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Never-released Akira game for SEGA Genesis rediscovered

By Benjamin Bullard
Akira Volume 1 manga cover

Lots of us SEGA fans were too preoccupied back in the 1990s with Shining Force, Shadowrun, and Sonic to realize that we came a hair’s breadth away from getting a Genesis game based on Akira, one of the biggest titans in manga’s storied pantheon. But thanks to an anonymous fan and some support from the online retro gaming community, a prototype of the never-released game has just emerged — more than 20 years after it would have made its 1995 debut.

Twitter lit up the day after Christmas with news that a playable build of the game — which evidently would have simply been titled Akira, judging from the opening scroll — had been unearthed, and came with nearly an hour of gameplay footage to prove it. Based on the 1988 anime classic, the news was all the sweeter coming in 2019 — the year in which the dystopian cyberpunk adventure is set.

Check it out below:

Even though preview footage of the game was originally teased at the 1994 Consumer Electronics Show, the buzz surrounding its release died down as developer Black Pearl Software weathered the shifting tides of a strategy shift from THQ, then its parent company. Planned versions for both the Super Nintendo and the Game Boy also fizzled, leaving the original 1988 Akira game for the NES and the 1994 Akira for the Commodore Amiga CD32 as the only places where we could suit up in red leather and shred through the streets of Neo-Tokyo. 

A member of the fan community at game preservation website Hidden Palace, who was gifted with a pair of printed circuit boards (PCBs) loaded with the prototype, blogs that the gameplay has its share of bugs and that only about two-thirds appears to even be accessible — though the remaining third is present and could perhaps be mined by a ROM-savvy fan. For now, though, it appears as though the only way to channel our inner Shōtarō Kaneda will be to sit back and dream about the dystopian Genesis thrill ride that might have been — while we wait for Taika Waititi's live-action movie remake.


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