The Weekly WTF: The Madness of ‘Takeshi’s Challenge’

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chris-littlechild - February 6, 2015

The world of the gametastic is now bigger than ever. Since the Wii and tablets and all these newfangled doohickeys arrived on the scene, everyone's playing. Grandma may have needed diapers since she had that episode, but she can flail away furiously at Wii Tennis with the best of them. Children a year or two old can also get their game on, inadvertently racking up bills for thousands of dollars in app stores on Ma and Pa's iPad.

However all-inclusive video games have become, though, there'll always be those who bitch about them. You'll usually find them in the tabloids, insisting that Grand Theft Auto is breeding a generation of drug-dealing psychopathic kleptomaniac arsonist pimps. With herpes.

But sometimes, this kind of prejudice takes a crazy goose-step too far. One guy hates gamers so much that he created the most evil game of all time to torture us with. Gentlemen, meet Takeshi's Challenge.

Takeshi Kitano is said guy. He brought us Takeshi's Castle, the demented game show with the dumping-contestants-into-something-slimy fetish. Just so you know the level of bastardry to expect here. The game hit the NES in Japan back in 1986, and the box itself warns you just what the hell you're getting into. This one can't be tackled with the usual good ol' gaming skills, that's for sure.

You're cast as regular dude, attempting to reach an island of buried treasure. It sounds like the kind of thing Robert Louis Stephenson would write, and which would later be adapated into a sappy family movie. But along the way, Takeshi's objective seems to be to make protagonist and player alike as effing miserable as possible.

The game is legendary for three things: Its ball-busting difficulty, the intense ridiculousness of its scenarios, and the way it combines the first two things. It's loosely defined as a platformer, but is more of a collection of utterly whacked out minigames. One of which, for instance, demands that you don't touch the controller for an hour in real-time. The game won't continue if you press anything at all during that time.

Other highlights include punching pensioners for their magic treasure map (the details won't appear on it for an hour, hence the above). Then there's the karaoke segment, which demands constant ‘singing' to be detected by the NES joypad to register as complete. Three times. If Takeshi's Challenge deems your singing bad at any point, you'll have to repeat the lengthy process again. Three more times. After waiting through the whole idle hour again.

In between bouts of infuriation, the player character's life will die on its ass around you. You can become a drunk, lose your job, divorce your wife, or all three if you take an unfortunate route through the game (not that there's a fortunate route through this slice of shite). If you don't experience all of these disasters, you won't see the ending. Which says it all, really.

Denofgeek probably said it best:
"Takeshi's Challenge, it seems, is an elaborate practical joke on Kitano's part – a way of thumbing his nose at people who waste their time trying to accomplish futile tasks. It's a kind of anti-game, from which it's almost impossible to derive any enjoyment."

But where I come from, we just say it's bollocks. That's pretty much the gist.

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