This week online media preservation company The Hidden Palace released the prototype version of a planned video game adaptation of the famous and critically acclaimed 1998 anime film Akira. The 16-bit version of Akira was being developed for the SEGA Mega Drive System, which was released in the United States as the Genesis system in the early 1990s. The Hidden Place user “drx” uploaded the Akira Mega Drive prototype to the site on December 25th, 2019 (the year the movie is set) including various in-game screenshots and a long video (nearly an hour) showcasing the different levels based on Katsuhiro Otomo’s feature-length film version of the iconic Akira manga series. You can check out the video below.
The SEGA Mega Drive adaptation of Akira had a planned 1995 release was being developed by Black Pearl Software, a Chicago-based development company that THQ Inc. acquired in 1993. This newly uploaded version of Akira and the footage from the Mega Drive version appear to be from an older build than the one shown Summer Consumer Electronic Show in 1994, which was the first time the game officially debuted to the press. At that time, the Akira video game was planned to release for SEGA Mega Drive and Super Nintendo.
The video game version of the Akira film looks rather ambitious, with Black Pearl planning to fully and faithfully adapt the experience of the film for the game. The Akira game attempts to translate several key scenes from the film with cutscenes as well as in playable ways, and each level is played following different genre conventions. In the YouTube description of the Akira game footage, The Hidden Place describes the game as featuring “first-person shooting, racing, platforming, and beat-em-up segments” depending on which style most suits the film’s key moments.
While the newly uploaded version of the vaporware Akira game adaptation is interesting, it is unfortunately not a playable build of the project. According to The Hidden Place’s page for the new Akira file, over 35% of the ROM content is “non-null data containing sprites and other unused data.” None of the various levels can be completed in this build of the game either, and the Akira game is prone to freezes an crashes. The sprite work is, however, really well-executed and it does look like the development team wanted their Akira game to match the genre-defining quality of Otomo’s 1988 film (and much improved over the 1994 Amiga game adaptation).
A live-action movie adaptation of the anime film Akira by director Taika Waititi is in development, but according to reports the Akira project is on hold indefinitely.