River City: Tokyo Rumble Review

  • First Released Sep 27, 2016
  • 3DS

The good kind of delinquency.

Kunio’s a hot-blooded teenager who’s known as the toughest punk at school--his very name sends fear down the spines of rival troublemakers across Tokyo. Grades and respect for authority mean little to him--he’s all about fighting for his own personal brand of justice, and if that means pummeling a few muscle-heads on the back streets of Tokyo, he’ll do it. However, what seems like a personal scuffle between one of Kunio’s friends and a rival group turns out to be a plot by a vicious gang to conquer all of Tokyo. It’s up to Kunio and company to clean up the streets in order to put a stop to their plans.

River City: Tokyo Rumble utilizes much of the familiar gameplay and visual style of River City Ransom--a cult-classic NES brawler. As Kunio, you bash your way across side-scrolling sections of Tokyo, fighting off mobs of rivals and local punks and picking up the loot and cash they drop, all while learning more about the strangely lovable band of delinquent scrappers you’re controlling. Tokyo Rumble’s combat is pretty basic when compared to other beat-em-ups, but that’s not really a huge mark against it--the easy-to-learn controls make it a breeze for players of all skill levels to start delivering some beatdowns.

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Of course, if things didn’t increase in complexity, the game would get dull pretty fast--but that’s a point where Tokyo Rumble excels much in the same way as the original RCR. As you pick up money and items dropped by defeated enemies, you can buy food, equipment, and skills to help augment your character. Gear like boots and brass knuckles raise your fighting stats, while buying instructions on new fighting skills from bookstores adds new moves to your arsenal--they increase your options during combat without significantly upping the control complexity. Pummeling enemies also increases your level, allowing you to get stronger and stronger as the game goes on.

Tokyo Rumble is modeled after RCR in its gameplay and visuals, but this time publisher Natsume has opted for a somewhat different style of localization that preserves much of the Japanese setting--many areas are based on real-life parts of Tokyo--and cultural tough-guy tropes that were missing from RCR. The result is a game that feels both comfortingly familiar and fascinatingly different to fans of the original RCR.

Supplementing this is an all-new quest system that has Kunio and company doing various errands in areas they’ve already cleared, such as fighting special bosses or looking for hidden mystery shops. Progressing through the game will also let you recruit CPU-controlled helper characters, who tag along with you but fight and level up independently. You can give your CPU pals basic orders, such as “help” or “stay back,” and they can be great assets during tougher boss brawls.

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I say “tougher” because Tokyo Rumble isn’t a terribly difficult game on the default setting: I played through on Normal, and it felt quite breezy as long as I kept a few healing items on hand for the bosses. It’s also not a terribly lengthy game, either: you’ll likely be able to smack your way through this on a lazy Saturday. While you can extend the game length by taking on the various optional missions available throughout the game, many of these missions actually make the game less fun, like asking you to beat a high number of faceless thugs in certain parts of the city or entering the same areas over and over again in hopes of finding a rare enemy encounter.

Tokyo Rumble does a good job of avoiding repetition in the core game, but asking you to waste time bashing generic thugs can make the combat really start to wear out its welcome. The same goes with boss fights: While some bosses have a few neat tricks up their sleeves, such as surrounding themselves with speedy motorcycle gangsters that need to be KO’ed with jump attacks, a lot of them are simply brutes that favor perseverance over skill.

While the main game is brief, it’s plenty of fun, and bonus minigames like dodgeball add some extra charm to Tokyo Rumble. It’s a solid action game with a charming retro flavor that leverages RCR's foundation to construct both a new adventure and a different perspective on beloved game. Here’s to hoping that Tokyo Rumble heralds the further adventures of Kunio and company coming Westward as well.

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The Good
Great localization
Combat is accessible and initially enjoyable
RPG-style progression systems are a nice twist
The Bad
Boss battles tend to drag
Combat in optional missions grows repetitive
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

It’s been a long time since Heidi played River City Ransom, but she was glad to re-enter the world of Kunio and company once again. She played Tokyo Rumble for eight hours, completing many of the optional quests in the process, using a complimentary copy of the game provided by Natsume.
12 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for Litchie

Cool, but way too expensive. 10 bucks would've been good.

