NES Flashback: ACHIKOCH
Welcome, dear readers, to the first installment of NES FLASHBACK here at GotGame! The principle behind this series is simple: find forgotten or foreign NES games and see how time has treated them. Sometimes classics will be revisited, sometimes plots will be ignored, but the end goal will remain the same. So what better way to begin than by looking at a weirdo little Japan-only game? This is ACHIKOCH.
First off, ACHIKOCH (according to Google Translate) roughly means “here and there,” a fitting name for a game based around what could be either a walking snowman or ghost. It’s unclear. I mean, look at this title screen. What the hell are you?
Confusing things even more is the title itself – ACHIKOCH is what you’ll find online and in most ROM packs, but the title may actually be ACHIKOCHI (the literal Japanese for “here and there”). To date I’ve found two videos of people playing this game, both to little success in terms of information. What fun. Let’s play this thing already.
Now things are getting weird. The basic goal is to capture the blocks with apples (or cherry bombs – it’s hard to tell) in them by surrounding them with a red line. A red line that you shit out. Seriously. Oh, but it gets better, for you can get some helpers. Those other mysterious white blobs from the title screen can help extend your shit line, effectively doubling and then tripling your excretions with which apple bombs are captured. Just look at your team go!
Using these lines is about as mindless and simple as it looks – you use the D-pad to control your ghost/snowman(men) and avoid the various enemies that appear, from onions wearing sunglasses, to an octopus and a Pac-Man rip-off. A really poor Pac-Man imitation at that, whose two-frame animation sequence looks lazy even for the era. And that’s the game – you capture blocks.
Sure there are power-ups that sporadically appear in previously captured spaces, but they vanish so quickly that by the time you finally work the sprite over there, fighting with the sluggish controls, the damn thing’s gone. Not that I ever figured out how to use the bonuses anyways. B scrolls through a list and A does nothing. Not even Select does anything, and Start merely pauses the game, so if you’re looking for any help you’re SOL. Sorry, but the dead/inanimate don’t need help from anybody.
The controls are utterly useless. Changing directions is a frustrating button-mash, the character only turning at an intersection when he feels like half the time, leading to some very stupid deaths. That’s about it for that aspect of the game, as nothing else matters other than not being touched by Kure Kure Takora or that onion. Musically, it’s innocuous upbeat 8-bit clearly designed to motivate the player into suffering through increasingly hideous color palettes. Look at the second world, for instance. Good lord it hurts.
The graphics suck for the NES, with nothing being easily discerned and the colors often looking like clown vomit mixed in with a healthy dose of Midori or Jaeger. It’s as if the stage is an enemy more than the other sprites, what with the colors burning their way through your retinas and decimating corneal functions. But the biggest enemy of them all is the password system. Oh yes, there are passwords you can get after beating each world. But the thing is 14 characters long, all letters, and a total jumble. Yes, that’s right, FOURTEEN CHARACTERS. That’s not as excessive as Simon’s Quest or Metroid, but too damn long for a game based around shitting lines around apple/bomb things. Clearly, the programmers hate you. In terms of difficulty, the only challenge is caring enough to not carelessly die. The action is repetitive and dull, the mission becoming banal annoyances by the third screen. With each world consisting of four screens and a possible bonus world (which is even more disgusting to look at than the normal worlds), it’s a lot of sameness. Obstacles like smaller blocks to halt your movement don’t work, instead becoming yet another waste of time.
Speaking of time, each level has a time limit from 45 seconds to about 120 seconds. Not that you’ll ever run out of time since each second actually lasts about 1.3 seconds, so only the severely handicapped or the incredibly lazy will ever need to worry about this aspect. The only replay value this game even has is the quest to figure out what the hell is going on. With no plot screens and only a name entry option standing between you and the hell that is ACHIKOCH, this game is probably best left alone to ferment amongst the other Famicom dregs.