In this series of articles I'll spotlight an older or rare game. Sometimes it will be worth playing. Other times the game will be cringe inducing. Would you like to know more?
This is one of those games that gamers play to say they've beaten it. Not that that means anything to anyone other than gamers themselves. Its on sega genesis and was one of the games I had back in the good old days. Chakan is one of the most unforgiving games I've ever played. The difficulty has no curve to it, its all over the place. Difficult jumps and enemies who do too much damage everywhere. I was drawn in by its inherent bad ass style. Everything in this game looks evil and dark. Even the hero looks evil. You play as Chaken an immortal skeleton guy with two swords who travels around killing monsters. You get four portals to pick from a hub area. After you die or beat a level, you return to the hub world. Each portal has four levels. After the first level of each portal, you get a new weapon, some of the second stages of one portal require a weapon from another. Weapons are: A grappling hook, a scythe, an axe, and a hammer. One other element that needs mentioned is the sound effects. You hear a hilarious growl when Chakan dies or when the game first boots up. The music itself is pretty wild too. Lots of drum beats and wild sounds. You should play it just to hear the sound effects.
The game is action/platforming. One cool features that separate it from other games is that have access to a large amount of colored potions which you can combine to do different things. Useful stuff like flaming swords or invisibility. One major problem with it is that it uses runes or moon language to tell you what each combination does. I've yet to decipher some of these. Take a look at what I'm talking about.
Another problem is, on the default (easy) and hard difficulty settings all the potions are scarce. Its hard to collect a decent amount of them for it to be helpful. On the practice difficulty setting you have unlimited potions, but that takes away the challenge. You can just run through with flaming swords, heal yourself when necessary. If I'm playing just for the heck of it, I'll go on practice and have the flaming swords murder everything. Its fun, but the real fun is in challenging yourself to play on the hard setting. Everything kills you and the game becomes like gauntlet of frustration with no real pay off. Other than saying to other gamers "I beat Chakan." Which, by the way readers, I've beat Chakan.
The story is the sort of stuff more games need: Chakan is the baddest dude ever. So cocky and powerful in fact, that he challenges and kills death (aka grim reaper) in a fight and is cursed to be immortal until all supernatural evil is destroyed. That paraphrases slow moving text message at the start of the game. I never had the box or manual for the game, but with some internet research I found out most of its history. Apparently Chakan was a comic book first, then a game was made by the same team that did Echo the Dolphin. A new game in the series was planned for the Dreamcast, but got canceled.
As far the art style goes, everything has this menacing evil look too it. Most levels have you spin jumping or hooking onto stuff flying around all over the place. Enemies generally push you off ledges or in fire pits, killing you instantly. For some masochistic reason, this is fun. At least some of the time its fun. Other times its eye gouged out with furious diarrhea painful. For example: the time limit can kill you. Why a game about an immortal has a time limit that kills you, I'll never know.
I somehow beat the game when I was younger. I was wrong of course. I had only beaten practice mode or perhaps easy. In and of itself, that was no easy feat.
I warn you, this game is more brutal, but there's this gritty charm to it. Its a genesis game that can't be too hard to find. My copy was bought second hand years ago and couldn't have cost more than five clams. Its hard to play and frustrating, but if you spend the time to get into it, the game can be a good afternoons worth of fun. Give it a chance.
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