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    HandHanzo
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    River City Melee: Battle Royal Special

    Rating: 3.0 – Fair

    What we do here is go back…

    I must preface this review by admitting that this is NOT the most comprehensive version of Nekketsu Kakutou Densetsu. That would be "KD Legend of Burning: Battle Brawlers" (also known as "Hellknight’s KD"), go look it up. However, that game requires a Windows computer, which I no longer have.

    This game simply requires a PS4 and some money. Luckily, I caught it when it was on sale for $8. This game is actually meant to be the sequel to Nekketsu Kakutou Densetsu, and even has a cute little storyline to tie it all together.

    GRAPHICS: 7/10

    The sprites are the same 8-bit brawlers we all know and love, with the addition of female characters and some buff dude cosplaying as Rick Taylor from Splatterhouse. The stages and effects are comprised of slightly more modern graphic work, and maintain the general Kakutou Densetsu arena fighter appeal.

    My only gripe is that there aren’t more stages. You get three sizes of generic arena, a crumbling variant of that arena, a wharf, a soccer field and a factory. Each stage is flat, making it ideal for competitive play, but I would have liked a little more variety, and I’ll go into further detail as to why in the "Gameplay" section.

    SOUND: 7/10

    Much of the music combines elements of funk, world, rock & roll, and songs you might recognize from elsewhere in the Nekketsu series. You’ll actually notice quite a bit of 80’s influence, because that’s how long this series has been around. You might also notice a similarity in music style between this game and Fire Pro Wrestling Returns, so if you like the music in that game, you’ll appreciate this.

    The sound effects remain the same satisfying series of smacks and crunches that befit kicking this much ass. However, the menu dialog will meet you with loud, repetitive, really irritating beeping. You can remedy this by setting the message speed to "Immediately".

    CONTROLS: 9/10

    Nothing to complain about here as far as actual gameplay, but if you bring up a text prompt to name your online lobby, you’ll have to confirm with O and cancel with X. This is counter-intuitive because X is used to confirm every other menu command, and O to cancel, at least in the American release. A minor gripe as nobody plays this online.

    The basic controls flow really well and are remappable. Everyone can run, jump, kick, punch, swing weapons, throw weapons, and pick up downed opponents. Special moves are easy to get the hang of as well. They’re usually something like "press Punch while landing from a jump" or "throw a weapon while running". It’s harder to win a round without using a special move, but there’s a silver trophy in it for you if you can manage to do so.

    GAMEPLAY: 7/10

    This is where I begin to express my frustration a bit. While the action is indeed serviceable enough, it lacks things that were present in Nekketsu Kakutou Densetsu for the Famicom, like the four different basic attack styles or stages with any actual platforming. You can’t even 1v1 in Free Battle, even though the story mode has 1v1 scenarios in it.

    I would have to say that this game is less like Nekketsu Kakutou Densetsu and more like the fighting segments of Touhou Dai Undoukai Matsuri. It actually works in the exact same way. You pick a preset team, and select which of your six fighters should participate in the immediate round.

    25 unique teams are available, totalling 150 playable characters. Each character has different stat parameters and special moves. Leaders will always be the strongest, but with damage carrying over between rounds, you’re encouraged to find strategies with your other characters. One thing that stands out is that you can actually play as Double Tiger.

    Single Play is a story mode. A Kakutou Densetsu-style fighting tournament takes place days after the events of River City Super Sports Challenge. Much like in Capcom’s Rival Schools: United by Fate, students are being mysteriously assaulted out of nowhere, and every punk in every high school across town is trying to figure out what exactly is going on. Even cheerleaders and time travelers want in on this sweet action. This mode is worth playing, as each of the 25 teams are full of lovable characters and have their own cutscenes.

    In Free Battle, you can either conduct a four-team free-for-all or a tornado Tag Battle of two teams vs. two other teams. As I said, I would have liked to see more options, and more stage variety. Maybe in the future, the developers can bring a truly comprehensive Kakutou Densetsu experience to console, but until then, this will have to do.

    FINAL WORD

    Get it when it’s on sale like I did. I think retail price for this is around $30, there are other games around that price range that can provide more of a lasting experience than this does. That being said, there’s a fair amount of easy trophies here, if you’re into that.

    Also, this is the ideal couch social if you have a few extra controllers. It’s intuitive enough that anyone can pick it up and play. You can play it with your friends, or your kids, or whoever. Normies won’t remember the name of this game, but they’ll remember you as the guy who has it.

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