Remember Akira on the first Game Boy? Of course, you don’t. The game version of the epic anime never came out. It was developed for a while, though. Players were to alternate between Kaneda and Tetsuo, and the gameplay was to shift from platforming to obstacle races and Contra-esque shooting. One level would have Kaneda racing on his bike through rival gangs on Neo Tokyo’s dilapidated highways, another would follow Tetsuo’s flight from the ESPers’ teddy bear kingdom, and the finale would see the two squaring off in a boss battle–high-powered laser rifle versus bio-mechanoid baby head.
Video game advocate Patrick Scott Patterson uncovered a handful of builds of this never-released cartridge and managed to test them out on a trusty Super Game Boy. What did he find? Well, there’s a reason this iteration of Akira never hit shelves. Much has been said about how far ahead of its time the anime was, and this might actually be better of proof of that than the timelessness of the film’s animation. Video game tech of the era clearly wasn’t ready to capture Katsuhiro Otomo’s outre vision yet.
While none of these builds are complete, it’s tough to picture the complete versions ever being that worthwhile. Anybody who’s played other “lost gems” like Primal Rage II or Midway’s Judge Dredd beat ’em up can see the pattern this fits into. When a game doesn’t get released, it’s generally because it isn’t very good. And that probably goes double for attempted adaptations of big brands.
Still, Patterson has resolved to cherry pick the best parts of these builds and see if he can cobble together a good and finished game. Again, there’d be some irony in that. An individual can pull off what you’d need a crew of game designers for in the early 90s, while few studios today would dare try to replicate the meticulous full-animation of the Akira movie. Nevertheless, you can still watch Patterson’s playthrough below and see what could have been–and may still yet to be. One can only hope that his version will replace the awful temp music with some midi versions of Akira‘s percussive soundtrack.
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Featured Image Credit: Patrick Scott Patterson