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A Look At: Ahoge Chanbara

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May ahoge toil upon the earth and take root!

Developed for iOS devices by M2, Ahoge Chanbara is a story of justice, love, and the ahoge way. It's a tale of revenge, redemption, and a stirring reminder of what makes us human. It's an experience that pats you lovingly on the head, only to tear out a giant chunk of hair as if it were some grotesque spoil of war. 

Ahoge Chanbara is the weirdest, and quite possibly funniest game I've played all year.

Ahoge Chanbara (iOS)
Developer: M2
Publisher: M2
Release Date: March 3, 2013
MSRP: Free ($2.99 for the full game)

Ahoge Red is a young woman keen to learn the ways of the ahoge. After training long and hard as a disciple of Master Ahoge, she departs on a quest to find true enlightenment. Throughout her journey, she'll encounter ahoge warriors from all walks of life, learning lessons about what it truly means to practice the art of ahoge. What awaits her at the end of her journey? Who is her true enemy?!

I suppose it's important to first define what an ahoge actually is. Often seen in anime and manga, ahoge refers to the sprig of hair popping out from the top of a character's head. Ahoge Chanbara plays with this design trait by taking it and morphing it into ridiculous shapes that defy gravity. You haven't lived until you've seen an ahoge that takes the form of a working chainsaw. 

Ahoge Chanbara is not a terribly complicated game. By tapping the screen, Ahoge Red will stab her hair out at an opposing enemy. If you hold your finger down on the screen, she'll charge her attack, doing massive damage on impact. If it misses however, her hair gets stuck in the ground, leaving her vulnerable to an enemy's attack. Swiping your finger down the screen makes Ahoge Red dodge out enemy attack range. The combat system is all about reading your opponent's tells and faking them out. It's simple to learn, but by the final few chapters I found myself dying an almost laughable amount of times. Enemies have the same abilities (some stronger) as Ahoge Red, and the last few battles are both a test of endurance and stamina. After defeating an opponent, you're given the opportunity to pluck their ahoge off of their head as a reward for your victory. This simple yet difficult gameplay makes Ahoge Chanbara a perfect fit for iOS.

Where Ahoge Chanbara really shines is in its hilarious writing and localization. Characters with giant plants and weapons on their heads spout out ridiculous lines that wouldn't be out of place in a Shonen Jump property. References to all kinds of pop culture favorites are littered throughout the game. Ahoge Chanbara doesn't take itself even remotely seriously, but by pretending to do so, it's all the more funny. I can't even remember the last time I laughed so hard at a video game, never mind an iOS title. Ahoge Chanbara also keeps tabs on which ahoge you've collected through the "Ahoge Workbook." Each ahoge you've obtained has a paragraph-long description that defies all logic and reason (for the better). It's completely worth your time to go through and try to collect all 58 available chunks of hair.

Screenshots don't actually do Ahoge Chanbara much justice: it's a surprisingly well animated game. Characters move fluidly and each have their own strange quirks. The ahoge designs are simple but appropriately weird, and the whole shebang is colorful and fun to look at. Much to my surprise, the story mode also features quite a few CG stills as well.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the absolute killer soundtrack, composed by Jaelyn Nisperos (KOKUGA OST Remix track). A mix of high tempo beats and chiptune-esque tunes, I completely understand why the OST is available as a download on the Official Site. Even if you have no interest in Ahoge Chanbara, I recommend you check out the soundtrack.

Ahoge Chambara is strange, funny, and a great way to waste time on your phone. It's a charming action game that completely justifies its $2.99 asking price. After spending a great deal of time during bus commutes furiously tapping my iPhone's screen, I feel as though I've come away enlightened. The ahoge is not to be feared, but embraced.

Love, peace, and the ahoge way.


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reviewed by Elliot Gay

 

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Elliot Gay
Elliot GayContributor   gamer profile

Elliot is an associate editor for Japanator and can be found contributing to Destructoid on occasion. He lives in Japan and can be found on Twitter @RyougaSaotome. more + disclosures


 



Filed under... #feature #iOS #iPhone #japan #Japanator Original #Japanator Recommends #reviews #top stories #Video games #wut

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