Akira Was A Great Comic, An Amazing Movie, But Its Games, Hrm…

Akira Was A Great Comic, An Amazing Movie, But Its Games, Hrm…
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It’s one of the defining works of modern popular culture, and features plenty of stylised, graphic action. So why is it nobody has ever made a good game out of Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira?

It’s not for want of trying, that’s for sure.

There have been three (well, maybe five, but we’ll get to that later) games developed based on the property over the years, one in each of the past three decades. All are based on the more abbreviated version of the storyline (as well as the imagery) found in the 1988 anime adaptation of the classic manga series.

Aside from the three games that did surface, there were two versions of the game that, while publicly announced, never made it to a retail shelf. One of these was a console game to be released on the SNES, Genesis and Sega CD, while the other was a handheld title destined for the Game Boy and Game Gear. THQ was originally planning to publish both games.

While the handheld title was a simple arcade title split between bike and on-foot sections, the console game was incredibly ambitious, which may explain why it was never actually released. Akira on the Genesis and SNES was like a buffet, each level utilising a different genre to tell a different part of the film’s story. So the player would go from first-person exploration to side-scrolling shooting to isometric adventuring, each stage offering different challenges and a different way to play the game.

It’s certainly a unique approach that some other adaptations of the time tried (albeit to a lesser extent, like Jurassic Park’s blend of first-person shooting and third-person adventure), and one that may have been utilised to get around the fact the comic/film was actually a tricky property to turn into a game, given that it’s split so clearly into fast, action-packed sequences and long, slow periods of exposition.

Only the console game was ever playable (the Genesis version at a couple of trade shows in 1994), and despite both versions having been worked on in the West, playable builds have never been released to the public, even after all these years.

For more information on the unreleased games, you should check out this great Hardcore Gaming piece on them, which includes a ton of scans from the gaming magazines of the time.

(Top image by Tyler Stout | tstout.com)
Total Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends.


  • A proper Akira game would rock.

    I mean you could have:
    – rad bike chases against the clowns through neo tokyo
    – hovercraft flying around in the sewers
    – tetsuo psychic action through the facility, galerians style
    – keneda on bike with laser gun vs tetsuo
    – katamari style rolling level with giant squishy tetsuo

    and if it were based on the manga, even more things like:
    – kickang ass with chiyoko in post apocaliptic rubble
    – play as the colonel, with his hand held SOL device against baddies
    – the epic bike war at the end

    I’d play it.

  • I’d like to see a Fallout 3 style Akira game based on the manga.. even just a MOD.

    You could have Vehicles (Bikes, Hovercraft…etc), all the different factions (Clowns, Military…etc),the weapons (Laser Gun, SOL)Companions (Yamagato, Chiyoko, Kay)…..etc,etc

    I’ve thought about a good Akira game for years… I’d make it myself if I knew how.

  • If it was cell-shaded GTA style with euphoria physics, open world mechanics, and a turn to the apocalypse mid way through ala the manga then it’d rule.

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