Every so often a game comes along that makes you take your thumb off the fire button and don your thinking cap. But who wants to have to spend a lot of time thinking just to get through a game, you say? Well one thing that stands abundantly clear from playing Sutte Hakkun is that gamers are generally going to either love this game or hate it. It presents one of the most unique and innovative puzzle/platforming experiences ever found in a video game, with its simplistically easy controls only being overshadowed by the mind-bending puzzles found in each and every insane level throughout the game. As much fun as the game is, however, later levels will feel more like a college thesis than a video gaming experience and you'd better hope that you haven't destroyed too many brain cells if you have any hopes of ever beating this brain buster.
The premise of Sutte Hakkun is quite simple: you take on the role of the drinking bird Hakkun, and, using your pointed beak, you must suck in various blocks, move them to where you want them, and then spit them out. You can also suck in coloured Nectars and inject the translucent blocks with it. These various coloured Nectars each have their own unique characteristics: Red Nectar will make the blocks move up and down, Blue Nectar will make them move side to side, and Yellow Nectar will make them move in a diagonal direction. It's trying to figure out these combinations that will prove to be the biggest challenge in reaching the Rainbow Shard that's intricately placed somewhere in each level. Your job is to locate all of the Rainbow Shards that are strung across the island and reconstruct the shattered Rainbow of Happiness thus restoring peace to the land. Sounds simple, right?
Hakkun the drinking bird can walk left and right and can also jump a short distance into the air. The only problem is that the game generally places the platforms too far out of reach – this is where the translucent blocks come into play. You'll have to move them around by sucking them in and then spitting them out in the location where they can help you access areas you normally couldn't reach. You must then figure out which colour of Nectar to use in order to get the correct movements needed from these blocks. As if this wasn’t enough, you'll also have a creature called a Makkun that can be used in addition to the blocks. These Makkun can also be injected with Nectar and given special characteristics in much the same way the Nectar affects the blocks. The early stages will give you a nice smooth introduction as to how the game plays, but as the levels increase, so too does the challenge in completing them.
The control in Sutte Hakkun is super smooth and is perfectly built for the type of action that you'll encounter in each level. Once you get a handle on the mechanics, the game plays like a well-oiled machine. You can also pull up the submenu if you're stuck and don't know how to solve a level and it will provide you hints to help you out. This should really only be used as a last resort, as figuring out the levels is really the whole point of the game's enjoyment.
The visuals in the game are sharp, but not detailed – that's not what this game is about. The colours are all very vibrant and the use of the translucent characters, enemies, and blocks provides a strong contrast that makes these vibrant colours stand out even more. Sure, there's no fancy Mode-7 effects or rotating polygons to marvel at, but you'll be too busy trying to figure out how to reach the Rainbow Shard in each level to worry about the lack of visual flair anyway.
The music and sound effects in Sutte Hakkun are almost as eccentric as the visuals. They're all very upbeat and happy tunes, and the way they seem to blend into the background keeps them from ever becoming too repetitive, even when you find yourself stuck on the same level for long periods of time. The sound effects are subtle as well, yet they're perfectly implemented and fit the game's theme like a glove. It's clear that a lot of time and effort were spent figuring out how to approach the audio/visual presentation of this unique puzzler and this extra effort really paid off in the end product.
Gamers expecting a serious platforming experience might want to try this one out before shelling out the cash it costs to own this unique Super Famicom title. It's not the type of game that will appeal to just anyone and given that the game is quite rare and generally sells for over $80 on eBay, it's not a game you'll want to just buy on a whim. That being said, it’s a total blast from start to finish, and with over 100 levels, you'll get every penny of your money's worth out of this one. In the end it's hard to tell which is ultimately more difficult – finishing the game, or putting it down.