[Beyond PlayStation] Double Dragon and Kunio-kun: Retro Brawler Bundle Review | PS4Blog.net
The Double Dragon and Kunio-kun: Retro Brawler Bundle is a most-excellent collection of old-school games that make this a must-buy release. Find out why in our Double Dragon and Kunio-kun: Retro Brawler Bundle review!
The Double Dragon and Kunio-kun: Retro Brawler Bundle is an awesome collection on Nintendo Switch that offers 18 titles for only $39.99 – that’s a lot of bang for your buck! The best news is that out of those, 11 games had never been localized for North America – more on that in a bit. We’re getting the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) versions of Renegade, River City Ransom, Crash’ n the Boys Street Challenge, as well as the Double Dragon trilogy which, up until the 2017 release of Double Dragon IV – that I reviewed on PlayStation 4 and which is also available on Nintendo Switch – was all the Double Dragon we could get.
Some of the games in this collection will actually feature two versions for you to play. There’s the original version which performs just as you remember it from when played on the original NES cartridge each game came on (or Famicom cartridge for the included games that we didn’t get to play in North America), but there’s also a better version dubbed the “Quality Up” version, which adds some quality of life extras. For example, the Quality Up version of Double Dragon has reduced lag and flickering as well as some bug fixes, while the Quality Up version of Super Dodge Ball adds 3 and 4 player multiplayer support for one of its mode, among other things.
The Double Dragon franchise is a series of beat ’em ups starring brothers Billy and Jimmy Lee that got its start at the arcades back in 1987, followed by an NES port in 1988. The story is that one day Marian is kidnapped, so the brothers set out on a journey to save her. Due to the big gap between what arcade machines could do back in the 1980s and what the humble NES could do at home, the conversion is not an arcade-perfect port, but it’s still a fun game to play. It has a level up system that has you gain new attacks as you obtain 1,000 points from the attacks you land on opponents, which was unique. The second Double Dragon game, titled Double Dragon: The Revenge, was released in the arcades in 1988, with a general feeling that was similar to its prequel… at least in the arcade version!
This time around, the NES port of the sequel looks completely different from the first game on Nintendo’s home console, featuring a revamped and improved look for main characters Billy and Jimmy Lee, as well as for the enemies you’ll be fighting against, and the areas you’ll be visiting are more colorful and detailed. This is different from how Double Dragon: The Revenge was handled for its arcade release, since the sequel reused many of the assets of the previous arcade entry. As for the story for Double Dragon II: The Revenge? As the title suggests, for this one, you’ll be going on a beat ’em up vendetta to avenge Marian, who is shot at the start of the game. The NES version we get in the Double Dragon and Kunio-kun: Retro Brawler Bundle is generally based on the arcade game, but it’s certainly doing its own thing!
And then, there’s Double Dragon III: The Rosetta Stone, originally released at the arcades back in 1990, followed by an NES port in 1991 as the retitled Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones. The arcade game has all new assets for all main characters, enemies, and locations, as well as an interesting gimmick by which you could enter a store in the game and purchase additional lives, a boost to your health, a power-up, or “tricks” by simply inserting a coin into the machine. Since the goal of an arcade game is to make you spend as much money as possible, without making you feel overwhelmed by the difficulty or else you’ll walk away, having this gimmick added did feel weird at first, but it’s something I used back in the day during my many runs of Double Dragon III: The Rosetta Stone.
Along with being renamed, the NES port of the third game in the original trilogy hits some of the overall beats of the arcade version, but it’s not a port per se. Marian has been kidnapped again by a mysterious organization that is demanding the three titular sacred stones as ransom. Because of this, the Lee brothers set out on a trip around the world to try and find the stones, before it’s too late. Unlike in the arcade version where you have different characters to choose from, the NES version starts you with Billy and Jimmy, with additional characters being added as you progress through the game and defeat them since they’ll act as the game’s bosses.
On top of this, each character will have its own health total and attack techniques, as well as limited use items they can select by entering the player select menu and picking their unique item. The brothers have some nunchucks they can use a handful of times to deal considerable damage to their opponents. There are also weapons you can pick up from enemies, as was the case for the first two games in the series, and these are not tied to the special weapons your characters can pick from the aforementioned player select menu.
