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Video Game / Takeshi's Challenge

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"This game is made by a man who hates videogames."
Intro text

Takeshi no Chousenjou (Takeshi's Challenge) was a 1986 troll Video Game on the Famicom, made by Taito under the direction of Japanese comedian and film director Takeshi Kitano, known as Beat Takeshi. The player controls a despondent salaryman that must go through a lot of tribulations to find great riches.

The game does anything it can to annoy the user, such as making them sing with the second controller's microphone, press a button for hours, hitting the same enemy thousands of times... all while being attacked by hard-to-avoid enemies. The player can beat people up, get fired and divorced, drink until he passes out, and learn new skills.

The game sold 800,000 copies in its lifetime and was made available in Japan's Virtual Console for the Wii in 2009. It also got a re-release for iOS and Android in 2017.

The game has a Wide-Open Sandbox world and Immersive Sim elements, and allows players to get up to all kinds of shenanigans in an urban city, making it a distant precursor to something like Grand Theft Auto.

This game includes examples of:

  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The old man who gives you the treasure map actually just wants to follow you to it, kill you, and take the treasure. You can kill him before any of that, however.
  • Black Comedy: The game has funny options like beating up your wife and kids, getting fired from your job, or drinking alcohol to restore your health. And that's just the beginning.
  • The Chief's Daughter: Briefly mentioned if the salaryman uses his social dancing skills while in the boiling pot. The Chief will be impressed by the display that he arranges for him to marry his daughter.
  • Controllable Helplessness:
    • Instead of the hang glider, you can use any vehicle that you know how to use to reach the treasure island. Except not; the boat and scuba gear can't fly, the hot-air balloon can't move up or down, and the Cessna can't land. Essentially, picking anything besides the hang glider leads to this.
    • On the last island, you can enter any house, but they will trap you for no reason. There's a big "exit" sign with a huge open window, you can move around all you want, but you will be stuck in the house with no way out.
  • Death of a Child: You can beat up your own children in the game and kill them (insofar as any character in the game dies).
  • Deconstruction Game: Of obtuse game design and game completionism, especially for badly designed games. Note that this was made for the NES.
  • Denial of Diagonal Attack: The player can't punch or shoot while ducking. The game knows this, as nearly every enemy past the start is knee-high.
  • Easter Egg: If you choose to stare at the blank map for an hour, a TV show signing-off message appears, and the screen goes dark. Wait three more hours, and the standard TV test pattern appears. Wait another hour, you see a "good morning" text box, and the game resumes.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: For whatever reason, the whole world is conspiring to see a lowly salaryman dead. Then again, to win the game he ends up quitting his job, leaving his wife and kids while giving them as little money as possible in alimony payment, killing an old man, and flying out to the south pacific to go treasure hunting. So yeah maybe he deserves it.
  • Fake Difficulty: What makes this game very difficult to play is how unfair the gameplay mechanics can be, and this is by design.
  • Guide Dang It!: The entire game. In fact, an official strategy guide was released alongside the game, but it wasn't enough (it literally didn't contain all the steps needed to beat the game), so another was published not too long after. The company has claimed that this happened because the original guide's author literally died while writing it, though according to later interviews, this was a lie they put out because they couldn't handle the volume of calls about the game.
  • Hollywood Natives: The island that holds the treasure is inhabited by these, with all of the stereotypes that entail.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight:
    • Don't try to punch your wife rather than pay the alimony. She has infinite health.
    • The security guards that attack when you choose to punch your boss spawn infinitely. You either leave the screen or get pummeled to death.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Downplayed. Tequilas restore one heart at a time.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Drinking the tequila, in particular, will actually restore your health, but only one heart at a time, and Yakuza will come in to beat you up after enough time passes, potentially starting a Vicious Cycle where you drink, heal, fight, get hurt, drink, repeat. You can drink until you get completely hammered. You need to in order to complete the game.
  • Joke Item: Half of what you can buy serves no purpose whatsoever. Half of those that do have a purpose do nothing to help you progress. In the barbershop, you can even pay to get damaged.
  • Kaizo Trap: A particularly cruel one. The old man that gives the map will follow the salaryman up to the island and kill him once he reaches the treasure. The solution is to beat him up shortly after being given the map.
  • Lost in Translation: That restaurant from the English localization titled "Grilled Mormons"? That's actually a perfectly accurate translation of the joke in Japanese, but the intent of it got mangled up — in the original, its sign was a play on grilled "horumon" (ホルモン), a type of beef/pork cuisine, changing its "h" to an "m" to make it "morumon", as a basic joke on wordplay. No actual Take That! mentality towards Mormons was intended (as far as we know).
  • Magical Asian: Ruthlessly parodied when one shows up to give you the paper that turns out to be a map of hidden treasure. The player ends up beating him to death in the middle of the bar. He functions as a Kaizo Trap, predating the Trope Namer.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: Tons. Good luck figuring out that you need to dip that piece of paper you get in the water when any sane human being would just read it as is.
  • Nintendo Hard: Kinda speaks for itself really. If you die at any time, you go straight back to the beginning of the game! You will die so many times on the hang-gliding section. The game is evil. Also, this is a Nintendo game? That's pretty... surprising.
  • No Name Given: The salaryman is not given a name, and is only recognized as such.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: Besides losing all your health, there are plenty of ways to lose the game.
    • Punching the guy who runs the password system gets you killed. Before the game even starts.
    • Trying to fly away without having the real treasure map or flying anywhere but the South Pacific, causes the plane to explode for absolutely no reason.
    • If you get social dance lessons, and try to use them to get out of the island chief's pot, he's so impressed he makes you marry his daughter. The wedding isn't seen, as the game quite literally says goodbye and tells you to reset. Trying any other option (or the right option without the skills to do it) just leads to a little dialogue before you get boiled, leading to the standard game overscreen.
    • In an extremely cruel fashion, the game can end right near the very end, where the old man who gave you the treasure map shows up to kill you when you reach the treasure. The trigger for this? Not beating him up after he gives you the map.
  • Obligatory Swearing: In the unofficial English translation patch.
    [if the player sucks at Karaoke] THAT WAS SHIT. GET OUTTA HERE.
    [shouting too loudly into the microphone] SHUT UP, YOU DICK!
  • Off the Chart: A sales chart like this appears on the wall of the work building.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: You turn into one of these in the hang-gliding segment. One minor graze? Back to the start!
  • Permadeath: One thing that makes this game Nintendo Hard is that there are no lives; lose all your health and you're dead without a special code.
  • Press Start to Game Over: Choose the 'punch' option when prompted to enter your name and the game ends before it even starts.
  • Salaryman: The Player Character at the beginning of the game. Before he gets fired (and yes, that's a required step).
  • Stealth Parody: Of the concept of video games as a whole, being deliberately designed to annoy the player. Granted it's about as stealthy as a grizzly bear armed with chainsaws crashing a jeep into your living room.
  • Stepford Smiler: You've got to hand it to the Salaryman for being so upbeat all the time.
  • Stewed Alive: One of the island's natives intends to have you boiled in a pot. You have to show him a talent or skill in order to proceed, and they need to be the right skill.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: Getting drunk, unemployed, and divorced are needed to progress.
  • Stylistic Suck: The game is purposely designed to piss off anyone who plays it. It's clear that had the creators genuinely wanted to make a good game, they could have.
  • Take That, Audience!: The entire concept of the game is to annoy and piss off the player in every way possible and then have the creator himself in the ending screen tell the player that beat the game to stop taking the game so seriously.
  • Talk to Everyone: Played with. Talking to random bystanders around the game world gives you some hints on how to progress, alleviating the game's infamous amounts of Guide Dang It! a little... except accessing these hints is a Guide Dang It! in itself. The game gives you no indication that you can talk to random NPCs in the first place, the method to do so is about as counter-intuitive as anything else in the game (you either have to shout into the microphone or press A on the second controller, after enabling the ability to do so by pressing down + A), only a select few NPCs can give the hints to you, they will only say them if you speak to them multiple times, and you need to have the correct "tone" of speech selected from the inventory screen.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone:
    • Drinking tequila will actually restore your hearts by one per drink. The trick is managing the goons that come in to beat you up if you stay inside too long.
    • Once you get to the hotel, you can actually restore your hearts. You're gonna need them.
    • If you've lost all your health, you can go back to full life when laying on the ground before dying if you just press A and B 3 times. It's cheating, but the game never seemed to expect you to beat it fairly anyway.
  • Trauma Inn: You can stop by a hotel to restore all of your hearts. It is highly recommended that you do.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Let's put this in perspective. The very first thing you have to do is ignore the very first conversation option in the game (who is right next to your spawn point), walk all the way out of the building, run straight for the bank (dodging Yakuza mooks), and empty your bank account. If you do anything else, you will probably run out of either money or health.
  • Unbuilt Trope: Kitano basically takes a jab at people who dedicate so much of their time just to finish a video game and find all of its secrets no matter how bad the game is. This is before the time of players that play to find every hidden Easter Egg and developers making their games catering to that type of behavior.
  • Unexpected Shmup Level: Late in the game, you must pilot a hang-glider to the island that has treasure on it. With all the birds and UFOs around, you'll need a gun to even attempt to make it to the island. Oh, and you can't go upwards without wind gusts.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: You play as a salaryman whose goal is to quit the job that he hates, leave his family with as little money as he can give them, and go treasure hunting to make himself rich, all while deciding to punch everything in sight to get there. It's little wonder why the world wants him dead.
  • Unwinnable by Design: There are a lot of ways to make the game unwinnable, and you'll never know about it until the moment comes around.
    • Have too much money on hand before divorcing your wife? You'll lose so much from alimony that you can't buy anything. You have to avoid giving her money by spending what you can beforehand.
    • Do anything other than quit when you talk to your boss? He won't give you the money when you actually need to quit. Similarly, you can't get the keystone from the treasure island chief if you lunge out of his pot instead of playing the shamisen. Though in the latter's case, you can just skip seeing him the first time and wait until you have a gift for him.
    • Forget to buy hang-gliding lessons before leaving for the South Pacific? You'll be stuck on the island, unable to reach the treasure island. No other lessons work, by the way. You can also miss out on getting shamisen and lessons for it, or the language lessons, but that doesn't make the game unwinnable, just more difficult. What does cause un-winnability is not grabbing a canteen before leaving for the treasure island.
    • The cruelest of them all: Don't beat up the old man who gives you the treasure map? The game allows you to progress... until the very end, where the old man comes out, steals the treasure when it's in your grasp, and kills you. Have fun starting all over.
  • Villain Protagonist: While a lot of the more assholish things are done only of the player's volition, the game still requires a lot of outright villainous things to be done (see the Would Hit a Girl example below).
  • Violence is the Only Option: You can punch everybody and in many cases, it will help you advance in the game! You can punch your wife and kids! You can end up murdering them if you really want to! Yay!
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: You have the option to punch just about anyone in the game, regardless of it will help or not. You can beat your own wife and children to death in the game.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Going around punching random people can instantly result in security or the police getting involved. In the case of the password screen, it's an instant game over.
  • Waiting Puzzle: The infamous piece of paper. Unless you yell into the microphone after waiting at least 5 minutes, but no more than ten after you get the paper wet—too early or too late and you ruin it.
  • Weirdness Magnet: The salaryman has a natural talent for attracting the weirdest situations and their equally insane solutions.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: A 2D version, where you go across a city and later an island and have to enter their different establishments and perform a variety of tasks to progress the game. Some activities and interactions are purely optional and won't affect anything, and you can start a dialogue with just about every character that you come across, including some enemies.
  • A Winner Is You: The ending screen does not give you a real ending so much as it shows Takeshi Kitano's cartoon face, and the words Amazing and "The End". If the player waits a few minutes afterward, he calls you out on taking this "crappy game" seriously enough to actually finish it through.
  • World Gone Mad: The game's premise and the protagonist's goals are complimented by a world that is as equally insane and violent as them, where the most random or nonsensical scenarios are game overs and nearly everything relies on logic that only makes sense to itself.
  • World of Chaos: In tandem with the above, the game begins to enter this territory by the end, where the enemies include giant fish heads and living skeletons.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Attacking hostesses at one point is also necessary to proceed.
  • Yakuza: A type of enemy in the game. You can beat them up.

"What would you do if a game like this were serious?"

Alternative Title(s): The Ultimate Challenge From Beat Takeshi