Sunday, October 3, 2010

Go Go Ackman (1994)

     Like the other boys in my 7th grade, I followed the trend of obsessively watching Dragon Ball Z, and in turn worshiping Akira Toriyama, and every piece of manga and video game artwork he produced. During one of our Toriyama-researching binges, a friend of mine had found a Super Famicom game that had somehow gone under the radar: Go Go Ackman. Best described as an action platformer, it held our interest for about half an hour before we moved on to looking up Dragon Ball Z hentai involving Android 18 and Dr. Gero. A grave decision on my part, as we spent more time looking at that than playing this surprisingly well-made platformer. I know now that it was time wasted indeed.
     I recently re-obtained the game, and it's incredibly good! The game never saw a release Stateside, so the dialogue is completely in Japanese. However, there's a surprising amount of English in the menus; more than enough to get one's grips of how to play. From what I can vaguely understand given the language barrier, you're Ackman. There's a cherub that for whatever reason is your nemesis, and you have to make your way past his minions to arrive at the inevitable showdown between the two of you.
     I'm a sucker for 2D platformers, and this one takes the tried-and-true formula and ups it a few dozen pegs past my expectations. Ackman traverses through about 9 different stages to get to each end-of-stage boss battle, defeating cherubs, monsters, and humans along the way. At first glance it comes off as a standard, run of the mill licensed platformer that the Super Famicom/SNES was quite partial to in the early '90s. Not so! In hidden nooks, Ackman can obtain power-ups to easily ward of any challenge to come his way. These range from bombs, swords, boomerangs, and in one level, a jetpack. As if that weren't enough, the second level is completely vehicular and solidified my adoration for this game; Ackman, behind the wheel of a sports car, weaving his way past landmines, and around cherubs on hover bikes is the red ribbon of the creativity in this game. These additions add a really nice hook to the game that makes it stand out from other platformers, aside from the tight controls and it's beautiful visuals, in vibrant 16-bit glory. Speaking of which...
     The visuals! The details shine throughout the game, so much so that there's no question that Toriyama did the artwork for this game. The backgrounds are multi-layered, with clouds moving at different rates and close scenery passing from view faster than images farther away. It provides a nice touch of depth to each world, and it's appreciated. The sprites are larger than the Super Nintendo norm, providing near-perfect recreations of the characters in the manga this game is allegedly based upon. Each character, namely Ackman himself, has many different individual frames for each motion as well. Everything is really detailed and a treat to view.
    Of the two qualms I have with Go Go Ackman, the one that bothers me the most is how bland the music is. It isn't bad or irritating, really, but I honestly can't remember one memorable track from the game. It's a shame because the soundtrack for a video game is always the one thing that really stands out in a video game for me. I understand that's just personal preference, and it may not matter to most, but in this case it's a problem. The other qualm, if you can call it that, is the lack of a save feature. I tend to look past this, though, because the difficulty isn't ridiculous, and the game itself is fairly short for a platformer.
     I beat Go Go Ackman in about an hour and a half, but that actually didn't bother me! Compared to the sprawling RPG's and FPS's of the current generation, Go Go Ackman was a nice change of pace and equally fulfilling in enjoyment through playing and the impression it left on my afterward. It's a really fun, good-looking game, and it's worth a look if you're looking for something freshly retro...if that makes sense.


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