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Your Weekly Kusoge

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Ikki (いっき) - Arcade, Famicom, Windows, PlayStation, Mobile (1985)

by Kurt Kalata - January 21, 2011

Famicom Cover

The game that caused the word "kusoge" to enter into the Japanese gaming lexicon, Ikki is about a farmer in feudal Japan staging a rebellion against his tyrannical lord. Unfortunately, it's a very poorly though-out rebellion, because only two people are taking part - the hero, Gonbe, and his pal, Tago, who only shows up in two player mode. It's an overhead action game, but rather than moving forward or simply killing everything, the goal is to pick up the coins strewn throughout each level, which encompasses a few screens in size. Unlike similar games like Ninja Princess, where you fired in whatever direction you were facing, or Robotron 2084, with the dual joysticks, your character auto aims in Ikki, tossing a sickle in the direction of the nearest enemy. It actually works pretty well.

But that's about the only remotely functional part of Ikki. The screen doesn't tend to scroll unless you get uncomfortably close to the edge of the screen, making it nearly impossible to see what's in front of you. It's not like it would matter, because bad guys will materalize out of thin air and attack with such speed that it's nearly impossible to dodge. Randomly you'll also be accosted by a horrifying man-woman thing which won't technically kill you, but will temporarily stop you in your tracks, rendering you vulnerable to other attacks. What is she doing, exactly? It is probably best to not ask.

Ikki (Arcade)

There are no visible boundaries on the playing field - you simply walk into an invisible wall, even though there's clearly terrain right beyond it. One of the power-ups, a bamboo pole, usually works to your disadvantage, because not only is it short ranged, but you can only attack upwards. And like most early games, it's incredibly brief, peaking out at a mere four stages before repeating infinitely until the cheap deaths and claustrophic scrolling drive you mad.

Incidentally, it's really only the Famicom version of Ikki that falls into "kusoge" status. The original arcade version, known as Farmer's Rebellion in English territories, is quite a bit better - the scrolling is still off, but your character moves faster, and enemy attacks aren't as sudden. There's also a map which indicates where all of the coins in the level are, and there are eight levels in total rather than four. It's not a spectacular game by any means, but at least it's playable. Anyone's guess why it's the terrible Famicom version that ends up in all of the compilations - probably because it's the one most Japanese gamers are familiar with, plus it'd be easier to emulate.

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Ikki (Famicom)

Ikki (Famicom)

Ikki (Famicom)


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