| paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Beat_em_up; loc=JPN] |
|Port of the arcade beat-em-up "Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-Kun," which means something like "Hot-Blooded Bad-Ass Kunio," or something. This was, according to people who should know, really the first game in what we can properly call the beat-em-up genre. The developer, Technos Japan, would take many of the elements established here and turn them into famous games like River City Ransom (see entry 529) and Double Dragon (see entry 353).|
This game is difficult. I can barely beat the first level, which is just a single band of thugs in a small subway station. The game gives you a really strict time limit per stage, and only one life, which can get whittled away in a hurry if you let the baddies surround you. This happens easily, because the AI routines are exceedingly tenacious and ruthless, to the point where they trail your movements exactly, just out of hit range, and when you finally engage one, another always loops around to come up behind you.
Perhaps this is why Technos came up with the left/right attack button scheme seen later (earlier, in my case) in Double Dragon II: The Revenge (entry 505). This game has three buttons: attack left, jump/jump-kick, and attack right. Attack left throws punches to the left if your first foe is on your left; if you're already attacking someone on your right, attack left throws a back-kick to the left. Attack right does the same, only with the reversed directions. Sounds weird but it works pretty well, especially when you get flanked as much as you do here.
I have a lot of trouble using the Jump/jump-kick button. Jump on its own doesn't seem to do anything useful, really, and jump-kick is hard to use (you have to double-tap left or right to start running, then press Jump), doesn't do an incredible amount of damage, and leaves you stuck in a landing animation for a second or so.
You can grab and throw people that you've stunned with punches, although the throw is kind of slow, and you'll often get hit out of it as you're trying to initiate it. You can sit on people you've knocked down (except bosses--they just throw you off) and punch them repeatedly. And you can double-tap to run, then throw a punch for a kind of running clothesline thing. And that pretty much covers it; there don't appear to be any weapons you can use, or anything like that.
There's slowdown (I presume this is emulated from the arcade version) when you have a bunch of baddies on-screen at the beginning of a stage.
Anyway, this game is hard. The time limit is so sharp in the first level that the only way I can hope to beat everyone without running out of time is to stand next to the convenient pit at one end of the platform, and try to throw as many people as I can off the platform to their doom. But then you still have to confront the boss, who you really can't take on one-on-one, 'cause he just plain out-punches you; only way I was able to beat him was to attack someone else first, let him sneak up on me, and back-kick him in the gut. Do this repeatedly and you might live through it all before that guy you're feinting an attack on bashes your face in.
Then I got to the second stage, finally, barely, and got run over repeatedly by guys on motorcycles. I guess you probably have to jump-kick them off or something, but man. Ouch.
The graphics are pretty rough, and the sounds, including the weird voice samples, are not all that great; it sounds like someone is squeezing ketchup when one of the guys in the first stage with a wooden sword hits you, for instance. The graphics here are scaled and fuzzy filtered, which is too bad; although you can scale the screen to whatever size you want, pretty much, the graphics never get un-fuzzy. I wonder if the game ran at a non-square pixel resolution? You can stretch the image to fill a 4:3 screen--the original was closer to 3:3, so normally you have small black bands down the side.
I was bummed about the 2-player situation: turns out that it is a trade-off type of thing, not a simultaneous co-op game. So two can sign up to play, but only one plays at a time. That must have been how the original was. Ah well.
When you consider that the first stage is hard as hell, and just consists of a small gang of three different sprites in a subway station, you can forecast that the game might be rather on the short and brief side for all but the most masochistic. This isn't far off for most of us. Hamster may have thought of that, and included a shocking amount of extras in this "Oretachi Game Center" release of theirs, including a mini-CD with the soundtrack (original tracks/sounds, and then an arranged track), a mini-DVD with superplay-style footage, among other things, and like three little collector card thingies that I've largely forgotten. Still, it's a lot of goods crammed into what we should remember is already a budget-priced title.
|Download added: stage2.gif (64593 bytes)|
"Ouch. Someone stop the train, I want to get off..."
Oh, forgot to mention: this was brought to the States back in the day with retooled sprites and stage art, under the name "Renegade."