Takeshi no Chōsenjō
|Takeshi no Chōsenjō|
Box art of Takeshi no Chōsenjō.
|Release date(s)||Family Computer
Takeshi no Chōsenjō (たけしの挑戦状?, lit. Takeshi's Written Challenge) is a Japanese action-adventure video game for the Family Computer (known internationally as the Nintendo Entertainment System) developed by the Taito Corporation. Though other video games bearing the names of Japanese celebrities had been developed prior to Takeshi no Chōsenjō, comedian-turned actor and film director Takeshi Kitano (Beat Takeshi) was the first celebrity to actively contribute to the video game's development. The packaging contains several warnings that the game should not be attempted with conventional gaming skills, and the player must complete numerous near-impossible tasks in order to finish the game. It was released only in Japan on December 10, 1986.
Kitano incorporated many of his unique and controversial ideas into the game. For instance, the player can beat up a yakuza gangster at a pachinko gambling establishment, and take the yakuza's money to exchange for prizes. The player can use a hang-glider to fly over into a strange land called the "Red Country" (an amalgam between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany). The player can gain access to the Red Country if they pass over the four other islands, but a huge mountain blocks the way into the country, and the player will be forced to crash into either the mountain or the ground, resulting in an automatic game over screen. There is also a choice on the password-entry screen ("Punch the old man") which also results in an automatic game over, even when the player has not even started the game. Other in-game events include: a game over screen where the player's character is given a funeral, singing karaoke at a pub (using the second-controller's built-in microphone), the main character divorcing his wife and paying a settlement, beating up yakuza, or seeing inhumane comments on store signs.
The game's plot, where a despondent salaryman seeks to find a hidden treasure on an island, is introduced as having been created by Kitano while he was drunk at a bar; however, Kitano himself explains that the plot was solely the result of an hour-long talk at a cafe near his production company.
Completion of the game requires several unorthodox uses of the Famicom system, such as using the second controller microphone to speak while playing pachinko, or not touching the controls for an hour. The player must also maneuver a hang-glider to complete a side-scrolling shooting game, made extremely difficult because the controls do not allow the player to move upwards on the screen. Minor details such as not quitting the salaryman job, not getting a divorce, or not beating up the old man who provides the treasure map, can prevent the player from reaching the ending.
One event requires the player to use the second controller's microphone to sing a verse of karaoke. The player must receive a good rating in order to continue, but the microphone feature was removed in updated versions of the Famicom. Other games substitute the use of the microphone by pressing down the Select button on the controller, but in Takeshi no Chōsenjō, microphone use is substituted by pressing the A button while holding down on the keypad of the second controller. Though the microphone is used to determine the presence of sound, the game does not have the technology to process sound pitches, making it possible to "sing" just by blowing air on the microphone with proper timing.
The game ends once the player discovers the treasure hidden in an island cave. A black ending screen appears, along with the words kan (完?, The End), erai (えらいっ?, good job), and a picture of Kitano's face. The game has no ending credits, and if the player leaves the ending screen on for 5 minutes, the words change to konna gēmu ni maji ni nacchatte dōsuruno (こんなげーむにまじになっちゃってどうするの?, Why are you taking this game so seriously?). Throwing 30,720 punches on the opening game screen will also take the player directly to the game's ending.
Development and reception
The game was originally planned as a Famicom version of Kitano's television show, Takeshi's Castle, before Kitano contacted the game designers about ideas for a new game. The game's basis of being able to exert violence on all characters is similar to that of the Grand Theft Auto series. However, many of Kitano's ideas were rejected either because of the limitations of the Famicom game system, or because the content was not suitable for young children. Two more games bearing Kitano's name were developed after Takeshi no Chōsenjō (Takeshi no Sengoku Fūunji and Family Trainer Totsugeki! Fūun Takeshijō) but Kitano himself was not involved in the development of either of these later games. Though Kitano was involved in a scandal concerning the Japanese gossip magazine Friday (see ja:フライデー襲撃事件) on December 9, 1986, a day before the game's release, Takeshi no Chōsenjō was released as scheduled the following day. Two television commercials were created to advertise the game; one where Kitano is singing karaoke while playing the game, and another where he yells "Come out!" at the microphone in the Famicom's second controller to pull up a treasure map on the game screen. Both commercials are hints for completing the game. According to a Taito Corporation source, 800,000 copies were sold. (Many sources mistranslate the Japanese video as 80,000 copies sold.)
The game placed first in Famitsu magazine's kuso-gē (クソゲー?, crap game) ranking, and is often referred to as one of the worst video games of all time. On the other hand, it left a strong impact on some critics, and in 2007, it was nominated for the 2007 Retro Game Award at the Tokyo Game Show, along with Spelunker, Adventure Island, and Ghosts 'n Goblins (Super Mario Bros. won the award).
In 2014, YouTube video game reviewer Jon "JonTron" Jafari did a review of the game, calling it "one of the lowest ranking and hardest games ever made", claiming that it took him 2 years to beat the game. Special criticism was reserved for the hang gliding segment and the illogical choices you must make to further your progress in the game. The review ended with Jafari sending a letter to Kitano, asking him why he created the game.