Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Kunio Kun's MMORPG Lives Again!

I share your enthusiasm.
If ever there was a video game protagonist who embodied the now well-tread cliche, "Fall down ten times, get up eleven", it has to be Kunio Kun.  It has now been three decades since Yoshihisa Kishimoto's scrappy Japanese highschooler first took to the streets in order to rescue his buddy Hiroshi from gangs, and from the original Nekketsu Kouha Kunio Kun sprung not only all-time classics in its canon, like River City Ransom, but the entire beat-em-up genre. 

For a series with that kind of importance, it's certainly taken its share of spills, with long hiatuses of no active-ownership sustained only by fan-made remakes, and more recently, an acquisition by ARC System Works that consistently produced games, but many of those games being just rehashes of older ones, and almost none being released outside of Japan.  Back in 2008, a Korean developer attempted to make an MMORPG based on the property, which fell off the map until 2010, when it had another demo, only to be apparently discontinued again the next year.

As of late, though, the stars seem to have aligned in this series' favor again.  It began with a Canadian indie developer, Conatus Creative, successfully getting permission to make a crowdfunded River City Ransom sequel, continued in the form of the PS3 successor to Crash N' the Boys: Street Challenge getting an American release, plus a port to PC via Steam, also under the River City brand (which is bound to cause some issues with different games in the series using the Japanese or English character names), and now, beginning late last year, the MMORPG is back, too--though only available in Chinese, so far.

Based on the media released, there are a number of changes since its last iteration in 2010.  Graphics have been revamped into less-chibified forms; perhaps to distinguish this further from ARC and Conatus-developed Kunio games, and in addition to the earlier version's focus on user-created characters, there seems to be a story focusing on three playable protagonists from the existing canon, Kunio Kun himself, his friend/ally/rival Riki Sameda, and Kunio's maybe-girlfriend Hasebe Kazumi.  At some points, there is obviously some degree of character customization involved, since you can buy clothes, including a rainbow Afro wig and a Mario cap. (If Nintendo is supporting this game, that's a good sign!)  The new story mode is narrated in-part by 3-D cut-scenes!

The game also has added a number of drivable vehicles, including a motorcycle, a mech suit, and--for that hipster in all of us--an excavator.  You can even obtain guns!  Combos look to be quite wild, which is a good thing, considering it has to compete with Conatus's impressive efforts!  There is no word yet on whether the game includes a high-definition iteration of the infamous bare-butt sauna, but perhaps we will find out!

The game can be downloaded for Android, iPhone, and PC, so go try it out if you're up for it!  I will post more if I can get it to work!  In the meantime, salivate over the colorful, well-drawn screenshots--including Hasebe's fine behind:

You've come a long way, baby.

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