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Kunio Kun
(Hyper Anime Studios)


"Double Dragon Play, River City Ransom style!"

Once again, the thugs have invaded the streets, turning the once peaceful Japanese city into a crime-infested that only vigilantes Kunio and Riki could restore to order. But this time the bad guys have a strategy; separate the fighting team of Kunio and Riki, then finish them both while they are divided!

You play both Kunio and Riki in Kunio Kun. Unleash your devastating multi-fist attack, or pummel your opponents with a spinning drill. With multiple enemies, multiple fighting moves, and four levels of action concluding in a grand tournament, Kunio Kun brings the popular beat 'em up series from Technos Japan to your PC!

Graphics (n.)
The use of animation and visual effects to stimulate the senses
Good. What impressed me most about Kunio Kun's graphics are the huge, well-drawn backgrounds. Instead of a tileish look, the battlegrounds where Kunio Kun take place in massive, hand-drawn cityscapes that emphasize the urban look that Hyper Anime Studios was trying to capture for their River-city Ransom style game.

The low point of Kunio Kun is a choppy framerate, which is compensated by the absence of flicker and fair game speed. The enemies and characters in Kunio Kun also have plenty of animation frames, making the various fighting moves easily discernable and fun to watch. Not only are the special moves well-animated, but the frames for getting hit are pretty numerous as well. It's all drawn with that typical yellow Hyper Anime look, and while it doesn't have the dazzle of Bakuen Sakuru, the graphics are still good. 

Sound/Music (n.)
The smooth blend of atmospheric sounds and original harmonies
Hyper Anime gambled a bit in the sound and music category by forcing the requirement of a 100% compatible Sound Blaster sound card. There's no sound-off option either, so if you don't have a sound card that's compatible with Kunio Kun your system will freeze up. So don't try playing Kunio Kun unless you have a 100% compatible Sound Blaster Card ready.

If Kunio Kun runs successfully on your computer though, you're in for a surprise. While Kunio Kun lacks sound effects, the game comes with a huge WAV file making up the game's music. And if that isn't enough, the kicker is that the WAV file is a recording of the NES game River City Ransom's music! Since the music isn't original material though, Hyper Anime can't get full points in this category. But having the authentic music from the River City Ransom series really helps add an authentic atmosphere to Hyper Anime's game.

Gameplay (n.)The precision of control and involvement of character within its universe vvv
Think of Kunio Kun as a Double Dragon game with River City Ransom's fighting moves. You alternate between playing Kunio and Riki while playing a straightforward battle against rival gangs. Once you defeat all the thugs in each level, you get to face a boss, who usually has a lot more life and must be dealt with more carefully. Should you lose on the way to the final boss, you have a limited number of continues that put you back to the beginning of the last level you passed.

Once nice thing about Kunio Kun is at it immediately sets the standard for the number of moves that each character ought to have in a QB beat-em 'up style game. Kunio and Riki can punch, kick, stomp, throw, block and perform several special techniques that can be performed by pressing one or a combination of three attack buttons (a punch button, a kick button, and a block button). While you don't have to mix up your attacks to win the game, having the flexibility to beat up the enemies on screen from any position is a great plus.

What you won't find from this River City Ransom-type game are some of the features that only die-hard River City Ransom fans (like Hyper Anime Studios) are aware about. People who have played the old NES game will remember the attribute-increase system, the ability to purchase special techniques, and other extras that have made River City Ransom such a popular yet unsung game. These features are absent from Kunio Kun, but the number of fighting moves at your disposal from the beginning of the game make up for these missing elements easily, and in fact make Kunio Kun somewhat unique in it's own right.

Story (n.)
The creativity and presentation of the game's critical plot
(Very Good)
First off, it's very difficult to earn any story points if your story is based on popular commercial videogame characters. Many QB games and clones have received a smattering in the Story category because of this. However, Kunio Kun is in a unique position, in the sense that the characters are familiar, but the plot was never really expanded on very well by Technos Japan, the people who made Renegade and River City Ransom (the games that inspired QB's Kunio Kun) possible.

