Birth of Takeshi Kitano’s Number One Crappy Game
Before online smack talk, spawn camping, the Mass Effect 3 ending, and the admission of Super Smash Brothers into EVO, there was very little in the way of traditional trolling in the video game industry. The act of throwing people off and wasting their time has been nearly perfected by online communities and even political pundits. The act of trolling has become mainstream. However, if there’s anything close to the idea of a proto-troll, an originator, in video game history, it is surely Takeshi’s Challenge.
The mind behind the madness
Takeshi’s Challenge was the brainchild of Japanese comedian, director, and television personality Takeshi Kitano. Kitano has built a career on being irreverent and controversial. His most mainstream television success being Takeshi’s Castle, an obstacle course and challenge free-for-all with the odds stacked against the contestants at all times. Clearly, the man was no stranger to the concept of trolling people, be it his contestants or audience. But in 1986, Kitano was ready to unleash his particular brand of humor to the general video game playing public. The result was Takeshi no Chōsenjō/Takeshi’s Challenge and 800.000 pissed off gamers.
Translating irreverent TV humor to an 8-bit console
On December 10th 1986 Takeshi’s Challenge was released for the Nintendo Famicom, Japan’s iteration of the Nintendo Entertainment System. The first thing to greet gamers were the various warnings on the box, impressing on them that the game should not be attempted using conventional gaming skills and the fact that most challenges in the game will be near-impossible to complete. Although there were several games using celebrity names for promotional purposes at this point, Takeshi Kitano was the first to actively contribute to, and direct, the development, and it shows.
More GTA than SMB
The game has you playing the role of a greedy salaryman hounded by Yakuza (Japanese mafia). In your pursuit of material wealth, you’re able to move around with Grand Theft Auto-style freedom. Of course, the 8-bit video game system heavily restricted Kitano’s creativity, but to this day the game remains hugely ambitious. You can freely attack most characters in the game and roam the pixel city, but the question is: what do you do in the game?
The Con Job
Well, a lot and not much. Like his television series, Kitano’s game is made up of a multitude of challenges. Most of them trial & error affairs made to annoy players, and others simply test the player’s patience. You’ll be singing into the Famicom microphone during a karaoke segment, playing Pachinko, hang gliding, beating your wife and children, and even simply not touching your controller for an hour. You can cause a game over in a variety of ways without you knowing it, simply by punching the wrong person, going to the wrong place, or by throwing 30.720 punches on the opening game screen.
A second chance on mobile?
Although infamous in retro gaming circles, the game was never released outside of Japan. But now the original publisher Taito has posted a list of classic Taito games they’re working on porting over to Android and iOS. Because the announcement was made on April 1st, the validity of the announcement is suspect. However, Time Gal, Rayforce and other games on the Taito Classics list have indeed been released. Will the game translate at all on mobile platforms? Or is it just another troll in line with the game itself? We will find out soon and hopefully get a chance to play the Ichiban Kusoge/Number One Crappy Game ourselves after its scheduled release this summer.
You can watch someone else speedrun through the game frustration-free below: