Retro Review: Sutte Hakkun (Super Famicom) - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Friday, March 22, 2019

Retro Review: Sutte Hakkun (Super Famicom)

by Danny Bivens

Indieszero’s first game out of the gate was something special.
Indieszero are a pretty awesome development team. If you don’t know them by name, some of the games that they are best known for are Electroplankton on the DS, Final Fantasy Theatrhythm on the Nintendo 3DS, NES/Famicom Remix on the Wii U (and 3DS) as well 2018’s Sushi Striker. They’ve had a lot of hits over the years, but, unknown by many gamers in the west, there was one game that helped get everything started - the puzzle platformer Sutte Hakkun on the Super Famicom.

Release History
Although early prototypes of the game started out on the Famicom Disk System via an event for would be game devs (the Nintendo and Dentsu Game Seminar), Sutte Hakkun originally debuted on the Sattelaview. For those that don’t know, the Sattelaview is the infamous Super Famicom add-on that allowed users to receive games, magazines and other data on their game systems. This first version of the game was released for the service in fall of 1997. The game saw later releases for the broadcast service at various times throughout 1998.

A more complete version of the game was released on the Nintendo Power service. Not to be confused with the magazine that circulated in North America, the Nintendo Power service allowed gamers in Japan to download games to special Super Famicom carts. After purchasing one of the special carts, gamers could purchase games at discounted prices from special kiosks at Lawson stores throughout the country. This version of Sutte Hakkun could be had for ¥2,000.
Finally, Sutte Hakkun was released on a standard Super Famicom cart on June 25, 1999. When it released, the game retailed for ¥4,200. Due to its late release on the platform and the availability and interest in newer consoles (Nintendo 64, Playstation and Dreamcast and Saturn, not to mention upcoming PS2 and GameCube), Sutte Hakkun never really garnered the mainstream success. The game however did see new life (kind of) when it was released on the Wii Virtual Console in 2010 and the Wii U Virtual Console in 2015.

Like stated previously, Sutte Hakkun is a puzzle platformer on the Super Famicom. The particular version that I’ve played for the purposes of this review is the Japanese Virtual Console release on the Wii U. Taking control of Hakkun, players have to guide him through the stages to reach a rainbow shard to complete the levels. Hakkun has a unique ability that sets this game apart from any other game in the genre - the ability to inhale (and exhaled afterwards) blocks, paint and other non-playable characters. Mastering these deep mechanics and using your brain will help you through the increasingly difficult puzzles.

From fairly early points in the game, you will come across a variety of the blocks and color vials throughout the stages. While the blocks are can be inhaled and repositioned to reach new heights, sometimes they just don’t take you far enough. That’s where the color vials come into play. After inhaling paint from the vials, Hakkun turns the corresponding color. You are then able to inject the blocks with the paint. Red paint makes blocks move up and down, blue paint moves blocks from left to right, and yellow paint moves blocks diagonally. When dealing with multiple blocks and rainbow shards, the game really does get challenging quite quickly.
Other non playable characters and some items can be found in some of the stages, some of which can be absorbed and/or filled with color. The most notable is a character named Makkun, a chubby hippo-like character that can do several things once filled with paint. Red makes him into a trampoline, blue makes him walk from left to right, and yellow makes him stomp on switches. Another character named Rokkun (a rock) can be used to break glass floors. Two other characters, Blokkun (looks like a regular block) and a bottle guy, kind of just serve as a way to lightly troll the players. Even if these last two show up, there’s always a way to clear the stages.

A rarity for games of the time, Sutte Hakkun does not give players a set number of lives. If Hakkun takes a tumble down a hole or finds another way to come to an untimely end, players can start the levels over almost immediately. On top of that, there is also a quick save/quick load system which is perfect to use if you’re not quite sure where your next move will take you (aka death prevention!). The scoring system is also interesting. At the start of every stage, players start out with a set amount of points. Every single move you make decreases this number. The goal is to try to get to the rainbow shard in as many moves as possible. If you’re not so great at puzzle games like me, then you can make use of a hint system at any time during gameplay. It will help you through the level, but you will take a major penalty on your overall points for it. These modern sensibilities are awesome to see in a game that was released in the late 90s.
The visuals in Sutte Hakkun are colorful, clear and varied. There are a number of themes for all of the different stages that are represented fairly well in each of the levels. In total, there are over 100 levels to play through. Hakkun himself isn’t a super complex sprite, but it’s impressive to see him fill and empty with color, as well as transform into a block, pretty much at will. The music helps to set the tone as well, matching the visuals with cheerful, upbeat tunes.

Sutte Hakkun is a unique platformer that helped to kickstart the success of developer Indieszero. This game is challenging, has fantastic visual design and tight gameplay. Of course, it’s not like it’s an easy game to pick up in the West, but it’s definitely worth trying to find a way to play Sutte Hakkun at some point.

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