Have you ever wondered why, at the end of games, evil is never destroyed, but always gets sealed up? Well, Akuji gives the answer. If they were destroyed, how would they be able to get back out and take revenge?
This revenge is what this game is all about. You play as the demon Akuji, who had been terrorizing a land until a hero defeated him, sealed him away and divided his demonic powers into nine balls. The demon set his mind on revenge and has to break out of the dark dungeon he's been sealed in, gathering his lost powers to eventually defeat the hero and regain his true form.
The story might sound like it'd promise gore, gloom and guts, but that's far from true. The graphics are bright and colourful, resembling those from old SNES games. The characters are all pretty cute, as if they jumped out of a kid's cartoon. They also provide constant variation, so you'll never get bored of your surroundings. Even within the same areas, there are details that change from room to room, making exploring a feast for the eyes.
Akuji's music, on the contrary, is fairly poor. There are two songs that constantly loop, and that's it. Luckily, those two songs stay in the background all the time, so it won't bother you much. In fact, it fills a gap of silence that'd otherwise be disturbing. Sound effects, on the other hand, are perfect for the game and often give clues as to what's happening around you while you can focus on what lays right ahead of you.
Gameplay itself is pretty straightforward. All you need are the cursor keys and Z, X and C. C isn't even necessary, as it acts like a Start-button on a console. It'll pause the game and'll give you the choice to either continue, go back to the title screen or quit the game. Z is used for jumping, while X is used for shooting. If you're not happy with these keys, you even have the possibility to reconfigure them to your liking. The rest of the gameplay uses combinations. One power, for example, requires you to jump, then press the Up cursor to change form. All in all, the controls are so simple you could play it with an NES controller and still have one button left unused.
In Akuji, there are quite a few things you can collect. There're the nine balls with extra powers, scattered all over the place, which you'll need to collect if you want to get further in the game. Along with these, there are red and jalapeno peppers. The red ones restore one HP, while the jalapeno ones restore all HP. You'll start out with three HP, but there's a way to increase the maximum number of them. This is done by collecting enough mana stones. Below your HP is an indicator that says how many such stones you've collected and how many are needed for the next extra HP. Silver stones will increase this indicator by one, while gold ones increase it by ten. Last but not least, there are seven picture books to collect. They're not necessary to finish the game, but once you've finished it, you'll be able to see some nice concept art as an extra choice under Options from the title screen.
A little other extra is that you'll get a rank once you've finished the game, based on the number of mana stones you found and the time it took you to finish the game. At the beginning of a new game, you'll be able to pass a special door if you're rank S or SS. What's behind there is up to you to find out.
Akuji The Demon definitely is a fun game that both young and old will love and enjoy. Whenever you feel like playing a game, but don't want to spend entire days on one, or don't want too much gore or brainwork, Akuji's the perfect choice.
Review by: Raf