Experience all of the fun and frustration – mostly frustration – of the classic Nintendo game with some added features.
On 10 December, 1986 video game history was made with the release of Takeshi’s Challenge (Takeshi No Chosenjo, a.k.a Chosenjo From Beat Takeshi, a.k.a. The Ultimate Challenge from Beat Takeshi) for the Nintendo Famicom system in Japan. It was a game like no other and its creation was supervised by the multi-talented Takeshi Kintaro.
▼ In these TV spots the game director can be seen grating a daikon in a Cronenberg-esque digital wasteland
In Takeshi’s Challenge you play a yakuza-harrassed salaryman in pursuit of hidden treasure at the expense of his wife and job. Many elements that the Grand Theft Auto series is often lauded for, such as the ability to attack most characters in the game and a free-roaming city environment, could be found in this game decades earlier.
Among the unorthodox features was a password screen that included the option of “hitting the old guy” who sat next to it. Doing so would immediately trigger the game over screen… despite the fact that the game hadn’t even technically started.
Takeshi also wanted features that pushed the Famicom to its limits such as a karaoke challenge that utilized the rarely used built-in microphone on the second controller of early models. In fact, Takeshi put so many concepts into the game that the result was a rather confusing, buggy mess where sudden “game over” screens were a common occurrence and certain tasks were nearly impossible to accomplish. Whether that was intentional or not isn’t entirely clear, but I like to think it was a metaphor for life.
The following video shows how to pass the hang glider level. Although it looks like a standard side-scrolling shooting game, it is made more difficult by the fact the up button doesn’t work at all – which actually makes sense when you think about it. Moreover, you must land the glider on a tiny piece of land through several UFOs and birds.
Because of its relentless abuse of its players, Takeshi’s Challenge is often given the title of Ichiban Kusoge (“Number One Crappy Game”), and pretty soon we may all enjoy this game in all its crappy glory on Apple and Android devices!
That’s right, the game’s publisher is bringing it back to smartphones and tablets as part of their Taito Classics lineup along with Time Gal, Rayforce, Raystorm, and Raycrisis. At first, it wasn’t exactly clear that this was going to happen since the announcement was made on 1 April, and was bundled with an actual April Fools joke that a VR version of Takeshi’s Challenge was in the works.
▼ A screenshot from the fake game. We’re not sure if it
would just be worse, or far, far worse than the original.
But Time Gal has already been released and Takeshi’s Challenge is scheduled for “summer of this year,” so this appears to really be happening. Furthermore, Taito says it will come with added features such as new character costumes. Whether this will include technical updates such as a real karaoke mode (the original could only detect sound but not pitch) is unclear.
If you can’t be bothered to tackle this beautiful monstrosity of a game, here is an 18-minute speed run of it. Bear in mind, it’s so well done the game almost looks normal as a result… except for the five minutes of staring at a blank piece of paper.
It might be best if they don’t meddle with it too much. If Taito makes use of modern technology to make the game more like what Beat Takeshi originally envisioned, it may just turn out to be a mediocre experience by today’s standards. It’s probably best to keep the original’s wonderfully innovative crappiness intact as much as possible.