Takeshi and Hiroshi is unlike anything I have ever played before. Its a story game with some very interesting RPG mechanics. It’s available on Apple Arcade.
This game is all about the story. It’s super heartfelt and was just a joy to have told to me. The game is very short and can be played through in just a couple of hours. It's told through beautifully animated cutscenes. The developers call it puppet animation, and this is something I would love to see in more games.
The story follows two young brothers: Takeshi (14 years old) is the older brother who is an aspiring game developer, while his younger brother, Hiroshi (7 years old), is his biggest fan. The story opens up, and we find out that their father had passed away a few years ago, and since then Takeshi has taken on the father role to Hiroshi. Takeshi has been working on a game called Mighty Warrior and Hiroshi can not wait to try it. Unwanting to disappoint his younger brother, he agrees to let him play. However, the game is not fully functional yet. Takeshi tells Hiroshi that he is just going to do some homework while he plays, but in reality, Takeshi is actually controlling all the monsters in the game. That’s when the game turns over the controls to you for a very unique kind of game.
The gameplay here is nowhere near as strong as the storytelling, and animation that the cutscenes bring, but it is extremely unique. Hiroshi is playing the game from the hero side of things and you are controlling what obstacles he has to overcome. Each level consists of 5 rounds. At the start of each round, you select from a growing list of enemies that Takeshi has designed. You pick the order, and the amount of them, and then you watch as Hiroshi battles his way through the round.
This is a tough balancing act to advance. You have to throw just the right amount of enemies at Hiroshi. If you make it too easy, he gets bored, and his joy level will go down; if you throw too much his way, his character will perish. Both instances lead to a game over. The idea is to get the right amount of enemies to get Hiroshi’s health as close to zero as possible. As his health goes, down his stress level will go up; the higher the stress level, the more joy Hiroshi will get at the end of the level. Not how the real world works, but an interesting idea. Each round of 5 you have an increasing amount of joy that you need to reach to advance.
After a few rounds, this starts to get a little boring. You eventually get some moves Hiroshi can do, but it doesn’t add much variety. I found myself constantly struggling to find the balance needed to get to the end, leading to me using too many enemies, and causing Hiroshi to fail and get a game over. Once I got into a groove, and started to learn how many, and what enemies to use, it was not a fun mechanic. The charm of something new wore off quickly and then you were just left with a boring bare bones auto battler game.
The story is all about growing up. Takeshi is forced to grow up quickly to help take care of Hiroshi, but he has a lot more growing up to do, which we witness throughout this story. He wants to keep making new chapters for Hiroshi to play, but hits a development wall, and needs to swallow his pride and get some help from friends.
After enlisting the help of friends, he wants to finish the game with a payoff to help his brother. Every aspect of the game was to help Hiroshi grow and gain confidence; not just in playing the game but in real life. The idea they come up with deals with introducing a dragon. Before the character models are molded into Mighty Heroes, we see Takeshi’s drawings, which is a great personal touch to the story.
Takeshi and Hiroshi is a greatly told story that struggles with some lackluster gameplay. The story has a great amount of heart, and is told beautifully through its wonderful art style and animation. It’s worth struggling through the gameplay to have this story told to you. This one I give thumbs up and easily recommend this to anyone with Apple Arcade.
Final Score — 7.5/10 —