Arc System Works is no stranger to the concepts behind quality side-scrolling brawlers. If you’ve never played the original River City Ransom, not a worry – River City: Tokyo Rumble (RCTR) will introduce you to the very core gameplay that brought so much adoration to the series in the 90s. Having played a hands-on demo of the game at E3, I began to realize how perfectly this style of game fits with the portability of the 3DS.
Kunio is a hot-blooded high school student attempting to fend off an invasive gang new to Tokyo. This self-proclaimed “fighter of justice” is the game’s protagonist, and the story follows him and his friends as they vie to defend their home. RCTR places an emphasis on combat, presenting players with an arsenal of fighting techniques in the format of an RPG’s progression system. The basics for any good brawler are here: punching, kicking, throwing, and weapon usage are all included. Weapons can range from soccer balls to iron knuckles, and certain environmental objects like trash cans and bicycles can be lifted and thrown at enemies to great effect.
RPG elements begin to creep into the gameplay with a simple yet addicting leveling system. Stats like Strength, Agility, and Willpower will raise naturally upon leveling up, and abilities can be improved separately in a multitude of ways. If you have enough money, you can visit a store to buy certain books that grant your character a special skill that can often turn a fight around. “Jobs” act like a bounty board-esque side quest hub, tasking players with certain goals to complete in order to gain the reward. Coins and experience are the main two forms of compensation, but that’s all you really need. Enemies drop coins after they die, so there’s a few different ways to gain currency in the game. Food can be purchased in addition to items and weapons in order to buff your characters, and an integrated in-game subway system lets you travel to specific towns for specific stores with ease. That is, if you can make it to the subway alive.
Local and Download Play lets players team up to fight in a 4-man Rumble…or a game of Dodgeball (currently available for download). Both are incredibly fun and have a fantastic habit of breaking up the longer sessions spent brawling. Whether it’s single player or multiplayer that interests you, there is a form of enjoyment in this game for everyone. And with an impressive amount of customization, sound and simple fighting mechanics, and an endearing art direction, RCTR feels like it’d be a fantastic addition to any 3DS owner’s game library.
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