Review by Mister Sinister

Reviewed: 08/31/07

A hard game to play, but if you like things difficult (even on easy), then you'll probably LOVE this one ;)

FOREWORD

Chakan the Forever Man is a game that I found in the bargain basement bin at my local second-hand video games store. Not being sure what to expect, but looking for a new title to add to my expanding collection, I picked it up and took it home ...

... was I ripped off ? Or did I buy something really spanktacular ? Read on ...

OVERVIEW AND OBJECTIVE OF THE GAME

Chakan the Forever Man is a platform game which sees you put in control of an immortal character - Chakan - who is on a mission to wipe out all evil, everywhere.

Your objective in this game is to seek and destroy a number of evil creatures of great power - Elkenrod (a former healer now turned sadistic b!atch), the Spider Queen (who's brood is burrowing ever-deeper into the earth), Mantis (a creature that came from the Sea and has built itself up an army and a huge tower to protect itself), and the Dragonfly King (who hails from a prehistoric time where his kind ruled the Earth).

Once you have purged the world of these four main evils, you may at last find peace.

GRAPHICS - 7/10

Graphically, Chakan is a varied game. There are sections which are graphically very well done, such as his bog-standard walking animation, some of the effects he comes up with when he is doing alchemy, and so on.

Then, there are sections which are (again, graphically-speaking) NOT so well done. There is a general lack of variety in the villains in each act - there are 1-3 different types of enemy per zone it seems, and the animations on most of the enemy sprites is not as varied or interesting as on the main character (which is ok).

The backgrounds are a bit lacklustre throughout the game, but the special effects are generally good, so it balances out to give the game a decently polished feel to it, even though some areas are better attended to than others.

SOUND - 5/10

The sounds, however, are a bit naff to be honest. The music is generally very dark and foreboding, which is very much in keeping with the ambience of the game and is, consequently, absolutely fine. A couple of sound effects are nicely done, such as the sound of a minor enemy (such as the fish on the first Water Dimension Level) being slain - however all too often the sounds seem to be rather grainy and spliced, which can lead to your actually wanting to turn the sound down, or even off altogether, whilst you're playing ... and that ISN'T good is it ?

CONTROLS - 7/10

The control method in the game is fair enough - Chakan can attack in EIGHT different directions with his weapons (twin katana blades by default), and there are a number of alternative weapons that he can use during play, which he picks up at the end of levels.

Jumping is easy, and he can do a double-jump to reach higher levels - however there is a certain level of irritation when doing this, as very often the ledges upon which he must jump are either very well hidden, or very small and fiddly to get to. The game tries to be swift with its play (quite often you must make such jumps whilst fending off multiple attackers), and so the recurrence rate of failure when attempting such deft manoeuvres is on the high side.

This is a HARD game to play, and requires focus and dedication to the control method to get the most out of. However, if you are willing and able to invest the time and energy in getting the controls down pat, you will be flitting around the levels like a Pro ... not in a short while, but once you've invested the necessary amount of time ;)

PLOT - 8/10

Well it's certainly different, and I like that. Chakan was a fantastic swordsman and warrior during his life, and made the ultimate mistake of claiming that he would even be able to best DEATH were he to face him.

Death showed up, and took Chakan up on his offer under a condition. If Chakan were to win, he would live forever. If he were to fall to Death, however, Death would have dominion over him as his slave.

Chakan accepted, and BEAT Death !! The Grim Reaper himself !! So he won his immortality, but only then did he realise that immortality is both a blessing AND a big@ss curse.

Now he must rid the world of ALL evil before he will be able to reap (no pun intended) the rewards of a well-earned slumber.

Nicely thought out, and it gives the developers great scope for introducing villains to keep you going. Since you cannot "die" per se (you can still fall off ledges and get burnt to a crisp, but you return to the main portal chamber rather than losing proper), this is probably why the developers decided to make the game a fair bit harder than many of its rivals in the marketplace at the time.

The game is divided up into, basically, four Dimensions - Air, Earth, Fire and Water, with each one having a major bad@ss evil villain/villainess to defeat at the very end, and each one being divided up into a number of sub-levels that you must go through sequentially (unless you cheat).

You pick up weapons along the way which prove useful to you in later missions - the grappling hook, for example, can be embedded into ledges above you to enable you to reach higher platforms, and so on, so there is a feeling (albeit a limited one) of character development as the game continues, which is nice.

It isn't the best developed plot in video gaming history you must understand, but it's a nice spin on other themes that has not really been repeated to my mind, and for that it gets my approval :)

GAMEPLAY - 6/10

Whilst there are elements of Chakan that are very satisfying to play, such as when you pin a boss in a location and just hammer away (in fact you don't even need to hammer away - just holding your weapon to touch an enemy damages them, so if/when they are pinned, you can just hold your weapon so it touches them and they will take consistent damage), or when you reach that ledge that has been annoying the cr@p out of you for ages ? There are also moments when you will want to incinerate your controller in anger ... like the 3,000 times you TRIED to reach that ledge before finally succeeding ... or the way you keep falling off that one ledge at the end of that stage and going straight back to the portal chamber again.

The boss fights range from being VERY easy to EXTREMELY hard, and there are times when it feels somewhat unbalanced to play, as you will go from something LUDICROUSLY easy to something that you will probably wind up headbutting your television set screaming at, it vexes you so.

As I have said before, Chakan the Forever Man is a HARD game, and requires patience, dedication and focus in order to maximise your enjoyment of it. If you're thinking you'll just pick it up and run with it, think again !!

REPLAY VALUE - 6/10

There are a number of elements included in the game that make its mid- to long-term replay value decent, such as there being a cheat which enables you to basically level-select in the game (so you don't have to go through ALL the levels again). However the short-term replay value of the title is on the lower side, owing to the difficulties of playing it, and the very high frustration level you will experience from repeatedly fluffing things up.

Therefore this is a title who's replay value actually IMPROVES with age !! How often does THAT happen ;)

VALUE FOR MONEY - 5/10

Unfortunately the complexity of finding yourself a copy of Chakan these days, together a Megadrive/Genesis to play it on, AND the inherent difficulty of the game itself, make it not exactly the best of titles in the value for money stakes. You are likely to get the most out of it if you really enjoy playing games on their hardest difficulty settings, and have the patience of a saint.

OVERALL - 7/10 (This is NOT an average)

Chakan the Forever Man is a difficult game that requires skill and patience to play and enjoy. It has poor sounds, but an elaborate control method allowing you to do battle in eight different directions, and varied and generally decent graphics throughout (even if they lack a little variety here and there).

It is perhaps the sudden and abrupt variation in the difficulty level of the game which is both its greatest strength and its biggest weakness.

MAIN GOOD POINTS

* Decent graphics for the most part
* Powerful enemies as bosses (not always, but often)
* Cool plotline

MAIN BAD POINTS

* Sounds are pretty poor throughout the game
* Sometimes the difficulty-level is WAY high, and that can be VERY annoying

SO SHOULD YOU GET IT ?

If you like difficult titles to get your teeth sunk into, then sure !! Even though it WILL be difficult for you to find a copy (and a Megadrive/Genesis to play it on), you will get a lot out of it if you enjoy those types of games.

If, however, you are looking for something that's plug & play, enjoyable and exciting ? You could do better elsewhere I'm afraid to say =./ It's just so damned hard !!

Rating:   3.5 - Good

Product Release: Chakan (EU, 12/31/92)

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