Renegade is another game that started as an arcade release before being ported to the NES, and it’s this second version that we’re getting in this awesome collection. In this one, you’ll be punching, kicking, jump kicking, run punching, run kicking, kneeing, shoulder throwing, and sit-on punching your opponents over the course of four stages. Add one section in which you’ll be riding a motorcycle as you take on the bad guys, and you have a fun, action-packed beat ’em up on the NES! At the end of each stage, you will face up against a boss, and you will need to pay attention to its movement and attack patterns so that you can start to deal some considerable damage, aiming to lower its hit points down to zero.
The game was originally released for the arcade before being ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System by Technos Japan, and it’s a fun beat ’em up in which you’ll be using the B and A buttons to attack to your left and right, respectively. This way, you won’t end up surrounded by enemies without any way of hitting them back! Depending on which way your character is facing, the B and A button will have him do a punch or a kick. You can also do a jump kick by pressing both buttons at the same time. And since you can run by double-tapping the D-Pad or the analog stick in the same direction, this opens the door for you to run punch and run kick your opponents.
River City Ransom is a beloved open-world beat ’em up with some RPG elements in which high school students Alex and Ryan go out on an adventure to rescue Cindy, who has been kidnapped – Cindy being Ryan’s girlfriend. You can take on the game your way, exploring different sections at any time, even if you’re actually not properly prepared for it! You’re going to have to punch and kick your way from point A to point B, as you try to find some clues that will bring you closer to finding Cindy’s location.
If you don’t make good use of any weapons, you can get your hands-on, then you’re going to get wrecked by your opponents. You’ll also need to spend your hard-earned money to purchase new abilities and fight techniques, which will prove to be very valuable when you go up against the different bosses you’ll run into in River City Ransom. To round things up, you should also buy some delicious food and take some time at the spa so that you can not only recover your health but also to add some boosts to your stats, allowing you to pack more of a punch.
River City Ransom is one of those old-school games that I’ve finished many times over the year, several times many moons ago on the original NES, some extra times whenever I’ve plugged the old console that could back into a new display, and then later with the Game Boy Advance version – with its weird cover that rivals that of the next game I’ll discuss below – and it’s a game that still holds up on the Nintendo Switch.
Sports are also represented in this collection thanks to Super Dodge Ball, and Crash ’n the Boys Street Challenge! Super Dodge Ball is a game that released on the NES back in 1989 in North America, and as you have probably guessed by now, it’s a sports game based on dodgeball. You will slowly chip away at the health bar of each of your opponents by slamming the ball into them, as you try to eliminate the opposing team. You can pick different teams, and each group will have different advantages and disadvantages to take into consideration. For example, Team China will have an overall low defense but are great at catching the ball. Team Japan has a great offense but will fall apart if its leader is defeated.
I spent many hours playing Super Dodge Ball back in the day on my own as well as by making good use of its local multiplayer, which, unfortunately, was limited to only two players in total, instead of the up to four players that the original Japanese version supported. I liked its gameplay mechanics and the cast of characters I could play as, which was an interesting way to lead into River City Ransom, which would release on the NES during the following year.
As for Crash ’n the Boys Streets Challenge, it’s a collection of different events presented in an Olympic-style setup, except that there are pretty much no rules for each of the events! Take, for instance, one of the events which will take place underwater. While it could be taken as a regular swimming competition, you will actually end up battling your opponent, as you slowly make a dent on its hit points while also keeping an eye on your oxygen reserve so that you don’t end up drowning. Other events include races, a hammer throw competition, and some very dangerous rooftop jumping!
Depending on how you perform in each of the events, you could end up winning some Bronze, Silver, or Gold medals. These can be put to good use since they will act as the in-game currency, which you can use between events to go shopping. Stores will offer you info on the rules of the next event you’ll participate in, offer hints on how to win, or allow you to purchase boosts to your hit points, buy items that will boost your stats, or buy items that will hinder your opponents’ odds of winning.
I own Crash ’n the Boys Streets Challenge on a Nintendo Entertainment System Cartridge, as is the case for Double Dragon, Double Dragon II, and Super Dodge Ball, so I very much played this one for hours and hours decades ago. I’m happy to report that the game still holds up after all these years, with its detailed story cutscenes, fun events, and gameplay mechanics, although the weird cover art it had in North America is ugly as sin and should not have been approved in the first place.
