Beat 'em ups don't get more old-school than Double Dragon and Kunio-kun so let's revisit their NES roots in a fun new compilation.
I'm a big fan of Kunio-kun but I'm sure you know that if you've visited Video Chums before. So, imagine my delight now that I have the opportunity to play all of these classic games in one convenient package. Double Dragon & Kunio-kun: Retro Brawler Bundle contains 7 NES and 11 Famicom titles with 4 of the games being included for both consoles thus making the total number of unique games 14 which is still impressive. Plus, being able to see the region differences in Renegade, River City Ransom, Super Dodge Ball, and Crash 'n the Boys Street Challenge is a pretty cool addition for hardcore fans. Also, whereas many retro game compilations wouldn't bother translating long-lost Japanese exclusives, all of the games are fully translated here which is just awesome.
This collection not only contains a bunch of brawlers, it features a load of Kunio-kun sports games, too. Although the variety is excellent, I wish this bundle included SNES and arcade titles because those would have been incredible additions, especially the Super Famicom Kunio-kun games considering they're extremely rare to come across in the west. I would have also liked to see more museum-style content as all you get is short write-ups for each game. On the plus side, there's a wealth of options and features included here. The most notable of which is the "Quality Up" versions of most of the games which reduce lag and flickering, fix bugs, and enhance the gameplay in various ways. There are also 4 suspend save slots for each game, the ability to change controls, brief manuals for every title (which could use some fleshing out), and a few display and sound settings. Finally, the unique wallpapers for each game are a nice touch.
Beat 'em ups
First, we have the 3 NES Double Dragon games which need little explanation because they're quite popular. It's odd that the Famicom versions aren't included but I digress. Double Dragon is a bona fide classic and my favourite of the 3 while Double Dragon II: The Revenge is fun but has weird controls where you tap which direction to attack instead of punch or kick. Meanwhile, Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones is one of the hardest games ever and as a result, it's rather difficult to enjoy unless you love a brutal challenge or don't mind reloading your save every 15 seconds. Overall, it's a solid trilogy of beat 'em ups and they're a lot of fun to play with a friend.
Next, the Kunio-kun games; the first of which being Renegade (AKA Nekketsu Renegade Kunio-kun) which definitely shows its age with its frustrating and clunky gameplay but it's cool to be able to experience the origins of Kunio-kun. River City Ransom (AKA Downtown Nekketsu Story) is the game that most retro gamers know and love and for good reason as it combines co-op beat 'em up gameplay, RPG elements, and an open world beautifully. That formula continues with Downtown Special Kunio-kun's Historical Period Drama! which has you wander around historic Japan as you take on your rivals. Lastly, we have Nekketsu Fighting Legend which is a 4 player arena fighting game. If you've ever played the modern River City Melee: Battle Royal Special then it should be very familiar.Arcade Archives: Renegade Review River City Ransom Review
Last but certainly not least, here's a bunch of Kunio-kun sports games! Let's look at the individual sports first. Super Dodge Ball (AKA Nekketsu High School Dodgeball Club) is the most famous title as many folks such as myself remember playing it back in the good old NES days and it's an absolute blast with friends. Nekketsu High School Dodgeball Club - Soccer Story (which released in the west as Nintendo World Cup yet that version is not available here) is a pretty fun soccer game but Kunio-kun's Nekketsu Soccer League is included here as well and it's a much-improved iteration that features awesome weather effects and more enjoyable gameplay. Finally, Go-Go! Nekketsu Hockey Club Slip-and-Slide Madness plays a lot like the soccer games but it's hockey and Nekketsu! Street Basketball All-Out Dunk Heroes is a crazy basketball game with 3 nets stacked vertically so you can score multiple times with one well-executed throw.
There are also 2 sports compilations here. Downtown Nekketsu March Super-Awesome Field Day! contains 4 sports in the form of cross country races, obstacle course races, ballbreak, and martial arts. If this sounds familiar to you then you've probably played River City Super Sports Challenge: All Stars Special which includes the exact same mini-games. They're fairly enjoyable but just like with a lot of games in this bundle, the learning curve can be quite steep so I wish there were additional instructions or tutorials included. Anyway, Crash 'n the Boys Street Challenge (AKA Surprise! Nekketsu New Records! The Distant Gold Medal) is a collection of 5 different mini-games and you can read all about those in my full review. In short, it's a lot of frantic fun, especially if you can get 4 players together.Arcade Archives: Super Dodge Ball Review Crash 'n the Boys Street Challenge Review
Seeing as it's such a comprehensive collection, Double Dragon & Kunio-kun: Retro Brawler Bundle is a must-have for fans of 8-bit brawlers and sports games. It may not appeal to modern gamers as much as other collections do but that doesn't make it any less special.
- + Great collection of NES / Famicom beat 'em ups and sports games
- + Enhanced quality for most games
- + Plenty of options and cool features
- - Learning curve can be too steep with few instructions and no tutorials
- - Only contains NES / Famicom games
- - Missing museum-style content