Breaking the Narrative Episode 73: Around We Go Again! Breaking A Review of River City Rival Showdown!


As I’ve been talking about for the past month or so, back in November of last year (oddly enough released an exact year to the day I had this review published,) river City Rival Showdown was released stateside by Arc System Works. If you are big in the gaming scene you’ve probably heard as of late they were the ones developing the game Dragonball FighterZ and the like. They’ve also been developing most of the recent Kunio-Kun titles for Natsume who own the rights to this franchise as well as most Technos Japan properties. This is a name you should know well if you are a long lived gamer. Why do I bring this up now? Because it goes along with the theme of the past few articles I’ve done since I came off my hiatus: The issues of men having to deal with adversity carte blanche!

How do delinquents and bullying relate to dealing with adversity? By being the core of the process! How we deal with those who force confrontation upon us helps to shape us as people. Conflict engenders growth by its very nature. There are several reasons why many East Asian religions have some deity based around the cycles of creation and destruction at the very core of their faiths. For the Hindu its Shiva, for Shinto its Hachiman (the god of war), even Buddhism’s Karma is based around this very concept if you look at it plainly. The point is, in this review I’m going to go over the entire story (including the secret second game) and cover how Kunio’s journey through this remake of the seminal beat-em-up classic River City Ransom (Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari or the Downtown Hot-Blooded Tale/ダウンタウン熱血物語). This has been your spoiler warning. Now if you are ready, Let’s Hammer This In!

This game is rebuilt from the ground up using the engine developed for Tokyo Rumble in a distinctly scaled down map that removes the need for the shinkansen stations from the prior game in favor for taxi driven fast travel. The game starts with a moonlit walk alone the night before its events take place. At this point our lead, Kunio, is confronted by two “mysterious” attackers, which anyone familiar with the series will recognize as the Dragon Twins Ryuichi and Ryuji Hattori, in this iteration taking on their original River City monikers of Randy and Andy. They are the only ones in the entire cast to do that. After one of those “You can’t win” battles the police start coming and you and your friends who come to help bail you out run off to return to school for the first of a total of 4 days of gameplay.

This is where time progression comes in. You have 4 days to help series staple and rival Riki to save his girlfriend Mami. As such she is made missing 3 different times throughout the term of the game. The first time around is a false alarm. The second time one of the lower rivals came and abducted her to protect her from the real villain of this tale. Finally the real villain of the tale comes in and takes her. Why? To bring Kunio to him for a fit of revenge! Why not go after Kunio’s girlfriend? Because in this revision Kunio doesn’t have one. He has girls interested in him surely but he personally doesn’t choose one of them throughout this game as he cares quite little for such pursuits, preferring to spend his energy on practicing his combat routine and sports prowess. He shows himself as a pure-hearted delinquent who puts the well-being of his friends and classmates above any other pursuit. He is their stalwart protector, their ‘Batman’ if you will. So much so that regardless of your ability in the game that was released in the states as Renegade, early on, he is seen as “The legend who has taken on the Yakuza and won!” That is a review for another time.

You find going through the first day your movement is restricted immensely. Until 6PM in game time, two major map connections and an entire back street are cut off, funneling you to cut your teeth on the first few events. This is also when you notice in addition to street gangs and random thugs you’ll have students from other schools randomly attack you. Many of them are seemingly in a trance. This becomes very important later. It also needs to be said that you can just choose to go around and fight, but if you do that you’ll get either the bad or the variant ending; bad if you do absolutely nothing but goof off and build up until the ‘battle day,’ variant if you do a few of the right things but not all of them. Another ending is the Weird ending. To get this you have to go through a very specific series of events separate from the main story. I’ll leave this to you to find because it has no bearing on this review.

After 7:00PM on the first day you should be getting the first events to not only secure allies in your peacekeeping quest but clues to the dark events going on behind the scenes. It is once night falls that you meet Shinoda, a former student of the main rival Reiho Academy. It’s through him that you learn the school’s background and politics along with the darkness that has infested it since his graduation. You also find out he was unable to enter college and has to work a fairly rough job which has led him to consistent alcoholism and other classmates of his to become escorts at the neighboring night club.

