The manga and anime masterpiece Akira hasn’t been given the best treatment when it comes to video games, but video game preservation advocate Patrick Scott Patterson has stumbled upon an unreleased Game Boy adaptation that aimed to replicate both the film’s high-speed motorcycle segments as well as its tone. After seeing it in action, however, perhaps it’s best that it went into hiding for so long.
This version of Akira contains seven separate levels, but as the game was not only unreleased, but also unfinished, only the first of these can actually be completed.
Akira opens with a terrific, very “Game Boy” cinematic, showing a massive explosion in “Neo-Tokyo” before jumping forward to the near-future of 2019 and protagonist Kaneda. This then leads directly into a motorcycle driving segment that appears very suddenly — perhaps more narration or exposition was planned before making this jump.
The motorcycle segment itself is a very, very rough take on what was offered in NES games like Battletoads, with Kaneda dodging obstacles and hitting ramps to avoid falling through holes in the road. The music, noted by Patterson as “placeholder,” sounds like it belongs in a Wii menu more than in a full-fledged video game.
The game’s second, third, fourth, and fifth stages take the form of more traditional beat-’em-up platformers, with “up” on the control pad making Kaneda punch and “down” making him kick. Enemies don’t react to these attacks until they’re actually defeated. The game’s sixth stage takes place in the sewer and plays out like a side-scrolling shooter, while the final stage is a boss level.
This final stage varies wildly depending on which build of the game you obtain, as Patterson noted in the video, and although the boss can be defeated, there is no ending for the game upon finishing it. Patterson plans on trying to combine the best segments of the four Akira builds he has acquired, but we’re not sure how much better the game will actually get as a result.
Akira is just one of the unreleased games Patterson revealed to the public recently. He also uncovered a prototype build of the NES game Heavy Weight Hockey, as well as the Genesis game Mall Rats. Both of those games look infinitely more fun to play.