Review – Ikki Unite

I love when bigger publishers notice the success and profit created by smaller indie projects, and then decide to blatantly copy them. It almost feels like when your dad starts listening to the rock bands you like; you know it’s when what was once a novel concept has finally become boring and overly copied. It was only but a matter of time before someone else decided to copy the winning Vampire Survivors formula. I just wasn’t expecting for said company to be Sunsoft, and for them to tie it to what’s essentially their most infamous intellectual property.

Ikki Unite gameplay

Run around, avoid enemies, hope that your characters decide to throw their projectiles at other enemies, rinse, and repeat.

You may be wondering… Sunsoft? The Fester’s Quest guys? The ones behind Blaster Master and the NES Batman game? They’re still around? Yeah, somehow. I don’t particularly understand if this Sunsoft is still the same old company from back in the 90s or just a shell donning the cape of a formerly defunct company, but here we are today: Sunsoft is back, and their first new outing is a brand new take on Ikki. The original kusoge. A game so infamous for its crappiness, Sunsoft itself likes to brag about its legacy as the OG “Japanese crappy game”. This is the game they decided to base a Vampire Survivors clone on.

Ikki Unite takes the setting and character roster of the original game (a bunch of doofuses living in a remote village in feudal Japan), gives them a unique set of skills and weapons, and throws them onto the same exact gameplay loop seen in Vampire Survivors: a near infinite onslaught of enemies to deal with, weapons and attacks being cast automatically, hordes, a top-down perspective, and so on. The main difference is the fact that, instead of a fixed time limit, you start off with just a few minutes’ worth for you to level up, find a boss, and kill said boss. Do so, and you’ll earn a few more minutes to reach the next boss. Rinse and repeat until you finally perish for good.

Ikki Unite visuals

Those visuals are beyond cheap.

Sure, it gets the job done when it comes to copying the foundations of a more successful game, but Ikki Unite is nowhere near as fun to play as Vampire Survivors. That’s a very obvious given, I know. Then again, it’s not bad per se. Even though it’s a sequel to a famously horrible game (one Sunsoft is bizarrely proud of), this is just a bang average game with some questionable design choices and underwhelming presentation.

The questionable design choices are mostly tied to the terrible character balancing. Some are great, and really fun to play as. Others feel like a chore. Your enjoyment will largely depend on which character you decide to play as. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing solo or online (though good luck finding players at this moment), pick up the offense-oriented characters in order not to fall asleep whilst playing Ikki Unite. As for the half a dozen differences between itself and Vampire Survivors, I do appreciate the additional minutes given after killing a boss.

Ikki Unite localization

Mind you, the game is playable in English. They just forgot to translate the character recruitment menus, somehow.

The presentation, on the other hand… nah mate, that’s cheap. Dare I say, somewhat unfinished. Really basic visuals, poor animations, and a nonsensically repetitive usage of every asset all make Ikki Unite look almost like a joke. Hell, they didn’t even bother translating some of the menus: whenever you find a merchant that allows you to summon an ally, said menu will be in Japanese, basically turning the pivotal moment of adding a new character to your team into a sadistic round of Russian Roulette. You could be summoning a samurai or a fat lady throwing kisses at enemies. As for the music, it’s just a bunch of uninspired and repetitive Japanese tunes rendered in MIDI form. “Meh” is the perfect summary for Ikki Unite‘s presentation.

Ikki Unite bosses

The scariest and most legendary beast in all of feudal Japanese mythology: a blue boat. Take notes, developers of Nioh 3.

Ikki Unite is not very polished or well-balanced, but once you get into a good run, with a character that’s actually fun to play as, it’s hard to put the controller down. As a blatant clone of Vampire Survivors, it does manage to copy some of that game’s most appealing features. Sadly, there’s not a lot of creativity in display. It’s just that: yet another Vampire Survivors, but inferior. One that won’t exactly make you want to put the OG down anytime soon, unless you’re REALLY into pretty much anything featuring a feudal Japanese coat of paint.


Graphics: 5.5

Really basic visuals, poor animations, and repetitive usage of assets hinder Ikki Unite‘s presentation, but there’s still a bit of charm in its overall crappiness.

Gameplay: 7.5

It plays as well as a Vampire Survivors clone would. Controls are simple to learn, the gameplay is basic, but challenging. The cast of characters at your disposal is immense, but unbalanced as hell.

Sound: 5.0

Basic, classic Japanese-inspired tunes rendered in MIDI form, and underwhelming sound effects.

Fun Factor: 7.0

It is not a well-balanced game, but once you get into a good run, it’s hard to put the controller down. I wouldn’t recommend it over Vampire Survivors, but it’s still somewhat fun.

Final Verdict: 6.5

Ikki Unite is available now on PC.

Reviewed on Intel i7-12700H, 16GB RAM, RTX 3060 6GB.