CGRundertow AKANE THE KUNOICHI for Xbox 360 Video Game Review
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CGRundertow AKANE THE KUNOICHI for Xbox 360 Video Game Review

The majority of NES launch titles were in the
$25 to $30 range back in 1986. 25 to 30. Keep in mind, That’s the equivalent of about
51 to 60 bucks these days. On the one hand, it’s nice to know that things have stayed
in about the same place throughout the history of gaming. On the other hand, it’s disconcerting
to realize that we’re getting Saints Row the Third and Arkham City for the same relative
cost that Pinball and 10-Yard Fight commanded back in the day. Go check those reviews. Take
a look at how far we’ve come. I’ll wait. Back with me? Good. Now, consider the subjugation
of this paradigm by the rise of direct-download services, offering independently-produced
games for a relative pittance. One dollar goes a lot further in today’s gaming world
than could’ve ever been expected. Part of it’s because resources are so plentiful.
Part of it is ease of design with more intuitive coding. Ever try writing straight Assembly
language? I rest my case. (I still get night tremors). So, conceivably, a couple folks
could scrabble together a few sprites’ worth of art assets, maybe one large, well-proportioned
anime-looking babe for special occasions, some basic platforming mechanics, royalty-free
music culled from the web, and publish it direct to the XBox Live Arcade Indie Channel
for a mere dollar a pop. It’d be a little more suspenseful if footage of exactly such
a circumstance weren’t playing behind my little diatribe here. Akane is a kunoichi – a female ninja – and
her crush-slash-master-slash-bald-guy Goro is just walkin’ in the garden one day…
when this evil chick Hiromi swoops down, knifes Akane, and absconds with the baldie. Fortunately,
it’s common practice for kunoichi to wear chainmail – regardless of what she may or
may not be wearing in those insert shots – so she picks herself up and hits the road to
rescue that hage, track down the kimono she lost (by means that completely escape me),
and exact a kunai for
a kunai. Akane can latch onto walls, triangle-jump
between two surfaces, and launch kunai with alarming speed. Not to mention the question
of where she keeps all of those. Further power-ups can increase her output to firing three and
five kunai at a time, while scroll power-ups allow the use of screen-clearing super attacks,
so shiny in fact that they call in that production art I was talking about earlier. There are
five stages of three acts each; in true Sonic the Hedgehog fashion, the last of each is
a boss fight against a really large thing. Each act also contains three collectable kimono,
which unlock a true ending if you assemble all 45. Perhaps it’s paradoxical that something
happens when you put a lot of clothes on… but hey, it’s a buck. Who am I to complain? Some might see just another chibi platformer
with low production value, blocky sprite art, and a scantily-clad woman to attract interest.
And frankly, they’re right. But here’s the crux of the matter: It’s fun, it’s
cute, it’s a dollar, and it’s a refreshing reminder of how the market is opening up to
smaller, independent projects like this. If the indie revolution continues to maintain
this level of bang-for-buck, the industry is in for interesting times. CAPITALISM, HO!


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