Shortly after Akira's release in the west it became a huge cult hit. At this point in the early 90's a whole slew of console games were put into production based on Akira hoping to cash in on its popularity. Eventually all but one of these projects was cancelled and only one western Akira game was ever released...and this is it.
The infamous Amiga Akira...
Few people have played it but those who have can testify to the rumours that this game is truly awful! The gameplay is multi-genre as was the standard for English-made movie licenses at the time.
It's terrible quality isn't fully apparent from the start, the game opens with a nice animated section from the opening of the movie itself accompanied by the movie's musical score in CD quality audio. The first signs of danger come with the title menu. At the bottom of the menu is an option for "Sound effects or music", one or the other not both! But this isn't necessarily a sign of woe as maybe the game is so good that there just wasn't enough space in the Amiga's memory for all that great gameplay plus music and sound. Sadly this just isn't the case.
After the brief story screen- some short text and a static image from the movie (or very short animation loop on the CD32 version)- your fears are finally realised as you play the first level.
The programmers wisely chose the motorbike battle from early on in the movie as who didn't want to be part of that exciting, fast paced race when they first saw it? Unfortunately for some reason the programmers also decided to take out everything that made the sequence so memorable and exhilarating. The player controls Kaneda (whose name is constantly misspelled in different ways throughout the instructions book) and his iconic red power-bike in a slow and painful crawl across an endless, unfinished motorway.
What should have been an edge-of-the-seat, super fast series of levels with the player weaving around cars and killing rival gang members is in fact translated to a snail paced, trial and error, memory test. The number one priority is not letting your bike run out of fuel which means hitting every one of the fuel can power-ups that appear. If you miss one then you won't finish the level, simple as that.
Next you must leap large gaps in the road. This often involves having to hit a 'Speed-up' icon just before the ramp. Miss the speed-up and plummet to your death. The third and most irritating part are rocks that block the road. These appear without warning and require you to slow down as low as possible (for some reason you are unable to just simply stop or even back up) and then throw grenades at the blockage. Whether you succeed or not is more down to luck than precision aiming. Considering this should be a hair-raising race against time sections where you have to practically stop seem ridiculous.
These aren't the only things standing between you and the end of the road/level (your proximity to which is measured by the globe that was used to record Tetsuo's psychic aura in the movie), you get the typical and uninspired man-standing-in-road, cop-with-gun, hole-in-road and moving-flames obstacles too. I should finally point out that these levels stand out as the most fun this game has to offer!
If your patience gets you through the almost unending stream of identical 'street racing' stages that makes up level one then you are rewarded with level two, The Military Hospital. For those who are unaware of what is to come nothing can prepare them for the ridiculousness of the following stages. You are in control of Tetsuo who is trying to escape the Hospital but unfortunately his path across the Lego™ brick platforms and building block towers is blocked by killer teddy bears, bunny rabbits, floating match sticks and clowns heads that attack with exploding eye balls. To call this section of the movie misinterpreted is a huge understatement!
These hilariously ill interpreted levels are made all the more unplayable by the terrible controls and Tetsuo's insistence on throwing himself off of ledges if he lands on the very edge which is particularly infuriating. Following this is another unappealing and identical platforming section set in a toy castle. Additional human enemies are added as are yet more stupidly inappropriate toy-monsters.
The next stage is set in the sewers here interpreted to be swarming with gun toting soldiers, rats and dangerous gas clouds. You are controlling Kaneda this time but it's little different to the previous platforming tragedies.
Successfully getting through the sewers on foot brings you to the other vehicle section of the game- an inept shoot-em-up section with Kaneda and Kei onboard an army hover-jet. As with the opening bike section these stages take place at a snails pace but differ by adding far too many obstacles to your path. As well as the expected gun-toting soldiers you also have to contend with numerous roaming laser guns, dripping slime and still be expected to shoot your way through approaching walls- one brick at a time!
If you made it this far through the game (or more likely used the passwords just to see if this game could get any worse) you have come to the final level(s). Set inside what the game refers to as "The Akira Vortex" Kaneda must leap around yet more Lego™ brick platforms and other leftover sprites from previous levels, while blasting pink blobs with a bazooka. A fittingly ill interpreted climax to an awful, awful game!
Even if you were crazy enough to enjoy this game you'd be hard pushed to get through it as the difficulty level is sky high. It's almost as if the programmers were so ashamed of what they'd done that they didn't want you to see all of it! As for the music it's not bad and is a much better choice than the pathetic sound effects. The graphics are reasonable but pretty much the same as any other Amiga game of the time. The loading time for the disk version is quite long but still it's better than actually playing the game!
Akira was sold in a large cardboard box containing a "Collector's Edition T-Shirt".