Chakan (Genesis) review
"An excellent albeit dark game and one of my favorites on the Genesis"
Chakan is a game that brings back lots of fond memories for me as a kid, my close friends at the time had a Genesis with several of the better games at the time and Chakan was one of them. Iíll never forget those nights where I stayed over there playing greats like Toejam and Earl, Sonic 2 Altered Beast and Chakan. While finishing the game was out of our reach it never stopped up from enjoying its unique platforming and dark and moody atmosphere. Later on they ended up trading their Genesis to me and I still played Chakan wowing more friends with it. Eventually I sold it off since I never could get anywhere in it.
I always remembered my times with that game, I grew quite frustrated with its difficulty and never wanted to go back to it when I started collecting Genesis games. Finally after so many years, I knew it was time to buy another copy and brave this gameís treacherous waters and try to complete it. While I still canít say Iíve claimed victory over this sinister game, Iíve made it through more than 75% of the game and have had the chance to experience the later levels and see the game for what it is, a really well done game that more than does justice to the dark and grim comics itís based off of.
Well, here it is fellow gamers, I am going to attempt to truthfully review one of the Sega Genesisí more evilly difficult but memorable games that Iíve played.
Iím not going to go into the story line in this review but will say that it is quite well done for a series of dark and gothic comic books. If youíre curious about the back story then you can read up on it on the web and Wikipedia has a good write up on it too. You take the role of Chakan, a man who canít be killed and only feels the pain his battle wounds. Sega did a good job of implementing the story into the game, Chakan has infinite lives and restarts at the portal area when he runs out of energy, donít think that infinite lives will make this game easy for a moment because the game is composed of 24 long levels and gets torturously hard in the later stages.
I guess the first thing I can say about the game play is that Sega went to great lengths to make it as deep, involving, and as original as possible and they succeeded. Chakan can attack in 8 directions, he can roll across the ground which is far faster than walking, and he can double jump and do a spin slash in mid air which is also quite effective. Each stage of the first four worlds have an extra weapon that can be picked up and are required to progress in the game. The best part of the game may be in the alchemy, there are a total of four different colors of potions and you can hold four of each color and there are about a total of 15 spells that can be made in the menu. You get everything from elemental ranged attacks to healing to instant enemy kills, and many more. It adds some pretty deep game play and variety to an already great game.
Each world has an introduction from Chakan where he tells about the great evil he sets off to destroy then you enter the level. The first set of worlds are the terrestrial worlds, consisting of fire, sky, earth and water and each has three parts and a boss at the end. There is a lot of clever platforming to be done in the game especially in the fire world where you have to hang on hooks and swing and jump to higher ones through a stage, itís difficult to finish but itís quite well done in execution.
Graphically these worlds are all pretty beautiful to look at, with the help of the stellar soundtrack they all do an exceptional job of depicting a dark, morbid, and creepy atmosphere and it may be one of the gameís greatest strengths. Each world does a perfect job of standing out and not being remotely similar to the last. The music is incredible to say the least, each one makes great use of the sound chip and sounds like theyíre made for the Genesis. I still canít get the terrestrial sky music out of my head, the earth and fire worlds depict a great sense of creepiness and the water world gives a great sense of solitude and loneliness. The sound effects are also incredible, Chakan sounds exactly like he should for each movement and gives off a demonic moan when he gets hurt. The sound of an enemy dying is also very eerie and helps set the atmosphere and make it even creepier. Every other sound effect also sounds equally creepy and never disappoints.
Once you are able to finish the first four worlds you have to face four new worlds on the elemental plane. The best way to describe them is by saying that theyíre the next extreme of their previous. Fire becomes the lava world, you have to fly through the sky world on a creature, water becomes ice, and earth becomes mud. I really felt a sense of awesomeness when I finally made it to these worlds since itís no easy task to get that far.
Iíve been pointing out so much good but have no choice to point out some low points. To start, the music in the first four worlds is stellar but once you get to the elemental worlds the music isnít bad but itís nowhere near the caliber of the earlier stages. Second is the bosses, a majority of the bosses are painfully easy. They will all seem like they are impossible to defeat then youíll figure out a pitifully easy pattern and will never get hurt, unfortunately thatís the only way to defeat most of them. Later in the elemental stages, the bosses can take forever to kill and you have to worry about the time running out, the elemental water boss can take around eight minutes alone to kill.
My biggest complaint in the game may be with the overall difficulty of the game. The first four worlds are very manageable with some practice but later worlds are just endless trial and error, a majority of the stages become nothing but blind platform jumping and will result in uncountable deaths, thankfully you have unlimited lives. The elemental sky stage is the worst stage possible since you have to ride a flying demon and anything including hitting a ceiling will cause you to fall off and often times cause you to fall to the beginning of the stage. It was truly an act of my patience to get through those stages and on top of that it was the most annoying and my least favorite music in the whole game.
If you manage to finish all of the 8 worlds and sit through the faux credits then you can fight quite possibly the hardest last boss ever where one hit will kill you and you only have one chance to succeed.
Despite its flaws itís still an incredible game and there was nothing remotely like it on the Genesis at the time. It does an incredible job of bringing the dark and gruesome comics to life that itís based on as I said earlier. Itís overly hard an unfair at times and requires patience that not every gamer will be able to muster. Chakan is exceptionally long, racking up at roughly 3-4 hours from start to finish but thankfully thereís a way to skip the first four worlds from the beginning by obtaining a portal spell and using it on a small platform in the bottom right area of the portal plane so you can effectively continue at about the halfway point of the game, once I found that trick out it alleviated some of my animosity towards its length.
Chakan is a game that I have to be in the mood to play since itís so daunting but my memories of this as a kid are priceless so the game is one of my favorites on the Genesis but itís not a game I can just pick up and play whenever I feel like it and Iíd imagine most of you would feel the same but I strongly recommend checking it out at least for the music alone. I wanted to score this with an 8/10 but gave it a point less since itís so frustrating at times and not for everyone.
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