Note 1: This game was played on the Analogue Super NT console. It was connected to a 39-inch HD-tv through HDMI.
Note 2: This version of Go! Go! Ackman is an SNES reproduction that has been translated to English. Thank you, translators!!!
Note 3: There is other great information for this game online, as well as the two sequels (both of which, as of this review in June 2018, have unfortunately not been translated to English). This review, however, will try to provide information that is not available on other sites (that I’ve found), specifically regarding gameplay.
Brief Overview: Go! Go! Ackman was released for the Japanese Super Famicom in 1994. It was never released in the U.S. The game is based on a short manga (a style of Japanese comics). I have not read the manga; however, from what I have gathered, the game follows the original comic story.
Story: Ackman (pronounced ‘Ah-key-mahn,’ I believe), a demon, wakes from a 50-year nap to gather souls for his Master. With him is Godon, a small red demon who carries a jar for collecting souls. Standing in the way of Ackman is Tenshi, an angel who loathes Ackman, and Michaela, the ‘Great Angel’ and Superior of Tenshi. Of the two (Tenshi and Michaela), Tenshi is the primary antagonist, and he frequently hires or enlists goons (Bosses) to take out Ackman. Interestingly, the ‘angels’ are anything but ‘good’ or ‘pure,’ and are depicted as dastardly and scheming! So fear not if you happen to be thinking, “A game where I have to fight angels? I don’t know…” These guys are ‘angels’ in name only! And the ‘souls’ Ackman collects are only from the goons of Tenshi, who were up to no good in any event.
Levels: 5 Levels (composed almost like chapters, with cut scenes and dialogue preceding and after each one, as well as between some sub-stages), make up the game. 2-3 short sub-stages make up each Level.
Level 1- Angel’s Test
Level 2 – Michaela’s Plan
Level 3 – Cursed Ruin
Level 4 – Underground Trap
Level 5 – Devils vs. Angels
Control: You can change the button inputs in the Options menu, but Y is attack (punch), B is jump (hold B in Level 4 to use your jetpack to temporarily fly), and A throws a bomb (limited supply). L makes Ackman dash; Ackman will dash after a few steps on his own, but this allows you to take off from a standing position, which can come in handy (I prefer changing this function to button R). Holding Y will power up Ackman to throw a projectile ‘wave.’ Jumping then pressing Y will execute a jump kick, and ducking and pressing Y will execute a sweeping kick.
Difficulty: You can change the difficulty between Easy and Normal. There are several differences between the two difficulties.
Easy – Ackman begins with a 6-unit Life Bar. He begins with 3 bombs and can max them out at 5. There are fewer enemies than on Normal. There are fewer obstacles than on Normal. There are no choices that create branching paths on Easy. You’ll get to see the complete ending, but the final screen will tell you to try the Normal mode.
Normal – Ackman begins with a 4-unit Life Bar. He begins with 1 bomb and can max them out at only 3. There are more obstacles to overcome, including sinking platforms in the water sub-stage, spinning ‘ball ‘n chains,’ collapsing bridges, extending and falling spikes, and a darkening pyramid in Stage 3 (Godon carries a torch for Ackman, and if you get too far away from him, the screen will go dark – this doesn’t happen on Easy). There are more enemies, and they are often placed in more precarious locations than on Easy. There are also additional different enemies that are not found in the Easy mode, including the Bee in Stage 2 and the anthropomophic Ice Cream in Stage 3 (it’s out of place, even in this odd game, and hilarious). There are choices you can make (additional dialogue) that lead to different sub-stages on Normal. The first choice always leads to the sub-stage you play on Easy, and the second choice would be a sub-stage you have no access to while playing on Easy. The final screen after completing the game on Normal shows your total ‘Soul Points.’ I’m not sure if by perhaps hitting a certain total, perhaps there’s some reward or additional scene?
Items and Weapons: In each stage, either out in the open or sometimes in ‘hidden’ locations that you can discover with a bit of exploration, you’ll find various items to help Ackman. These include a Heart that replenishes one unit of Life, an Energy Drink that completely restores Ackman’s health, extra Bombs, and a single Extra Life. You’ll also find a Sword, a Boomerang, or a Gun. These weapons greatly enhance Ackman’s attack range, and each one acts as an additional health unit (you’ll lose the weapon after a hit, but you won’t lose a health unit). Lastly, you’ll occasionally find a Skull icon that grants you invincibility for 5 or 6 seconds – you can just run right through enemies!
