Within the past couple of years, Kunio keeps finding new ways to charm western audiences. Whether he's an athlete or brawler, you know that there's some solid old-school fun to be had so let's take a trip to Tokyo and see what he's up to.
As a fan of all things Kunio-kun, I was very excited when I heard that Tokyo Rumble was on its way here. I must say, the wait sure was worth it! This addition to the much beloved series is basically a new take on the classic River City Ransom. It may seem like just a port at first, but the gameplay is actually better than ever. For example, whereas the original lacked notable boss fights, you'll find plenty here. Also, platforming is no longer a pain and the controls are incredibly tight. For the unfamiliar, River City games usually consist of street brawls where you fight through screens filled with thugs. You punch, kick, and jump your way to victory while picking up items (and enemies) and either throw them or use them as weapons. It's great beat 'em up fun in its simplest form.
River City: Tokyo Rumble looks awesome with the classic character sprites intact and well implemented 3D environments. However, the two best parts of its presentation are the music and the ridiculous sense of humour. Watching Kunio and his carefree attitude in class where he insists on calling his teacher "babe" and leaves school early to beat up some gang members will make anyone laugh out loud. There are tons of references such as characters saying "Barf!" which should be familiar to anyone who played River City Ransom. I haven't played a game that made me laugh this much in a long time. The soundtrack consists of tunes from previous games in the series (including the original Renegade theme). It's nostalgic, catchy, and makes the gameplay so much more enjoyable.
River City Ransom was famous for mixing RPG elements into the beat 'em up formula yet Tokyo Rumble goes above and beyond in this regard. Not only can you buy and equip accessories that provide boosts and learn new abilities by reading scrolls, you can also level up as you gain experience points from taking out enemies. You'll also acquire a wealth of gold and gang badges that you can either collect or sell at stores. Learning an arsenal of special moves has never been so satisfying as you slowly watch Kunio's move list expand thus allowing him to duke it out with the best. All of these elements make the campaign incredibly addictive. On top of that, you'll also come across the odd mini-game such as basketball that act as enjoyable little distractions. There's so much to see and do. Thankfully, you can take the train to various districts whenever you wish so you can explore and complete side-quests more efficiently.
Although I find this entry in the series to be a huge improvement, it does have its issues. My biggest complaint is that you can't play Story mode cooperatively with a friend. That was a big part of what made River City Ransom special. That being said, there are two bonus modes that you can play with a pal via either Download or Local play. Rumble mode is basically a battle royal brawl while Dodgeball mode is the same thing except with balls. You can catch balls when your opponents launch them at you but it's nothing like Kunio's previous Super Dodge Ball game. Finally, after you complete the campaign and dink around in these two modes a bit, there really isn't anything else to do. However, the amount of fun you'll have playing through the story still makes it a worthy experience.
River City: Tokyo Rumble is not only a fantastic game for existing Kunio-kun fans, it'll also appeal to any gamer looking for satisfying old-school beat 'em up gameplay set in a humorous world full of loveable characters. It's so fun that it'll make you "Barf!"
- + Beat 'em up gameplay is better than ever
- + Awesome music and a cast of characters who are absolutely hilarious to watch
- + Additional RPG elements make it addictive
- - You can't play Story mode cooperatively
- - Dodgeball mode is the same as Rumble mode except with balls
- - Not much to do after you finish it