[Text in brackets = Text not spoken but shown on screen]
[Takeshi's Challenge 挑戰狀]
Jon: Throughout history, mankind has faced challenges far and wide. Building the Great Wall of China, combating worldwide plagues, and even escaping our own atmosphere to brave the perilous journey to the infinitive. But there were some challenges that were never meant to be faced, some peaks too monumental, some chasms too great. There's bravery, and then there's just plain stupidity. But mankind doesn't get anywhere by playing it smart. Some of us have to be the guinea pigs, do the work no one else wants to. And that's why I'm going where no man has ever gone before and come back to tell the tale.
Mission Briefing: Subject, Takeshi Kitano, otherwise known as Beat Takeshi, Japanese film director, comedian, singer, actor, author, screenwriter, poet, painter - okay what wasn't this guy? And one time, video game designer. Yeah, you hear that? One time, 'cause one time is all he needed. After that, the sea floor split open and swallowed the Caribbean, earthquakes ravaged the west coast of America, and goblins were still really, really scary!
Jon: Ew! I don't like 'em! I don't like goblins!...Uahh!
Although being more comfortable with directing and acting, Beat Takeshi was never one to back down from a new art form. So, when Taito Corporation asked him to lend his name to their new video game, instead of simply saying yes and taking the money, he chose to be directly involved with the creation of the game. He even starred in two Japanese commercials advertising the game. Perplexingly enough, both of these commercials were actually cryptic hints on how to complete difficult parts of the game.
And then, this. (The thrilling music starts) Like Aphrodite rising from the sea foam of Uranus's severed ballsack, (the music stops) no I'm serious that's how it happened, look it up, it's true, it's definitely true (the music starts back again) Takeshi Kitano cut from the balls of Taito and released this to the masses. This is universally referred to as one of the worst ranking and hardest video games of all time! And it's only known as Takeshi's Challenge. God help us all.
[Jon puts the game into the Famicon and goes to take the controller, but it doesn't have much reach. He gives up and moves the console.]
Jon: Ah, fuck it, come on.
Here it is. You're looking at the very same image a thousand Japanese kids saw on Christmas morning, 1986. Put your mind into their's. Feel the pain. Feel the anger. And first off, I wanna say there's a password guard in front of this password screen here and you can just punch him, and get a game over, before you even play the game.
Jon: Game over? I think there has to be a game first for it to be over. Maybe they're talking about the game of life.
The game opens up with you getting yelled at in your boss's office. Like literally, you don't even get fired, it's not concrete, you're just getting reprimanded, for your mediocrity. Oh yeah? You're gonna yell at me? Well, this is a video game, I can do what I want!
[Jon's character punches another character in the back of the head]
Jon: Oh, Merry Christmas, Japan 1986. Oh my God, why would I try to escape real life by playing a game that's more depressing than real life? Am I suppose to feel good by comparison? Well at the very least, I can say this game was innovative for its time. It's open-ended and has heavy real life themes. Which most concurrent games had little of, if any. But perhaps it's a bit too open ended. Where am I suppose to go? The bank? The culture club? Grilled Mor-Mo-Mormons?!
Jon: Whoa, what's goin' on? I didn't know it was alright to eat those guys. I better sure check The Broble, make sure, make sure that's okay.
Well, I already have no idea what to do. So I guess I'll do what I always do when I'm lost: drink heavily! Lots of drinks! Way absolutely above the margin of necessary- Mom is scared. ... "Huh? It's pitch-black?"
Jon: Wait, where am I? Is this woman beating up on me? What's going on? ... "My Home". Well, this explains quite a bi-
So you talk to your wife, and your options are "Food", "A bath", "Let's go to bed", "I want to travel", and "I want a divorce". This is a video game from the 80's! Keep in mind, at this point most games looked like this or, or this. They didn't usually have things of domestic conflict in them, and they still don't, really. Let's give her the good old one two divorce and see what happens, I mean after all, she is violent. So you can "Pay alimony" or "p...punch...." Punch.
