When the police force proves to be ineffective, at maintaining order, it falls upon high school delinquents to uphold justice. River City: Tokyo Rumble is a retro style beat-em-up were players keep the streets of River City… um I mean Tokyo… clean by pummelling the gang members infesting its prefectures. Although I never had the pleasure of playing River City Ransom on the NES, Tokyo Rumble’s brawling is familiar to me as it harkens back to the days of Double Dragon (heck, the game even uses the Double Dragon theme in one of its later stages.) Forget complex combos and special moves, self defence in Japan’s capital merely involves pressing A and B to dish out a flurry of punches and kicks.
The combat in River City: Tokyo Rumble may lack depth, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. Smacking hoodlums never gets old, whether you inflict damage with your fists or by using the plethora of weapons found littering Tokyo’s pavements. Like in most brawlers there are whips and baseball bats to wield, along with less orthodox weaponry. Ever had the urge to hammer someone over the head with a bicycle? Well now you can, by downloading this 3DS gem, you violent cycle-path… um I mean psychopath. Defeating foes awards experience points and once sufficient XP has been accrued protagonist Kunio levels up, increasing his stats in the process.
Apart from bolstering his physical might, Kunio can beef up his mind by reading books. Paperbacks can be purchased from stores (by using the coinage procured from vanquished ruffians) and perusing their contents will teach our hero some new Kung-Fu techniques. Money can also be spent on recuperating health, which is accomplished by dining at restaurants, or on purchasing protective attire. The apparel Kunio can don includes defence boosting shirts and agility enhancing sneakers. Items can also be equipped on the AI controlled companions who accompany Kunio on his quest. The allies in question may not be very smart, but on the plus side they don’t “accidently” whack me in the back when my guard is down (like my human chums used to do back when we played Streets of Rage.)
My rating for River City: Tokyo Rumble is a three and a half out of five. I suspect the simplistic gameplay will bore some players, but old fogeys such as myself should appreciate Tokyo Rumble’s nostalgic charm. The 8-bit visuals are rather cute and I dug the humorous dialogue uttered during cut scenes (or whenever an enemy gets thumped.) Unlike some other fighting games, which are broken up into linear levels, I liked how you are given the freedom to explore Tokyo at your leisure. Each area can be reached courtesy of Tokyo’s reliable subway system. Thank goodness that this game isn’t set in London or else it would take hours to reach your destination, because the Underground’s lazy staff is always on strike.
If the game were a little longer I would have considered awarding it four stars. As it stands, Tokyo Rumble’s story can be completed in around four hours. Not great value, although you can extend your playtime by completing the optional side quests that are posted at the local job centre. River City also comes bundled with a couple of mini-games. The first of these is a four-man brawl dubbed Rumble and the other is Dodgeball, which involves knocking out rivals by hurling balls at their faces. Ouch! Watching Haikyu never prepared me for how barbaric sports can be. Parents who want to spare their kids from violence may want to avoid River City’s Dodgeball mode and invest in a more wholesome sport sim instead. I personally recommend Dead or Alive Xtreme 3.