Friday, July 5, 2013

Ikachan (Video Game; Nintendo 3DS eShop) - Review

Ikachan feels like the video game equivalent of a decent little short story written for a high school Creative Writing class. It's noticeable that the creator took some short cuts to get this done. And it's over quickly. But even if it's certainly not great, there's a distinct joy to be gotten out of the experience. Ikachan is an okay game that makes up for some laziness with charm. 

This game casts you as a cute little squid named Ikachan. You maneuver him around with a combination of aiming his head with the circle pad and propelling him forward with the a or b button. It controls similarly to an underwater level in a 2D Mario game, save for aiming replacing more direct movement. The physics feel great and it's fun to maneuver Ikachan around. 

This game is at its best when you're avoiding enemies, collecting fish to level yourself up, and taking down the few bosses. The game gives you a small, open environment to explore, and this provides for some neat metroidvania-style gameplay, in which you gain new abilities or items that can be used in past areas. The game has gorgeous and adorable pixel art that looks even cooler when the 3D is flipped on. The sound effects and chiptunes combine with the visuals to create a really engrossing atmosphere.

Unfortunately, a lot of the progression depends on going back and forth, talking to NPC's. The story is cool but the diaogue is usually a bit dull and it gets frustrating when you have to arbitrarily initiate conversation with the characters until something happens. The most banal areas of the game, by the way, are where all of these characters are.

At the end of my playthrough, I felt more positive than negative about my journey. Since the game is only an hour long, it's hard to forgive boring, text-heavy segments that probably made up half of my play-time. But it's a pretty trip that tells a weird, charming, simple story, with a cool ending to boot. It's clear that the creator had fun making Ikachan, and I had fun playing it. It's okay. 


This game takes place in the universe of Cave Story, and is made by the same dude. It originated as freeware, but I played the Nintendo 3DS eShop version for review. It costs $5, which is a decent price.