Avatar image for WetVein

I wish it was a bit cheaper. $47 dollars Canadian (with tax) seems too pricey for this little game you can beat in one "lazy Saturday".

It sucks because I really love the original... and Super Dodge ball is one of my fave NES games of all time. Oh well, I guess I'll just wait 6-7 years for it to go on sale.

Avatar image for Tanares

What the-... River City?! NATSUME?! Did I hit a secret time warp pod back to 1990? Good god... with movies about Batman with Jack Nicholson and Micheal Keaton & Sean Connery as a Russian submarine captain, the Ninja Turtles arcade game... Full House! TV actually mattered still, barely anyone knew what an internet was (yet) and Hulkamania was still running wild in the WWF!

Good times. Thanks for the nostalgia =)

PS: plz SNK re-release Iron Tank. Much luvs

Avatar image for darthrevenx

@Tanares: River City Ransom was the 80's.........

Avatar image for externalpower43

@darthrevenx: The game came out in 89 but it didn't disappear into the twilight zone right after. Its possible that some people played it for the first time in 1990.

Avatar image for darthrevenx

@externalpower43: I had access to 3 video stores at the time and all 3 had different stock, RCR was one of the oddities I tried at one point, honestly didn't care for it......Double Dragon II was the shiznit.....and in arcades Final Fight.......gods we'd play that one for hours......the 7-11 morons hated us......hey don't want a bunch of kids hanging around all day don't have arcade games in the joint FFS that place always had the most messed logic.....anyways

pretty much everything on NES i was up to date on when 1990 rolled around....I skipped the RPG's and kiddie games vus F kiddie games and i wasn't into RPG's yet....

now a couple NES oddities I loved was Low G Man and Mendel Palace can't remember what Mendel Palace was all about but I remember liking it.....and Low G Man was a cool sidescroller with giant ass bosses unique for NES at the time.....most bosses weren't that big but LGM some levels were the boss lol i think if it was made now it'd be Warframe mixed with Monster Hunter but the monsters are all mechanical.....i played some crazy games man I swear.....

I kinda miss 8 and 16 bit.....hell i miss gen 5 & 6 too.......

Avatar image for csward

The first paragraph of this review made me think I was reading a description for the anime "Yu Yu Hakusho". I'm sure there are tons of Japanese anime/manga/shows that follow that plot line though.

Avatar image for streetmagik

I've been waiting for this. Forgot it came out Tuesday. Definitely downloading this tonight. Good, old school fun. Even though exclusives are almost nonexistent, I must say, I am very happy with the "new" 3ds. Ever since the 3ds launched and I traded in my DSi XL, I missed the size difference. I like my Vita, but I use the 3ds 10x more.

Avatar image for chiefwiggum16

I would love to see this on consoles. I just can't do the 3DS anymore.

Avatar image for DARKCHOAS

I know this is an empty wish but, I really wish we could get this game on some of the consoles (plural). I'm looking at you PS4, Xbox One, Wii U......

Avatar image for jinzo9988

There's a dev/publisher with its head on straight. None of this nonsense like forcing a 3D world and over-complicating the game with bullshit mechanics, overproduction and all this nonsense (hi Sega and Sonic!)... just do what the franchise is known for and pull it out of your pocket once and awhile with new minor twists.

Avatar image for DARKCHOAS

@jinzo9988: Well said! I agree with you 100%

River City: Tokyo Rumble More Info

  • First Released Sep 27, 2016
    • 3DS
    River City: Tokyo Rumble follows the story of a hot-blooded high school student named Kunio and his good friends. When a nefarious gang moves into Tokyo to try to take it over, it's up to this self-proclaimed "fighter for justice" and his buddies to make sure the streets stay safe!
    Average Rating3 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Published by:
    Arc System Works, Natsume
    2D, Beat-'Em-Up, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
    Everyone 10+
    Mild Language, Mild Violence