Take one look at River City: Tokyo Rumble, and you’ll realize that it harkens back to old school beat-em-ups, with a blend of 3D environments and 8-bit sprites ripped straight from the NES. It’s the newest entry of the long-running action adventure series Kunio-Kun series (River City Ransom in the states) to make it overseas, and features the return of high school bad boy Kunio as he punches and kicks his way through waves of high school bullies and gang members in order to face off against a new threat. But are old school brawling mechanics with a fresh coat of paint good enough for players to revisit the world of River City once again?
River City: Tokyo Rumble
Developed by Arc System Works / Published by Natsume
Available on the Nintendo 3DS.
*Review code provided by Natsume
River City: Tokyo Rumble puts players in the shoes of brawler extraordinaire Kunio as the town of River City gets invaded by a new mysterious gang. Seeking to deliver old-school justice, Kunio teams up with other fierce and powerful friends and searches high and low throughout the streets in order to take the fight to the mysterious new menace.
The story is old school and campy, and it is also tons of fun, reminiscent of the humorous, action packed original NES adventures that had players run around and beat the crap out of rival high schoolers and gang members. The dialogue is silly and entertaining, the characters are colorful and action non-stop. It’s a good time.
The gameplay is also very fun, bringing back the mechanics and action that made the series so popular in the first place. Players guide Kunio through the city and its various sectors from a 2D perspective, and punch, kick, grab and use various weapons lying in the street to beat the daylights out of anyone who steps in his way. Kicking butt and taking names is simple as can be and the controls are excellent, and when buddies are in tow, players can also issue simple commands to have them assist, fight, or step back, added some simple strategy to the mix.
In order to break with the straightforward structure, the game also brings back the light RPG elements that it’s known for, such as players leveling up and increasing both their health and power, stores that sell items that will boost Kunio’s stats if equipped, teach him new skills and attacks, or heal him and his buddies if his health is low, and jobs that reward players with cash and items if completed. The RPG elements are as entertaining as ever and keep the game from getting repetitive, and also give players options on how to tackle the game.
Being on the 3DS, the game also comes with a couple of features for the second screen. Players can equip items or use them at any time, check out Kunio and co.’s stats, check out pending jobs and use the map. While some are useful, the map is pretty awful and confusing, only making reference to what town the player is at, rather than showing where and how to get to places. Players will end up having to learn routes by memory rather than having to rely on the map, because it’s pretty bad.
River City: Tokyo Rumble also comes with two other gameplay modes to entertain once the main adventure is done. The first is Rumble, which is a multiplayer arena where players duke it out, and the other is Dodgeball, which allows up to four to compete and hurl balls at each other until one is left standing. Both modes can be played alone or with friends, and while entertaining aren’t deep enough to hold interest for very long.
River City: Tokyo Rumble is ultimately a fun, simple and old-school brawler. While it isn’t perfect and the secondary modes don’t entertain as much as the main campaign, it’s an enjoyable experience that fans of the classics will enjoy.