| paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Beat_em_up; loc=JPN] |
|Another Simple Series budget game from Tamsoft, developer of the remarkable O-Ane-Chan Bara (see entry 678). Kenka Joutou, in contrast, feels like the budget game that it is, but it isn't bad for all that. Babelfish translates the title as "Quarrel fine! Yankee school gang leader? 99 years in Showa in legend?"--rather obscure, to be sure, but it sounds rather reminiscent of "Hot-Blooded Downtown Story" (see entry 529), aka "River City Ransom" (see entry 538), doesn't it? Well okay, maybe it doesn't. But it is. A game about street gang fighting, I mean.|
Starting out from a humiliating incarceration, you and your pompadoured cell-mate go on a gang-cracking, fisticuff-laden rampage through the jail and out onto the streets. Two-bit thugs abound, usually in groups of two to six, while boss types come along every now and then to make things a little more interesting. The first boss, in the jail, a huge guy with a hammer or something, does this weird thing that initiates a mental (?) button-mashing contest between the two of you--if you mash fast enough, he takes a lot of damage from the feedback, then you beat him into the dirt.
Controls get the job done, but parts could have been better. I have no problem with the mildly-chain-comboing punch/kick buttons, and Block is there but who uses that anyway, but when you get to Jump you have a bit of trouble, because pressing kick while in midair, to do a jump-kick (shee!), jumps you again from midair, sorta, which makes it hard to aim the jump-kick. Then one of the shoulder buttons will lock on to an enemy, but you seem to move really slow while this is active, so I don't like it much. Oh, holding punch/kick, I forget which, will do a charge-up fire punch for hefty damage, and you'll want to remember to start charging this up after you knock someone down momentarily.
Fights go pretty quick and coins drop out of the baddies when they're beat. You can mash your way through the fodder, but bosses you'll want to exercise a little caution around, and I've met a few tricky chaps in between, like guys who can throw fireballs (hint: dodge). Once in a while you'll be able to pick up a pipe or nightstick that someone dropped, but these don't last long. Oh yeah, you can pick people up, and then throw them or hold them and use them to bash other people (recommended!).
The action is very cartoonish, complete with big kanji characters appearing over the action, like the BIFF and POW in comics. The characters themselves have an unusual sorta pear-shaped super-deformed style that gives the game a unique, if not incredibly attactive, look. The environments are decently detailed though the walls can be a bit blockish, and the framerate stays solid but the draw-distance for characters is pretty short, so you'll often be running down an empty road only to have thugs fade in a few yards in front of you.
There seems to be some kind of story but thankfully you can skip the little cinematic bits (boring) and skip right to the next section of action. I've played through to near the end of the second level so far, I think, and it's been mostly enjoyable if fairly unexceptional beat-em-up action. Having the NPC pal along adds some variety, oh and you can have him activate a sorta adrenaline burst state where he goes nuts on people for a while. Between levels you raise certain skills automatically, not sure what they are, and you can arrange what looks like inventory slots, but I didn't have anything in them yet. So while it definitely has the simple look of a budget title, there seems to be a fair amount of action here.
At one point in level one there's a little puzzle to unlock a door in the jail: you approach a console and have to pick from one of eight or so options in Japanese text. I seem to be able to get through that okay by just trying all of them, but hopefully there aren't any more complex language puzzles later on.