Day 2 has you meeting with a defector from the Big Four of Reiho’s leadership to get more information so you can more seriously start on the quest proper. You start off with relatively the weakest in the form of Taira and his group, ones that primarily use deceptive tactics to get their way. You take the following two hours of game time (20 minutes) concentrating on him. This also leads to you defusing a conflict between your friendly rival’s school and another. The last half of the day is concentrated on an initial defeat of the remaining Big Four who each work on differing tactics ranging from more direct conflict to a full maze of combat. In the end this leads to you freeing Riki’s girlfriend for the first time.

Before cries of ‘muh damsel in distress’ come in from feminist ideologues, not only is Mami a childhood friend of Kunio and Hasebe (a sukeban – female delinquent) but a strong enough character to see through the harsh exterior that Riki puts forward to see his kind soul. This is something you can learn from the game’s internal character encyclopedia at nearly any time after you meet her. Here is the fun catch as well: Hasebe, while being friends and allies to Kunio, is actually the girlfriend of the game’s true villain, not just due to Kunio’s disinterest in dating but because she genuinely likes the cold-blooded douchebag. But we’ll cover that more later.

For Day 3 you finish up your investigations and meet with one of the escorts that you actually met on the first day in a blackmail attempt. This is when you fight Makoto – the first character of the game to be brainwashed by the Reiho student council president you’ve been finding out about throughout the game named Yamada. Yamada is also a childhood friend of Kunio’s, one who got jealous of his popularity and innate talents. After completing the good ending of the game you unlock his story and can play through taking control of the schools in the area. However, it’s also revealed that Yamada’s ultimate goal isn’t so much the school power alone but the pyramid scheme he runs through the schools, Selling ‘party tickets,’ a variation of the protection racket the mob used to be infamous for, where insane amounts of money are pulled from non-delinquents throughout the country straight to Yamada himself.

The motivation to do this for Yamada is to show up his former friend Kunio and to ruin his good reputation for good, finally be considered the top dog and get that recognition he felt he was long denied. If you look at the infiltration and bullying strategies Yamada and his underlings use throughout the game to coax people into submitting to them you can see some of the typical SJW tactics combined with the physical violence typical of Antifa. The main difference here is you can and do fight back. This is because in Yankii culture Kunio is a Bancho – a specific type of delinquent leader who embodies the code of honor for their group. Not every gang of delinquents have or follow the rules of a bancho but those that do end up being some of the most disciplined and respected delinquents you’d find in the subculture. I know its weird to equate discipline and delinquency but in these cases their dedication to being some of the best combatants that can at times even be considered for yakuza positions is a matter of respect in some areas of Japan.

This is exemplified in the game where part of the legend behind Kunio is a mention of Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-Kun – the first game in the series. This game has it to where Kunio ends the plans of Yakuza that you end up having faced in Tokyo Rumble. This goes into something that not only links what we are discussing in this game with the concept of bullying as a whole but something that we deal with in any and all aspects of social interaction: Reputation. Your reputation can make or break you depending on what you are aiming for. The Southern Poverty Law Center makes millions of dollars in donations by using the reputation they built by helping dismantle the Klu Klux Klan and using it to destroy the reputations of many right-wing and libertarian organizations by labeling them as ‘hate groups.’ This is something we as people who advocate for the innate human rights of men and boys are more than familiar with due to the SPLC’s staunchly feminist leanings.

However I do digress. By the end of the game, in the good ending, you go through Reiho Academy, and take out the Big Four, the former student council president Onizuka, the Dragon Twins, and finally Yamada himself….twice!  Eventually you break past his supernatural powers, restore peace to the town and cement the school of Nekketsu as the defenders of the city. So what about RCRS’s gameplay? How does it compare to other games in the series? In my opinion its a finely honed edge. Easy enough for a casual player to grasp fairly quickly but varied and customizable enough to provide endless replay value and growth to a seasoned veteran of this type of gameplay, so much so that I’m playing through it even more in its harder difficulties simply to keep challenging myself. For a remake of a classic NES staple this nets a must play from me.

If you have a Nintendo 3DS you need to play this game. You’d be doing yourself a disservice otherwise. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to finish getting some information for something more recent that has hit home literally. To get an idea look up Benton, Kentucky and Marshall County. Until then Please Remember to Game Freely!

Alex Tinsley
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About the author

Alex Tinsley

A student of Fine Arts and Japanese culture of six years at Murray State University. Having never graduated due to difficulties with a specific teacher has gained a unique perspective upon the issues being faced by men and boys. A father of a young boy and loving husband.

By Alex Tinsley

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