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A retro publisher is updating Ikki, which literally defined the bad yet fun game

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Reviewing the video game Ikki in the mid-1980s, Jun Miura coined a new word: kusoge, literally meaning crap game—or in modern translation: "shit game." Kusoge became a rallying cry of gamers ever since, used in Japan as a widespread label for the games they loved to hate. The games so bad, so janky, that they somehow became good. In the 40 years since, bad games have become an art form. (opens in new tab)

Ikki was bad, let me be clear. You were in charge of leading a one or two man peasant rebellion against your abusive samurai overlords against ninjas. It was a bullet hell where you couldn't see where you were going, were painfully slow, couldn't aim your weapon, and where powerups sometimes made you worse.

Despite Jun Miura's scathing criticism, Ikki went on to do well enough on Nintendo consoles and at arcades that it's remembered now quite fondly by Japanese audiences. Ikki went on to be translated and released internationally as either Boomerang or Farmer's Rebellion, depending on region.

Now original Ikki publisher Sunsoft is bringing back Ikki in a revised release called Ikki Unite, set to release on Steam before the end of 2022. Sunsoft hopes Ikki Unite will be closer to the original design vision of Ikki, primarily by expanding its previous two cooperative players to 16, letting you stage a proper peasant uprising. So get ready to fight monkeys and locusts and ninjas with clubs, sickles, and bamboo spears.

"It's a game that can be enjoyed by a large group or a small number of people," says Sunsoft. For my money, it does have an element of currently-quite-popular games like Vampire Survivors to it.

There are other games that Sunsoft is bringing forward in the next few years. That includes Gimmick! in 2022, which is an adorable if famously difficult platformer, and an update of metroidvania Uforia The SAGA to release in early 2023. They'll both come to Steam.

You can find Ikki Unite on Steam (opens in new tab), where it's recruiting beta testers.

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.