Kaneda would have to take on a freshly mutated Tetsuo.
It's honestly quite sad that this game never came to light, the genre-bending game could have been an inspiration to the VG market as it was to movies and comics. Alas, it'll have to remain one of the greatest films ever made instead.
What do you think?
Should someone have another attempt at an Akira game?