To go along with the NES classics we know and love, the Double Dragon and Kunio-kun: Retro Brawler Bundle also includes a bunch of games that were never released in North America… until now! That’s right, along with the Double Dragon trilogy, Renegade, River City Ransom, and Crash ’n the Boys Street Challenge, this $39.99 package also includes eleven Japanese games that we never got to play back in the day in their original versions, and which are now being localized for the first time! That alone makes this a collection you should add to, well, your collection! The list of bonus games includes:
Nekketsu Renegade Kunio-kun
Nekketsu High School Dodgeball Club
Downtown Nekketsu Story
Nekketsu High School Dodgeball Club – Soccer Story
Downtown Nekketsu March Super-Awesome Field Day!
Downtown Special Kunio-kun’s Historical Period Drama!
Go-Go! Nekketsu Hockey Club Slip-and-Slide Madness
Surprise! Nekketsu New Records! The Distant Gold Medal
Nekketsu Fighting Legend
Kunio-kun’s Nekketsu Soccer League
Nekketsu! Street Basketball All-Out Dunk Heroes
Some of the games in the list above are the original version of games we did get in North America, but that for some reason or another had changes introduced to them during localization. This means you can play the original Japanese version of, say, Renegade, River City Ransom, Super Dodge Ball, but with text localized to English, which is certainly a nice bonus. Add the other games in the collection we never got in any version in North America, and there’s going to be something in here for everyone!
You can customize the way the games look. You can go with the standard zoom mode, the standard mode which is not as zoomed in, a 4:3 mode, a 4:3 zoom mode, or a full screen mode that stretches out the image. That last option is not one I would recommend, as it makes the sprites look weird and very different from what you might recall from playing any of the main NES games in this collection “back in the day,” but it’s an option for those of you that don’t want any part of the screen to feel “empty.” The collection also offers different background options for each of the eighteen games in the collection.
There’s also the option of changing how each of the buttons on the original NES pad translate to the Nintendo Switch, with the default setting having the A button and the B button directly translate to the B and A buttons on the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con or Pro controller. The Start and Select button are then mapped to the X and Y buttons, with the R button acting as if you were pressing the A and B buttons on an NES controller at the same time. The + button is set to be the one that pulls up the menu for the collection.
Each of the games in the Double Dragon and Kunio-kun: Retro Brawler Bundle will also have a short manual to teach you how to perform different moves with the A and B buttons, as well as the option of changing the game’s volume, adding a reverb effect, as well as how long said effect will be and how deep it will be, add a stereo effect to the audio, and even add a boost to the treble or the bass at two different levels, which will affect games differently depending on how their soundtrack was built. You can also press the + button to suspend save your progress in one of the four available slots so that you can either continue at another time or reload in case you make a mistake.
The collection features an in-game achievements system with 55 objectives to complete so that you can 100% this pixeltastic bundle of awesomeness. If presents a wide range of objectives to complete, such as clearing mission one on Double Dragon, clearing all missions in Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones without dying, clearing the first two levels in Renegade, eating all the menu items at the Sushi Bar in River City Ransom without using a password, winning the championship in Crash ‘n the Boys Street Challenge in Normal Single-Player Mode, clearing the first two levels in Nekketsu Renegade Kunio-Kun, clearing Downtown Nekketsu Story on normal, and more.
While you can play all of these games locally – with most having local multiplayer for up to at least two players – the Double Dragon and Kunio-kun: Retro Brawler Bundle also features an online mode in which you can take on a quick play session, create a room or find a room in which you can play with players from around the world! All eighteen games feature online multiplayer support, with Crash ‘n the Boys Street Challenge, Downtown Nekketsu March Super, and Surprise! Nekketsu New Records! allowing online multiplayer for up to four players.
The Double Dragon and Kunio-kun: Retro Brawler Bundle is a steal at only $39.99, offering eighteen games in total between the NES and Famicom games included in this excellent collection. I’ve been playing all games in this one for many hours, and will continue to dive back in thanks to the solid presentation and experience, being able to use suspend save states to jump between games, and how the Nintendo Switch allows me to play on the TV and then carry on with the console in Portable or Tabletop mode in a blink.
This Double Dragon and Kunio-kun: Retro Brawler Bundle review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by Arc System Works.