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Review: Puzzle & Action Ichidant-R

A look into the wackier side of SEGA's arcade past

For me, the Sega Classics Collection on the PlayStation 2 was my introduction to a good chunk of SEGA’s arcade history. The collection had solid remakes of Virtua Racing and OutRun, alongside complete re-imaginings of games like Alien Syndrome, Space Harrier and Monaco GP.

But there is one reason this collection sticks out to me; it had introduced me to Puzzle & Action: Tant-R. A random arcade/Mega Drive title released around 1993, Tant-R was one of the most addicting games on the collection.

Hence, why I lost my mind when SEGA announced the sequel was coming to the Nintendo Switch as part of the SEGA Ages line.

A brief history

Released in 1994 for the SEGA C2 arcade board (same hardware as Thunder Force AC, and the original Puyo Puyo), Puzzle & Action: Ichidant-R was the first follow-up to the mini-game crazed formula.

Tant-R and Ichidant-R are very similar in gameplay. Originally a spinoff to Bonanza Bros., Tant-R is a two-to-four-player minigame fest, games akin to the WarioWare series.

In the first game, you were chasing after criminals from Bonanza Bros., arresting perps through winning games/solving puzzles, and in Ichidant-R, you’re basically sent back into medieval times to do more of the same, with wacky games a plenty in tow.

A good ol’ SEGA mini-game bonanza!

The way the stages work in Ichidant/Tant-R are pretty simple, you have a boss for that stage, which you get to by clearing mini-games brought up by said boss’ lackeys. They aren’t super long though, ranging about four to six mini-games per stage, with a bonus stage after to collect points and lives.

The real meat and potatoes of this game is the types of mini-games on display. You have wacky and out there games, like counting passengers on a train and another where you must stop a car before it falls off a cliff. There’s also a bizarre UFO shooter that plays the Daytona USA music in the background. I’d give some explanations on some of them, but that’s a lot of ground to cover. Thankfully, every mini-game has a tutorial on how the game is played before you start.

This Switch port is pretty much 1:1 with the arcade, even including some bonuses. Besides standard Arcade version, this port includes the Mega Drive port of Ichidant-R, as well.

Released a couple of months after the arcade version, the Mega Drive port adds a couple of substantial extras to add some longevity to the original game. Included inside is a four-player competitive mode, a free-play mode where you can practice any mini-game and an exclusive single player game.

The single-player game is a weird hybrid of a Japanese RPG. You gain experience through random gauntlets of mini-games while exploring. It’s not a full-scale RPG, but it’s a fun addition that adds something a bit different than the standard arcade mode.

A Japanese party for all!

Sadly, the Mega Drive version wasn’t translated to English and is in Japanese, but the online manual does a very good job of explaining how this port works.

One guaranteed plus of this game is the multiplayer. Ichidant-R stands on its own just fine, but the fun is doubled when playing in a group. Something about crazed mini-game showdowns with friends is always a good time, and Ichidant-R doesn’t fail in providing that in spades.

Some of the games can get super competitive, and some are just downright hilarious to watch. As much as the arcade mode and single player quest mode provide some gameplay, the multiplayer brings just as much to the table, and a damn good party game. This is definitely going to be a game I throw in the mix when friends are over. Not to mention that there is also an online mode, to take your Ichidant-R skills across the globe. 

Summary

All in all, I say SEGA Ages Ichidant-R is well worth it for the $7 it’s going for on the eShop. It’s a fun, wacky side of SEGA’s arcade history that never really got shown off over here in the US. The games are addicting, the premise is ridiculous, and it’s pick up and play style works out perfectly for the Switch.

The mileage you can get out of this game is pretty insane. Whether you’re going it solo in the Arcade mode or Quest mode, or going at it with some buddies, it’s a good time.  If you want to see more of SEGA’s fun side, Ichidant-R is a perfect place to start.

Pros

  • A good amount of single player modes to play through, and a decent amount of minigames to learn and figure out

  • Multiplayer makes for a really good time

Cons

  • No translation for the Mega Drive port kind of makes the Quest mode a moot point for US players
  • Some mini-games drag on a bit too much, alongside some repeating every once in a blue moon

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Jayson Lamp

Resident SEGA racer expert of sorts,been playing them since OutRunners. Writer of the Forgotten Racers series,among other things. Favorite SEGA series is Hang-On,and my favorite console is the Saturn. "Welcome to our exciting circuit. Do your best,and good luck!!"-Power Drift,1988

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