Second, instead of regurgitating the same storyline from the games to which it was inspired, Kunio Kun takes the plotline of the River City Ransom series and takes it's own unique spin on the story. Instead of defending the city from a high-school takeover, Kunio and Riki are split apart and you're forced to take on the gang from two different fronts. This twist to the story not only makes the story elements original, but it forces the gameplay to move in a new and innovative direction.

Finally, Hyper Anime added some original demos to compliment their original spin off the River City Ransom series. Between battles you're treated to some cutscenes that use a mixture of dialogue and action, typical of Hyper Anime QB games like Puzzle Bomber Plus, Bakuen Sakuru, and most recently Kunio Kun. Overall, the only other complaint to the fact that the characters are not original, there's a lack of a story skip feature; while you're watching the game's cutscenes, you can't skip the cutscene altogether until it is done. These are both really minor crimps to Kunio Kun that add up to the one-point penalty in the story score, though. Hyper Anime did a superb job.

Replay Value (n.)
The timelessness of the gamer's delight, such that the experience can be repeated again and again
(Very Good)
This is where Kunio Kun really capitalizes for being one of the first QB beat 'em up games ever made. Not only that, but Hyper Anime Studios chose to make a beat-up game based on an unsung brawler instead of a more popular, tried and true game like Double Dragon or Streets of Rage. Of course, a good QB Double Dragon or Streets of Rage clone could shine in it's own right, but choosing an unorthodox route like a River City Ransom clone and getting the fighting elements of that series down is unexpected and enjoyable.

Even if you haven't played River City Ransom, the gameplay in Kunio Kun can be pretty deep if you give it a chance. You have plenty of throwing, close-up, and running moves to mix up, much like Double Dragon. The only two factors that keep the Replay value score from being excellent is a smoother framerate, a scoring system, or at least some two-player simultaneous action.

Challenge (v.)
To strike the mental nerve in such a way as to stimulate human thought and reflexes
Challenge comes not from the enemy AI, but from learning how to play Kunio and Riki. The difference between the two are slight, in the sense that the basic moves are the same, but the special techniques are different. You don't get to choose whether you get to play Kunio or Riki for each level, so to beat Kunio Kun you have to get pretty good with both of them.

Once you do learn how to play your characters well, spacing becomes the critical part of the game. Your more powerful moves generally hit in only one direction, and leave you very open for an attack from behind. Sometimes it's just a matter of running until your position is right, but in the later levels you also have a timer to watch over, so you have to work on efficiency. The challenge may be average, but it's not as easy as it looks.

Fun Factor (n.)
The overall entertainment value as maintained throughout the adventure
Fans of River City Ransom may not be fully impressed with Kunio Kun simply because it lacks some the added bonuses that make River City Ransom a classic, such as shops and two-player simultaneous support. But if you take that aside and actually compare Kunio Kun to all the QB fighters and beat 'em ups that have been made so far, Kunio Kun easily does a good job of putting the competition in it's place.

So why only three points? Perhaps Hyper Anime Studios sees the same thing I see. While Kunio Kun sets up a lot of groundwork on how a QB beat-'em up game is supposed to be done, there's definitely room for improvement. Hyper Anime has crazy visions of a two-player simultaneous mode and other features that would certainly point to the right direction for Kunio Kun, but QB game developers can stretch their beat 'em ups in any direction they choose.

What Kunio Kun does set a shining example for is setting up the basics. With plenty of fighting moves at your disposal and several stages to play, this QB brawler is the game I think plenty of fighting game fans have been waiting for in QB. They just have to forget the days when fighting meant Street Fighting one-on-one style, and remember the days when a good videogame barfight is all about fighting the entire bar.

Kunio Kun Reviewed by Vance Velez

Players 1 player Genre: Arcade/Beat 'em Up Game
Rating To solve: 30 min-1 hour Final Rating: 22/35

To download this game, click here.
Installation Tips
wKunio Kun requires a 100% Sound-Blaster compatible card .
wTo play Kunio Kun, unzip the file and run "ROWDY.BAT".

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