SEGA AGES Puzzle and Action: Ichidant-R (Switch eShop)- Review

Title: SEGA AGES Puzzle and Action: Ichidant-R
System: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Price: 999 Yen, $7.99
Release Date: 09/25/2019 (Japan)


Story

In this logic puzzle minigame compilation, you take control of the Bonanza Bros as they go off on yet another adventure to rescue a princess from an evil knight. (Who looks an awful lot like a green Shovel Knight, decades before the fact)

Presentation

Having gone over the Sega AGES features in Columns II, most of them apply to this game, in that there’s a variety of filters, borders and display options to toy around with, alongside a consistent main menu theme and UI. Unfortunately, there’s really nothing unique to note about Ichidant R, since the game’s unique border for English players is just the title screen art, while the Japanese border is the Arcade Insturction card, and there’s no added visual flair outside of the credits sequence having the two brothers go on a horse ride together, and a funny censor bar.

The main game ends up looks the sharpest it ever has, since being made on Sega C2 hardware for the Arcade original allowed the pixels to be high quality, making it easy for them to upscale to HD. This may just be a series of puzzle minigames, but it doesn’t stop Ichidant-R from adding a lot of goofy charm to the main duo and the minigames. New to this port of the game is an amusing, gigantic censor bar that blocks the screen whenever you pause the game, to prevent any sort of pause buffering from taking place, adding further to the charm. (and stopping any attempt to cheese the minigames)

Likewise, the Arcade version has some good quality sound, with catchy music and crisp voices. The super rare European version has been included with full English voice acting, but the Japanese original sounds great as well, since both samples are crisp and easy to understand while also having that classic synthesized charm to them.

Not only does this AGES release include the original Arcade version, but it also includes the four-player Mega Drive version, albeit only in Japanese. While the game looks faithful to the original Arcade, the colors are muted and the sound’s a lot more crunchy, so the presentation definitely takes a big step back, though it does remain important to praise the port for looking as close to the original as the Mega Drive was capable of. Even the new modes here look pretty great!

Gameplay

With both the Arcade and Mega Drive versions available, Ichidant-R is a series of logic puzzles where the main objective of the game is to clear these puzzles in order to advance to the next stage and get ever so closer to saving the princess. Whenever you enter a stage, you get a roulette of four minigames to choose from, and upon clearing a minigame you lower the stage goal by one, replacing the cleared game with another one. At the end of a stage, you get to play a bonus level where you ride a house and can jump to collect coins in order to gain extra lives, before moving onto the next set of minigames.

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STRAIGHT FROM HELL

The minigames range drastically in quality, with some that are very entertaining such as a chicken race, a UFO shooter, and a teleport maze, while there are some that are just flatout irritating or awful, such as a stupid pencil sharpener minigame where you have to rotate the joystick like it’s Mario Party 1, a frustrating robot building one that acts as an optical illusion, and the several minigames that require you to count something.

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Needless to say, it’s really annoying to get a game that sucks, (especially the pencil one, if you’re a Joycon user) and that drags the fun factor down a lot as a result. It doesn’t help that the further you get into the game, the higher the chances are that the minigames will repeat, which can leave this experience feeling repetitive rather quickly. Outside of an online leaderboard (to make up for the lack of an in-game one) and the addition of online multiplayer, there’s little else to mention about the Arcade version, and outside of competiting with a friend, I honestly can’t recommend that you play this the whole way through unless you turn on helper mode or have a friend along.

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On the other hand, the Mega Drive version offers a few extra bonuses that help prevent this package from being weak all around. While this version is only available in Japanese, (meaning that a minigame which requires very detailed descriptions of coffins is unplayable for english speakers) the main game mode is practically the same as the arcade version, quirks and all. (with a less evil pencil game, thankfully)

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The real attractions to Ichidant-R MD come from the RPG story mode. Here you’ll be tasked to go from village to village to solve people’s problems in order to reach the Princess on the World Map, where minigames appear in the form of random encounters or boss battles. It makes for one of the most unique RPG experiences that I’ve played in a long while, and even though it’s still in 100% Japanese I managed to understand enough of what was going on to make a decent amount of progress.

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Likewise, there are two multiplayer centric modes on offer, from a four-player competition mode and another four-player mode where you can freely select the minigames of your choice. Unfortunately, you can’t seem to play these modes with a CPU, so I was only able to test the latter mode for the sake of this review. The four-player possibilities do make this a very good port in general, and I actually recommend playing the included MD version if the Arcade one ends up boring you like it did me.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Ichidant-R is easily the most obscure Sega AGES title in the first wave of games. While the Arcade version’s English translation helps significantly in making this widely accessible to the west, the core game is unfortunately not that fun, and the helper mode is an appreciated addition to cut some of the repetitive nature for players who want to see the ending of the game.

Still, the Mega Drive version’s quirky RPG game mode and four-player support still make this entertaining enough to look into, even if this game is the most likely to be the underdog of the lineup. Here’s hoping the superior prequel to this game, Bonanza Bros gets a Sega AGES port if there’s a second wave.

I give SEGA AGES Puzzle and Action: Ichidant-R a 6 out of 10.

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