A quirky lost Sega game that sometimes feels like a proto-WarioWare and is rendered less interesting by Japanese text.
When Ichidant-R was announced as part of the Sega Ages series on Nintendo Switch, I had no idea what in the heck this game was. The Japan-only arcade and Mega Drive game debuted in 1994 and never saw the light of day in America, until now. Quirky and bizarre, Ichidant-R is an intriguing historical oddity that is, aside from some missing localization for core modes, a decent addition to the Switch’s deepening retro library. At a very basic level, this is Sega’s proto-WarioWare game.
Gameplay is primarily based around short mini-games that test your reflexes and wrinkle your brain. Some are more complicated than others, with examples including counting the number of swimming creatures and moving frogs around lily pads to solve a logic puzzle. 20 games are present with a variety of instances, so while you might repeat a game, you won’t repeat specific problems. The basic arcade mode is cute and while it can get difficult, an optional helper mode makes it a little gentler.
While Ichidant-R debuted in arcades, it also came to home consoles. The remnant of the Mega Drive port is found here in the RPG-inspired Quest Mode and a novel multiplayer board game option. Unfortunately, all of this is in Japanese. There isn’t much of a way to work your way through this unless you know how to read the language. I was able to stumble my way into the Quest Mode and the board game variant, but the only way an English-only reader would know what to do is with experience in the arcade game, so the multiplayer element here is functionally useless. The Quest Mode is also made worse because, well, RPGs are reliant on text to make sense. I’m confused as to why this mode is void of localization.
Ichidant-R comes as a gigantic bummer despite being a super neat and novel game that I never knew about before this release. The mini-games are enjoyable and the aesthetics are neat, but the fact that the Mega Drive options, including an RPG-lite mode and a multiplayer board game, are completely in Japanese renders those enticing options as non-starters. Unless you’re looking for a reason to try to learn some Japanese, this is hard to recommend, even if the basic arcade mode (that’s actually in English) is enjoyable.