Kunio-kun is back but this time, he's not in the spotlight as Kobayashi-san is the star of this new beat 'em up spin-off.
I've been playing and reviewing Kunio-kun games for years. In fact, I take pride in the fact that Video Chums is (probably) home to the most amount of Kunio-kun game reviews on the internet. After having enjoyed the recent River City Girls, I was itching to try out Stay Cool, Kobayashi-San! and I'm both happy and disappointed with the overall experience. The story takes place right after River City Ransom and you play as Masao Kobayashi who's on a mission to fix a disruption of the space-time continuum. He's joined by a Time Regulator named Mizoguchi and the 2 of them go on an adventure to stop the evil corporation behind it all as well as rescue Kobayashi's friend in the process. You can swap between both characters whenever and even play as Kunio if you want which is awesome, of course.
Stay Cool, Kobayashi-San! features rather simplistic gameplay as you tap 1 button to attack and use others to perform a special move, deploy special items, and jump. At first, I thought the gameplay was rather clunky and flat but once I experimented with various combinations of buttons and directions, I realised that the characters have an impressive amount of secret moves that you can unleash. For example, watching Kobayashi fly up after launching an enemy only to dash-kick them in the face and send them crashing back down to the ground is so much fun. Meanwhile, there's a special items gauge that fills as you play which allows you to summon an AI-controlled ally, heal, and receive boosts but it's a tad confusing to use because it greyed out after a while and became unusable and I'm still not entirely sure why. If you know why then please leave a comment below; I would greatly appreciate it!
Obviously, the River City games are much more enjoyable to play with a friend so thankfully, you can play Stay Cool, Kobayashi-San! via local co-op multiplayer. Doing so makes the action-packed gameplay a blast and as a result, I highly recommend this for any local multiplayer enthusiast. Anyway, I thoroughly appreciated the visuals in Stay Cool, Kobayashi-San! as they're retro-inspired yet delightful enough to not feel dated. Also, the fact that you're almost constantly listening to characters spout excited lines of dialogue in Japanese makes the world feel alive although it can be a bit much at times. I also wish I knew what they were saying.
Finally, allow me to discuss the downsides of Stay Cool, Kobayashi-San! First, the way its campaign is laid out is simply irritating. Basically, you randomly run around the game world until you defeat 30 of any kind of coloured foe then you fight their respective boss. This is not only repetitive and tedious; it also means that whenever you defeat 30 of an enemy type, you're constantly confronted with their boss so if it's a particularly annoying boss fight then you really don't have a choice but to take it on at that moment.
Speaking of which, everything is way too random. Every time you perish and start again, you're thrown into its procedurally generated world and basically have to wander around until something happens. Last but not least, I hate how you can easily fall down holes which instantly results in a game over. Sometimes, it's hard to work out what's a hole and even if you're well aware, you might accidentally perform a dash or jump attack that lands you square in the center of a hole thus resulting in your death.
Old-school beat 'em up fans will surely have some fun with Stay Cool, Kobayashi-San! but its repetitive and random nature definitely makes it an ultimately tedious and frustrating experience.
- + Satisfying beat 'em up gameplay with a nifty special items system
- + Playing cooperatively is a blast
- + Great retro visuals and Japanese voices
- - Irritating campaign layout
- - Everything is way too random
- - Falling down holes is very annoying