Gameplay: You’ll run, jump, and attack your way through each of the 5 Levels. *You can jump on the heads of smaller grounded enemies and then kick them as well (think Mario jumping on a Koopa). Each Level has a mid-boss (or two) before the primary Boss. Along the way, with each enemy you defeat, Godon will snatch their ‘soul,’ and after you reach 100, you’ll gain an extra life. You have unlimited Continues, but you’ll go back to the beginning of a Level’s sub-stage when you die, or if you lose all of your lives (you begin with 3 lives) and choose to continue. Some sub-stages have you riding in a vehicle of some kind. As you learn how the game works, you’ll often get to an end-of-level Boss and lose, and then have to replay that Level’s final sub-stage before getting another crack at the Boss. Memorization and classic ‘trial and error’ are a part of this game.
Hints: Go! Go! Ackman is not overly difficult, but I did die repeatedly on the 3rd through 5th Levels many times as I was learning their layouts and Boss patterns. Particularly, Level 5 took me a while to beat because the last Boss was tough at first – now he’s a piece of cake. Like most games of this nature, with a little perseverance you can dominate the game easily. However, here are some hints that may help you:
- Extended Life Bar – If you beat the first Boss, a giant wolf, quickly, you’ll get an extra unit of life or two (an extension to your life bar). You need to beat him with 176 seconds or more left on the Timer. You’ll lose one extension every time you die, but this greatly helps. I couldn’t make this happen with the other bosses even when I beat them quickly, but it may be possible.
- Re-spawning Bombs and Hearts – In each level, you’ll encounter enemies who will drop Hearts or Bombs. Instead of picking up just one, however, if you head back to your left, then back again, the enemy will re-spawn and still drop the item when defeated. It’s a great way to max out your Bombs or Life Bar.
- Use the Sword for a quick defeat of Doradoran – The Level 3 Boss, a huge red dragon named Doradoran, can be easily dispatched if you make it to the battle with the Sword. Simply dash up to him and jump and whap him in the nose several times and he’ll be toast before he can even get an attack off! The alternative here is to use your jetpack and fly up and kick him, which is much, much harder because he breathes fire. *You should also have the sword for the fight with Tenshi and jump up and whack him a few times at the start of the fight.
- Use the Gun on Michaela and Armor Michaela – In the final sub-stage of Level 5, learn the location of the Gun and ensure you bring it to the last two Boss fights. You’ll dispatch Michaela and Armor Michaela much easier. Also, at first, the last fight against Armor Michaela appears to be really difficult – it’s not, at all. Quickly see how his 3 attacks work, and jump up to the left hand platform when you can and blast away with the Gun after using all your Bombs. Hop down if he gets too close, then hop back up when he moves to the right side of the screen to blast him again (also don’t forget to use your projectile attack – hold, then release Y – if you get hit and lose the gun).
The Southern Gentleman’s Opinion and Letter Grade:
Go! Go! Ackman is highly addictive. Controlling Ackman is spot on, and the platforming is easy at times, but requires you to memorize patterns and locations as you get further into the game. As you learn where enemies and pits are in each Level, you’ll often take hits or lose a life, but once you play each Level a few times, it becomes a breeze. The game is much easier on Easy because of the extended Life Bar and fewer enemies and obstacles, so try that first. By the time you can beat the game on that mode, you’ll be ready for Normal. *Beating the bosses doesn’t require any more hits, regardless of the mode you’re on.
The characters and dialogue are what set this game apart from other Platformers. Go! Go! Ackman is hilarious. The exchanges in the cutscenes are quite memorable and build the story well. I should note, there is some language (usually by the two primary ‘angels,’ interestingly), including the ‘S’ word a couple of times, but nothing worse than that. In this game, however, the use of language makes since within its context, and, although I have not read the manga, I wouldn’t be surprised if it probably had mild language like this. I would rate the game PG-13 in that regard. Game Rating: A
*Final Note on the sequels: I previously owned and played the sequel, Go! Go! Ackman 2 (of which there is no English-translated version as of June 2018), but I didn’t particularly enjoy it. It was far more difficult from the first Level, and that frustrating difficulty continued throughout the game – it wasn’t the same as the frustration from the difficult parts of the first game either. In Go! Go! Ackman, I wanted to keep playing to improve, but in Go! Go! Ackman 2, the difficulty just felt cheap and did not encourage improvement. There is also a second sequel, Go! Go! Ackman 3, which I have not yet played. I have read elsewhere, however, that it is much akin to the original game rather than 2. There is no translated version of Go! Go! Ackman 3 as of June 2018. But here’s hoping!!!