The Nintendo Switch has become home to a number of memorable retro collections as of late. SNK 30th Anniversary Collection immediately comes to mind, along with Konami’s Contra and Castlevania compilations. But now we have a new oddball favorite from Arc System Works that celebrates the legacy of River City Ransom (or Kunio-Kun, depending on the market), as well as the NES in general. It’s not entirely a package full of hits, but it has more than enough goodness to make it worth recommending.
Actually, Double Dragon & Kunio-kun Retro Brawler Bundle goes beyond fighters. Sure, the three original Double Dragon games are included, along with River City Ransom and its unlikely sequel. But there are other weird little sports games as well, with a lot of them worth their weight in gold. Oh, and there’s also Renegade, but…well, we’ll get to that.
The game collection can be sorted any way you see fit, but the general setup is nice, with the Double Dragon games at the start and then the various titles following after. They’ve been lovingly recreated from their NES days, right down to the classic pixel effects and soundtracks. Emulation doesn’t miss a beat here, especially with old-school titles like Super Dodge Ball. It’s just as good as you’d remember. For that matter, Crash’n the Boys Street Challenge is also a terrific game, and one that you may have missed the first time around.
But obviously, coming back to River City Ransom is a joy. Being able to beat up thugs, buy items with coins they drop (or “barf” rather) and get your revenge is a sweet, sweet thing. Even in the face of blossomed efforts like River City Girls, it’s great to revisit the original that started it all. Not to mention the sequel, Downtown Nekketsu March Super-Awesome Field Day!, which is a fun surprise.
There’s also a soccer game, which is a neat curio title but kind of bland in gameplay. However, then we got to Go-Go! Nekketsu Hockey Club Slip-and-Slide Madness, which makes me wonder why it didn’t get the original NES treatment. This is an insanely fun game that’s worth playing with friends, either online or locally. And it’s bound to grow on you just as much as Ice Hockey or, dare I say it, the wonderful Blades of Steel. This is worth a shot by itself.
The basketball game, Nekketsu! Street Basketball All-Out Dunk Heroes, is also a good time, though it’s a bit on the action side instead of straight-up b-ball. Still, some folks will like that.
There are a few mistakes here and there. While Nekketsu Fighting Legend and Downtown Special Kunio-kun’s Historical Period Drama! Fighting Period have their quirky moments, I eventually ended up going back to the sports games. And Renegade…well, it’s just too frustrating to stick with for long. As the game told me, “Get lost, punk!”
There’s a solid collection here, but, like other compilations, there’s not much else. The games are presented with nice emulation and multiplayer options, but there’s not much history that breaks down the games. It would’ve been good to read more about their success in Japan and, ultimately, why Arc System Works chose to give it a chance here. Alas, it’s just the games here. But fortunately, there are far more good than bad. Even with Renegade. (You can probably tell by this point that I am not a fan of Renegade.)
For those that love all things River City Ransom — or just want to enjoy the original Double Dragon games again — this Retro Brawler Bundle is worth the cash. Sure, there are some duds here, but there’s also a ton of great games worth discovering, from hockey to basketball to a freakin’ River City Ransom sequel I didn’t even know existed. The joy of discovery is on full display here, and the fun these games bring — alone or with friends — is really something. Grab yourself a bowl of ramen and have a few retro-themed nights.
Double Dragon & Kunio-kun Retro Brawler Bundle is available now on Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. This review is based on the Nintendo Switch version.