You know whenever I find myself in this situation, I find "pay alimony" works out far smoother in the long run. But there is no denying that a punch is a much more satisfying short-term solution. Also, I'd just like to point out that there is a licensed Nintendo game with domestic violence in it! You can literally murder your wife and children. Literally, murder your children, I think I need to repeat that, literally murder your children. If the walls could talk, they'd say really bad things about that guy.
Jon: Now this is the point where most people, like 99% of people would do this.
[Jon throws the game in the trash, burns it, and performs rituals to get rid of the bad spirits]
Jon: Out of this house! Out of this house! Spirits be gone from this house. But this isn't most people.
[Remix of Jontron intro music]
[Jon dresses up in a suit and tie]
Jon: This is JonTron! *coughs and chokes*. To take on this challenge, I have to think like a salary man, dress like one, be one. Let's beat Takeshi at his own game, goddamit.
You are not gonna believe this. This game requires an insane amount of trial and error, more that any sane person would be expected to undertake. For starters, you're supposed to ignore your boss at the beginning of the game because you want to pick up the bonus he gives you later. So, you go directly to the bank and close out your account to withdraw the 50,000 yen that are in there. Then you go to the local culture club and use the money to buy SHAMISEN lessons? Yeah, it sounds random, right? But, you're suppose to do this because you actually have to start the game out by divorcing your wife. And when you do that, you have to pay her alimony. And that means that 75% of the money that you're holding onto at that given moment will go to her. And you need the money later or else you'll get stuck, you won't be able to beat the game.
So basically you're trying to give your wife as little money as possible. Yeah, who said chivalry's dead? The next steps are entirely steps made of logic. 1. Quit job, 2. take money out of the office plant, 3. learn to hang glide, All the while, managing to dodge Yakuzas trying to beat the shit out of you as you moon jump past. Yeah, by the way, they're unavoidable! It doesn't matter how hard you try, unless you get lucky 10% of the time, they'll teleport to you and take a hit. Now normally in a video game, this wouldn't be a problem. But for a majority of time in this game, you can't replenish your hearts! And you only have 4, which is not a lot. Trust me. It's like the Yakuzas are a tax, a toll. Every time you pass one, they take a part of you with them. The more you play the game, the more you run the meter. Better use your time wisely.
Jon: It's just an allegory, it's just an allegory of our inevitable demise. I'm slowly dying, I'm slowly dying just like him. Each obstacle makes an etching in my soul.
Now this may seem very cryptic and convoluted but that's because you haven't heard the next part. You're supposed to go to the Pachinko parlor and buy 500 balls and lose them. "Sir, you don't have enough balls." Okay, first off, rude. But secondly, yes I fucking do because they won't go down. I keep winning balls. Yeah, the one time I wanna lose at gambling and I can't do it if I tried. And I don't know for sure what hell looks like but I think it might be a bit like Takeshi's Challenge.
Jon: This is ridiculous!
[The second controller's microphone records Jon's sound and the AI responses]
Jon: "Shut up, you dick!"?
[He looks over at the second controller]
Jon: You're supposed to yell into the microphone on the second controller.
Jon: A bunch of yakuza toughs fill into the parlor, and to beat this part you have to knock out at least one of them, which is really hard because all three of them pummel on to you quickly and you die in seconds. Oh, and did I mention? Any time you die in this game you have to go to the beginning. And that means doing every single minute step all over again. And by the time you beat this game, you could write a strategy guide on it 'cause you know it front to back. After you scare off the yakuzas from the parlor, the owner gives you a bunch of balls which you use to buy a shamisen. What even- what even is- what even is that? Okay, it's that. (it is a musical instrument) That's what it is. I mean, okay I guess I'm familiar. I just didn't know the name. Now we're off to the karaoke bar to sing the same song 3 times in a row because Takeshi Kitano was an insane person. You actually have to sing into the microphone on the second controller which is pretty innovative for its time. But it's incredibly difficult and precise.
