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Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Even with some questionable controls and outdated graphics, Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble feels like the River City Ransom sequel I've been waiting for. There's plenty of exciting action, tons of boss fights and a whole city to explore. If you can get over the game's shortcomings, you'll discover that Kenka Bancho is worth fighting for! Rating: 71%
Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble
Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble
  • Review Score:

  • B
Once upon a time there was a game called River City Ransom. On the surface this Technos game looked like any other 8-bit brawler, however it didn't take long to discover that this action game was incredibly ambitious. Instead of making you fight through levels that are straight out of a big budget action movie, this game took place around your home town. You were a bunch of teenagers exploring a series of inter-connecting areas, fighting gang members and saving the day.

River City Ransom is one of my favorite NES games, a cartridge I still go back to at least once a year. This is a game with a great sense of humor, adventure elements and enough depth to make me want to explore every nook and cranny of the city. For years I have wished for a 3D update to this classic game, something that incorporated the modern day sensibilities, all while mixing in a lot of the old school fun of River City Ransom. At long last I have found that game, and its name is Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble.

Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble (PSP)

As the name suggests, Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble is a wacky Japanese street brawler that doesn't take itself too seriously. You play Takashi, a street-wise high school student on a class trip to Kyouto. While the intent is for you to learn from the beautiful locations, you have bigger aspirations. Your plan is to prove how tough you are by beating up the rest of the banchos in town. As luck would have it, banchos from around the country are here for exactly the same reason. It's up to you to beat up the 46 bonchos and prove to everybody that you are the toughest boncho of them all.

Okay, so the story is admittedly stupid. It's really just a set up for a kick-butt action game where you travel around a giant open world picking fights and beating up other district leaders. The game is split up into a bunch of different smaller districts, each with their own gangs, historical landmarks and commercial establishments. The idea is to go around and beat up as many district leaders as possible before time runs out. Unfortunately you only have a few days to travel around Kyouto and do as much damage as you can. What's more, you have to abide by the strict 9 pm curfew, which means that you only have twelve hours in each day to get into street fights.

All this is complicated even further when you realize that much of the game requires you to pay attention to where each gang is going to show up and when they frequent each location. Thankfully you can beat up random goons to find the lists of times and places where each bancho will be, but even with this invaluable information you're still racing against the clock to do and see everything. Because you are always aware that the clock is counting down, there's a great sense of urgency to locate every last bancho in town. And if you don't do it the first time, you're going to be just as committed to go in and try it over and over again until you finally are the king of Kyouto.

Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble (PSP)

The combat is pretty good, for the most part. At first the combat feels a little clunky and sluggish. However, as my character leveled up and learned new moves, I realized the potential for the game. Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble never achieves the level of control it should for being a 3D brawler, but it manages to get the job done without getting in the way. The level of depth and customizability is impressive, fans of micromanaging everything will get a kick out of how many moves you can choose. Even more impressive is how all of this is done with only a couple of buttons.

On top of having the standard punches and kicks, your character also has a series of throws, grabs, combos and special moves. You can also pick up weapons and cause even more damage. Unlike most traditional brawlers, the weapons (including baseball bats, metal pipes, pieces of wood, etc.) don't disappear after you've used them a few times. You can continue to use the same weapon day after day, which definitely comes in handy when you're going up against some of the harder boss characters.

There is more to being a bancho than just getting into a bunch of brawls. One thing you need to do is warn your enemy first, that way you aren't known for being the guy that sucker punches everybody on the street. It turns out that reputations matter in the big city of Kyouto. The good news is that warning your foes means that you get to play a fun and exciting smack talk mini-game. In this mode you will have to assemble an insult using the game's face buttons and should triggers. You only have a few seconds to choose the right parts of each comeback. If you successfully insult your opponent, it will knock him off guard and you'll land an early blow. Fail to get the saying right and you'll be on the receiving side of a hard punch to the face. This mini-game gets harder the further you get into the story, but it always remains fun, if not a little stressful.
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