We’re not sure whether a monochrome clone of Excitebike quite captures the Technicolor grandeur of Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira, but then again, rendering the anime classic in videogame form has long proved elusive.
Adaptations appeared on the Famicom (Japan’s NES), Commodore Amiga, and PS2, and none of them particularly set the world on fire. Other Akira games were planned for such systems as the Sega Game Gear and Super Nintendo in the 90s, but little emerged from their production other than a handful of news pieces in magazines.
There was also an Akira game planned for the Game Boy, which failed to get past the prototyping stage. Thanks to video game collector Patrick Scott Patterson (via Kotaku), however, we can at least get a glimpse of what the handheld version of the game might have looked like. He’s managed to acquire some original cartridges containing never-before-seen builds of this long-lost project.
Here’s the game up and running on a CRT screen via the Super Game Boy adapter for the SNES…
Like most movie-to-game adaptations of the ’80s and ’90s, it’s a multi-part action title with platform sections and side-scrolling vehicular sequence where you control Kaneda on his sporty red motorcycle. If you played Ocean Software’s tie-in titles like RoboCop or Batman, you’ll know what to expect.
As you might have guessed, the world didn’t miss out on a classic when Akira was ditched for unspecified reasons. But it’s still fascinating to see what the Game Boy version would have looked like, with a tiny Kaneda punching and kicking his way around a blocky Neo Tokyo. It’s worth noting that the designers really let their imaginations run wild in one of the boss sequencs, in which Kaneda engages in a gun battle with a massive floating blob. We have no idea what’s going on there.