River City: Tokyo Rumble

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
River City: Tokyo Rumble Game Poster Image
Retro beat-'em-up full of content, personality.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Strong themes of friendship, helping those in need, overcoming any obstacles in your way. But in game world, most effective way to solve a problem is with your fists.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Kunio, game's protagonist, has his own code of honor, will defend those in need, especially if person is a friend. But Kunio is stereotypical "tough guy," slacking off in class, talking back to authority, solving most problems by punching them.

Ease of Play

Simple controls; easy to learn.

Violence

Violence key to play. Kunio runs around Tokyo fighting waves of enemies, uses everything from brass knuckles, baseball bats to garbage cans, bicycles to beat everyone up. Despite violence, game has a very cartoonish, retro look. Enemies flicker, vanish; no blood, gore.

Sex
Language

Occasionally use of "hell."

Consumerism

Latest installment of fighting franchise, with merchandise covering comic books, television shows, live-action films that have already been released, currently in development overseas.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that River City: Tokyo Rumble is an arcade-style beat-'em-up action game. Due to the nature of the genre, violence is front and center in the game, although the cartoonish, retro style keeps things from being graphic in nature. The game is simple to pick up and play, a throwback to old-school arcade button-mashers. River City: Tokyo Rumble does feature strong themes of friendship and standing up for those in need, but the message gets a little blurred when every problem is overcome by punching or kicking it.

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What's it about?

In RIVER CITY: TOKYO RUMBLE, players take up the role of Kunio, a hotheaded high school student who has also proclaimed himself the "fighter for justice." So when gangs move into town, threatening his friends and classmates, Kunio decides it's time to roll up his sleeves and give these bullies a good ol'-fashioned beat down. It's not all punching and kicking though, as Kunio will take on some part-time jobs to help boost his skills, pick up a good book to read, and maybe even chow down on a snack or two along the way on his quest for justice. Players also get to take a break by jumping into either of two mini-games, both of which support up to four players. The first is Rumble, a last-man-standing, arena-style martial arts tournament. The second is a free-for-all, anything-goes dodgeball competition.

Is it any good?

At a time when flashy graphics, complex moves, and intricate storylines are popular, it's good to remember that simple things can still be lots of fun. Take River City: Tokyo Rumble, for example. A throwback to the old-school arcade beat-'em-up games of the mid to late '80s, this is basic button-mashing martial arts at its finest. Jump, kick, punch, maybe pick up the occasional weapon. Wash, rinse, and repeat. Sometimes you'll even get a little backup from one of Kunio's AI-controlled buddies, to whom you can dish out support commands. Overall, it just doesn't get much easier (or repetitive) than this. Still, despite the repetition, you just can't seem to put the game down.

As much fun as the main story mode is, that's not all that River City: Tokyo Rumble has to offer. The game also includes two mini-games that are just as addictive as the story mode. The first, Rumble, is a free-for-all area battle royal for up to four players. The other mode is dodgeball, which is, well, dodgeball, also supporting up to four players. While both games are limited to ad-hoc play, with no online support, the upside is that they support Download Play, allowing players to join in the fun even if they don't own a copy of the game. Both mini-games are essentially just distractions from the main game, but they're both put together well enough to enjoy when you have friends around and they add a little extra bulk to the package. There's no denying that River City: Tokyo Rumble is catering to a specific crowd. Where one person might see a great piece of nostalgic homage to arcade action of days past, another is just as likely to dismiss it as part of a franchise that refuses to get with the times. Either way, River City: Tokyo Rumble, with its corny dialogue and retro style, is a wacky and entertaining sort of fun that can best be compared to watching a cheesy kung fu B movie.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how violence in games like River City: Tokyo Rumble is shown. Does the game's retro style and lack of graphic violence lessen its impact? Is it more acceptable when enemies simply fall over and vanish?

  • Discuss using violence to solve problems. When, if ever, is violence an appropriate response to a problem? What are some nonviolent alternatives that kids can use to put a stop to bullies?

Game details

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