The River City renaissance continues apace with a huge honkin' collection
Every Kunio-kun game imaginable is heading to an equally exhaustive set of systems.
Since the dissolution of Technos Japan more than 20 years, the rights to its properties have bounced around between various developers, holding companies, and occasional hopeful aspirant with no apparent legal claim to the games. One element of Technos's legacy at least seems to have found a stable and loving home, though: The Kunio-kun series. Best known here for NES RPG-brawler hybrid River City Ransom, the Kunio-kun games (also sometimes called the Downtown Nekketsu games) star Japanese high school punks with a burning sense of justice and a love for rumbling with their cross-town rivals — sometimes with dirty sports competitions, sometimes with pure, simple punch-ups.
Arc System Works bought the rights to the Kunio-kun games in 2015, and they wasted no time whatsoever in getting to work on a franchise revival. They've already turned out some pretty respectable modern (yet retro) takes on River City Ransom, including one inexplicably set in medieval times, and as Tokyo Game Show begins this week they've announced the next Kunio-kun release: A massive retro compilation of Famicom and NES games slated for release in 2018.
They've seriously crammed every Kunio-kun title you could care to wish for on here — 11 unique titles in total, plus four international variants. The following games will appear on the compilation:
- Downtown Nekketsu Koushinkyoku
- Nekketsu Koukou Dodge Ball Bu (aka Super Dodge Ball)
- Nekketsu Kakutou Densetsu
- Nekketsu! Street Basket
- Nekketsu Koukou Dodge Ball Bu: Soccer Hen (aka Nintendo World Cup)
- Bikkuri Nekketsu Shinkiroku: Harukanaru Kin Medal (aka Crash ‘n the Boys Street Challenge)
- Kunio-kun no Nekketsu Soccer League
- Ike Ike! Nekketsu Hockey Bu
- Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-kun (aka Renegade)
- Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari (aka River City Ransom)
- Kunio-kun no Jidaigeki da yo Zen’in Shuugou!
- Super Dodge Ball
- River City Ransom
- Crash ‘n the Boys Street Challenge
While that doesn't encompass the series' latter-day releases on next-generation systems and handhelds (and note that it includes the NES version of Renegade, not the arcade original), it definitely covers the Famicom bases. Arc System Works will also be covering contemporary bases as well; the Kunio-kun World Classics Collection will appear on PlayStation 4, Switch, Steam, and even Xbox One.
Coverage of regional bases, on the other hand, remains to be seen. So far, Arc System Works has taken a decidedly aggressive approach to localizing its Kunio-kun releases, and the compilation notably includes four English-language versions. On the other hand, the one game that received a U.S. release but which won't appear on the collection may speak to the logistical issues that could prevent international distribution. Nekketsu Koukou Dodge Ball Bu: Soccer Hen shipped in the U.S. as Nintendo World Cup… which was a Nintendo first-party release. Assuming Nintendo still holds the rights to that version of the game (which seems likely, given Nintendo's usual practices), there's no way it will appear on any non-Nintendo platform, which could trip up a U.S. release. And it seems unlikely that Arc System Works would go to the trouble of localizing the half-dozen games that didn't receive English translations; some use very little text, true, but it's hard to imagine the average American gamer is particularly eager to wade through a street basketball game in a foreign language.
Still, I'd wager better-than-even odds we see some iteration of this collection in English, even if it loses some of the games included in the Japanese version. In a worst-case scenario, pretty much all the platforms the World Classics Collection will ship on lack region locks… so you can realize your dream of playing River City Ransom on Xbox One one way or another.