[The japanese music starts~]
Jon : Once you've completed the songs, guess what happens? Guess. Guess what. A bunch of Yakuzas storm into the bar, and you've gotta beat the shit out of all of them again on the same hearts. Then, just in the nick of time, an old man comes in and gives you a map. And then you beat the shit out of him. It's not even an option, you have to do that. But when you look at the map, of course, it's blank. To reveal it, you have to let it soak in water and wait 5 minutes, but not more than 10, and then cry into the microphone, or bathe it in sunlight and let the controller sit for an hour. Ah, arbitrary wait times. What do ya know? It's an early MMO! Now that we've got our treasure map, I say it's off to the South Pacific. Haha. No, seriously , you head to the airport and board a plane to the South Pacific.
Jon: You know this only just dawned on me right now, but do you realize that this is a Nintendo game in which you quit your job, divorce your wife, and go treasure hunting. 10 outta 10. 10 outta 10. 100 outta 100-Best game. Best game.
When you get there, you get a gun. Well, getting the gun is kinda cool, I guess. It actually works. It's not just a bait-and-switch. Only now can you sleep at the hotel and regain your hearts. Oh my God, it's beautiful. It's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen! You know, for such a bad game, when I saw those 7 hearts, I was happy. I guess it just shows that life is all about perspective.
Okay this next part I can't even stress enough. This is one of the hardest parts in any video game I've ever played. You have one shot at this flying segment where you have to shoot a revolver abreast a hang glider at giant dive-bombing pigeons and UFOs! If you get hit once, you're dead. Game over. And you know what that means. Divorce your wife, sing the karaoke, question if it's ethical to eat Mormons. Do the whole thing over again just to have another go at this hang gliding segment. It could take you 20, 30 times before you get this. And it wouldn't even be so bad if you could fully control the hang glider. But once you drop altitude, the only way you can go back up is to hit one of these gusts of wind which you can accidentally shoot and destroy!
Jon: Never in my life have I said, "Goddammit, I shot the wind again!" and meant it. And meant that. Can you even fathom how hard this is? Was a human actually intended to be able to overcome this? After a while, it breaks you down. The only thing that keeps you going is the thought of what's coming next. The thought of winning! You can't let it beat you! It was designed to beat you. You wanna know how hard this game is? I started this review in 2012. Come on, I have to do this. I can't stop until I do this! Please, ple- oh! Ohmygod! Ohmygod, I made it! I did it! I got there! I got to the island! I'm finally here! I'm in the treasure cave, this is the final stretch!
Of course, they wouldn't give you a break either. There's literally enemies oozing from every crack of this cave. Talk about having some PTSD, you're looking at this while have flashbacks of having to do the goddamn fuckin' pigeon section again. It's a non-stop barrage of scorpions, amoebas, pirates, skeletons, and flameballs. I swear to God, I don't think you could beat this segment if there wasn't a built-in exploit to the game which is if you pause the game and unpause it, all the enemies reset. And then, finally, you see it! Just out of the corner of your eye.
"Not every one is created equal, not in a racist way I'm talking more about will power. Sorry if you thought that was a racist or sexist comment. Some are quicker to make an excuse than a commitment. But we live in a world where if you don't decide to be the very best, someone will step up and be happy to take your place. Today we've scaled a new peak and you know what? The view's pretty good from up here. Takeshi, I beat your challenge. To the victor go the spoils! What do I win?"
[I'VE FINALLY FOUND THE TREASURE!
AMAZING - THE END]
Jon: That's it? That's all it is? It says "amazing" and there's just- just a face...in the corner? After...after all that I just went through?
Translation: "Dear Mr. Kitano, I've been a really big fan. I really liked you in Battle Royale. Japan is the birthplace of modern gaming. Why did you make Takeshi's Challenge? Why would you do this to us? Do you hate me? Did someone make you do this? Enclosed in this envelope is another envelope and paper, so you can write me back and apologize. I am really, actually sending this letter to you. It's in your PO box. I am actually going to send this to you after this video recorder stops taping me."
Jon: Ah- to- se- bad game! 2 out of 10.
[The Gamespot logo flashes on the screen flashing and exploding]