Takeshi’s Hustle – The Cruellest Videogame
Popular Japanese action film actor Takeshi Kitano, perhaps best known in mainstream UK for his riotous imported gameshow, Takeshi’s Castle, released four little-known videogames bearing his name in the late 1980s.
Reportedly Takeshi hated the idea of videogames so much that he wanted to create one so irritating and poorly-designed that it shocked its players into a realisation of the futility of their hobby.
One of the games, Takeshi no Chōsenjō (Takeshi’s Challenge) was released for the Nintendo Famicom in 1986. The title screen bears the text: “This game is made by a man who hates videogames.”
Over the course of the game players are presented with a succession of increasingly ludicrous, near-impossible and vague tasks. One of the earliest missions in the game is to sing karaoke for exactly one hour (utilising the second Famicom controller, that has a built-in microphone) in order to progress.
If you manage to do this successfully everybody else in the bar then attacks you without provocation.
It gets better. After this Takeshi dispenses with all metaphor and has you literally sit and do nothing in front of your TV for, wait for it, four hours before you can progress to the next level. No cheating though: to ensure you really are sat in front of your warming Famicom and not off sleeping to pass the time, the game requires you hold down the ‘select’ button for the full duration.
The next section switches to a sideways-on shoot ‘em up in the Gradius style. Here you must avoid the oncoming bullets but, to make things unpleasant, you don’t have an ‘up’ movement. Insread, you must carefully mange your limited number of downward dodges until you hit the bottom of the screen and can no longer move the craft.
If you make it through all of this, and few people ever do – the game is famous in Japan for being one of the hardest videogames of the 1980s – the game’s final boss takes 20, 000 hits before he is defeated.
If all this sounds a little implausible then have a look at the video below that shows a Japanese test subject being forced to play through each of these stages for television.
If you manage to complete the game a caricature of Kitano’s head says: “This game is pretty bad. What are you going to do?” which is basically how I’m going to finish all of my reviews from here on in.
Here’s an advertisement for the game that has turned up on Youtube:
Some people claim that this was Takeshi’s only game but that’s incorrect. Here’s a much more welcoming advertisement for another game he made to round things off – although the short gameplay segments shown look just as terrifying as those in Takeshi no Chōsenjō.
Any more information on these titles would be gratefully received – the Wikipedia entry could do with some smartening up for starters.