Some of my best memories of gaming are with playing Beat em up games with my brother. There is something that is fun about doing couch co-op, taking on waves of rivals to rescue someone. Or, to prove that you and your buddy are just pretty “bad dudes.” Some of the most fun my brother and I are with a game called River City Ransom on the Game Boy Advance. Now for the longest time, Kunio-Kun was created by the Japanese company Technōs Japan (makers of the classic series Double Dragon) until the companies bankruptcy in 1996. Without Technōs Japan creating the Kunio-Kun series, there probably wouldn’t be an illustrious Beat em’ Up genre that we have today. Throughout the years, we multiple companies picking up the licenses and re-released some of the Kunio-Kun library to keep the spirit alive. In 2015, Arc System Works acquired all intellectual properties of Technōs Japan from its previous license holder. Arc Systems Works wants to give back to the player to truly experience the classic Kunio-Kun titles with DOUBLE DRAGON & Kunio-Kun Retro Brawler Bundle, also known as Kunio-Kun: The World Classics Collection.
DOUBLE DRAGON & Kunio-Kun Retro Brawler Bundle comes jammed packed with 18 classic games all bundled inside of it. If that was not enough, another exciting fact is that 11 of these games are officially translated in English for the first time. Gamers in the US now have the chance to experience all of the hot-headed delinquent action they can handle! In many of the titles, it’s a straight beat em’ up. However, in the Kunio-Kun series, it goes a little deeper as to also offer sports games like Dodge ball, Soccer, Hockey, and more. Apart from Kunio-Kun like the title suggests, three entries from the Double Dragon series also appear on the collection. A significant part of my enjoyment of playing these games with my brother is the couch co-op play. However, both my brother and I currently have full-time jobs, so it’s not possible all the time. It’s a good thing that every game on this collection features an online multiplayer, so even though we are on different couches, we can still play together! Most (but not all) games in the collection feature an original version and a quality up version. Using River City Ransom as an example, when playing on original mode, there is slow down and lag with the controls, and its graphics are identical to what the game initially was. In the quality up version, these graphics are polished while still maintaining the original look as well as having no slow down or lag. It’s nice to have both versions so we can truly experience these games! While some of the games on the collections have not aged well but, nothing is unplayable like with other classic games.
DOUBLE DRAGON & Kunio-Kun Retro Brawler Bundle is a beautiful look into gaming history involving localization and catering to a western audience. Renegade, Super Dodge Ball, River City Ransom, and Crash ‘n the Boys Street Challenge are all featured in this collection, and it’s impressive to see the differences between the two versions are. Renegade probably features the most changes to a western audience. Its entire graphics changed to seem more attractive to America and other regions. The plot was changed as well. In Renegade, you are on your way to saving your girl from the evil gang members. In the original Kuni-Kun title, you are standing up for one of your friends who was getting bullied. Another significant change is the name-changes of the main character’s name in River City Ransom. Instead of Kunio and Riki, they were to Alex and Ryanin the US. This might not seem like a significant change, but this created a new canon. It created a separation from the normal Kunio-Kun series and made the New River City Ransom timeline that continues with River City Ransom: Underground featuring Alex and Ryan. It to me is truly fascinating to see what developers would have done in the past to make their games appease a wider audience. I wish some of the Super Famicom games such as Shin Nekketsu Kōha: Kunio-Tachi no Banka or Shodai Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-Kun were on the collection as well.
DOUBLE DRAGON & Kunio-Kun Retro Brawler Bundle is a great collection of beat em’ up games that truly have shown how far this genre has come. While this collection features 18 total games, some of them are repeated in the collection to show both the original Japanese and localized versions. While some might be excited to see this, others could be discouraged with this choice. It does not change the fact that this collection holds 11 classic games that never was translated English. With the edition of Local and Online Multiplayer for all of the titles on DOUBLE DRAGON & Kunio-Kun, its great with friends.