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Akane the Kunoichi (Xbox 360) artwork

Akane the Kunoichi (Xbox 360) review


"It all boils down to your ability to make use of very basic commands like jumping and attacking. Time your presses carefully and rule the day, but if you don't you can't blame unresponsive controls or faulty collision detection. If you think about it, it's so simple. Just hit two different buttons at the right times and you'll survive. It may be that simple, but it sure as hell isn't that easy."



Welcome back, 16-bit! We've missed you since putting away our copies of Super Mario World and Ristar--and yes, we forgive you for Skuljager. Haruneko has resurrected you for one more go-round, and brought all the proper noise to the party.

They took Shinobi's lead and plastered a rack on him, renamed his quest Akane the Kunoichi, and threw us a no-frills challenger of a platformer for the astounding price of $1. Packed inside are fifteen levels of intricate and windy paths with one simple objective: arrive at the end in once piece. The ambitious and masochistic can go the distance, sometimes crawling through tight passageways filled with lava and blood-thirsty warriors, in collecting kimonos for a special reward at the game's end.

Sure, Akane doesn't impress with a wide array of enemies. Rather, it makes great use of what little it has. Where other platformers stick you with an opulence of single-hit baddies to keep the pace from dropping, Akane utilizes multi-hit masters to stop you dead in your tracks with vile projectile. Somehow these four-hit nuisances don't kill the pace. Their placement accentuates the challenge and shifts Akane from a run-'n-hack title to a survival piece. Whilst running the gauntlet, you need to be aware at all times--of enemies, of their weaponry, of any sneak attacks, of traps and pits. You're always on your toes.

Akane will break your face in several places. Its challenge is exquisite, not providing much space to breath. At the same time, it adheres to our current knowledge regarding how to craft an effective platformer: make it fair. Tight controls deprive you of one more excuse and keep the challenge far from cheap. You will fairly fall from platforms and die, fairly have your jugular sliced open by throwing stars, and fairly watch as dogs chew you apart like so much cheap leather. Even riding a slowly rising platform up a narrow shaft whilst dodging bladed hats and stars isn't overly cheap.

It all boils down to your ability to make use of very basic commands like jumping and attacking. Time your presses carefully and rule the day, but if you don't you can't blame unresponsive controls or faulty collision detection. If you think about it, it's so simple. Just hit two different buttons at the right times and you'll survive. It may be that simple, but it sure as hell isn't that easy.

Thank you, Haruneko. You know us old platform junkies too well. Keep it simple, kick our faces in, but keep it fair. Akane the Kunoichi will impress fogies, fans of bygone gaming who love to feel like they're playing something from twenty years ago they had overlooked. It's a nice throwback and a fresh experience in one package.

Rating: 8/10

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (December 30, 2011)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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