on February 18, 2013 by Geraint Evans
So I thought I’d take a look at the lovely Squid-former Ikachan. I guess it’s particularly worth revisiting now because, as some of you may or may not know, it’s currently available on the Nintendo eShop for 3Ds for about $5- and I noticed that it’s starting to pick up some coverage. If you’ve never heard of this game then – well, now would be a good time to check it out.
A couple of important things that might be worth mentioning. Firsty Ikachan is the work of Studio Pixel and so the work of one man – Daisuke ‘Pixel’ Amaya. If you think his name sounds familiar, it’s because it’s made by the same guy who did the excellent Cave Story, which we covered in some depth here.
In fact, anyone who considers themselves a fan of Cave Story, should check this out if only forcuriosities’ sake. Both games share a charming blocky taste in mini sprites and 8-bit-esque environments. Both have a great feeling of inertia in movement – more so with Ikachan because of the underwater setting – and both share hypnotically simple (though no less beautiful) soundscapes.
In Ikachan, you control a little squid. Left and right tilts Ika left and right and Z gives him a little propulsion. Movement takes some time to get used to as you’re only able to angle and thrust upwards and left and right – and it feels a bit like Mario’s water levels on occasion – but once you get used to the movement and patience required for accuracy, you’ll soon find yourself scooting around the blocky landscapes and dispatching enemies with some confidence.
Also, much like Cave Story, the environment is structured around the classic – explore, upgrade revisit and unlock mechanics of games like Metroid – albeit on a more dinky scale! There’s also a simple levelling up system that allows you to collect fish for EXP and subsequently gain better capacity for health, and therefore survivability.
There are also little underwater denizens to chat to from time to time – and an outlining story that revolves around a Fishy kingpin that’s making the underwater land a miserable place – and it’s up to you to sort it all out.
It’s a very nice, and curious little game – and well worth a visit for any Cave Story fans who weren’t aware of it’s existence. The 3DS version has been beefed up a little visually, but if I’m brutally honest, Ikachan is not a very big game at all so I think I’d struggle to justify the cost, especially when you can play the original game completely free, right here.