Double Dragon & Kunio-kun Retro Brawler Bundle Review

Even missing some weighty titles, this compilation is an example of how to rescue mythical sagas for a new generation.

Some games are immortal. No matter how much time passes: they are still groundbreaking and perfectly playable. But even so, it is easy for them to fade. Not necessarily that they fall into oblivion, but that it is difficult to play them, because the conservation policies of the industry are not that they are inefficient, it is that they do not exist. That is why the appearance of any compilation of classic games is cause for celebration, because, in an industry that pays so little attention to its past, anything that allows us to look back is something to celebrate.

Double Dragon & Kunio-kun Retro Brawler Bundle, which arrived on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch in Japan on December 20, and is now published in our territory for those same consoles, is a compilation made up of eighteen classic titles of the mythical Kunio-kun saga. But let’s not fool ourselves; although there are, technically, eighteen of them, six are the western versions of them; games where only a handful of sprites changed, some names and, generally, geopolitical allusions that were adapted to the western context. That is, to the cold war and turning rival teams into evil Soviet athletes.

Peace of mind, do not pack yourself, wait a moment! Equipment? Since when are there teams in Double Dragon or Kunio-kun? This, which may sound weird because the Kunio-kun saga is a classic beat ’em up that practically defined the classic forms of the genre, has an explanation. One based on the bizarre conventions of the industry; It turns out that this collection also includes the many incursions of Kunio and Riki, the two protagonists of the saga, in all kinds of sports. We can play from soccer to dodgeball – the best game in the world and the best sports game in the Kunio-kun franchise – going through street basketball, a pseudo-Olympics, ice hockey or athletics, all under the classic prism super deformed and full of hosts like bread that would make the original saga famous.

In fact, speaking of the original saga, we have here all its maximum representatives, both the Japanese and Western versions. In this way, we can see the somewhat clumsy beginnings of the franchise with Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-kun, continue with the immortal classic that is Downtown Nekketsu Story, where the classic scream that the enemies would make when defeated (BARF!) In addition to the light RPG tints that would later imitate all the titles of the franchise, and also the best game of the classics and of the collection, Downtown Special: Kunio-kun’s Historical Period Drama !, a spin-off that transports us to feudal Japan and which merely polishes and adds more detail to the already excellent Downtown Nekketsu Story.

And what about Double Dragon? Well, precisely what you would expect in a collection of classics: its original trilogy. From its excellent first installment, its improved but controversial sequel and the more than questionable, but tremendously ambitious third part, we have here all the Double Dragon that really matters. The one with pixels as fists.

So far it is clear that there is much and good, but what does this collection do to be worthy of our time and money? Essentially, giving us classic games, that we already know and love, in their best possible aspect. Adding both the western and Japanese versions, giving us the possibility to play the original versions or corrected versions that solve certain bugs or graphic failures of the originals and respecting the original aspect ratio at all times by adding bands on the sides with images extracted from the art original to the game, the collection is a pampered, well thought-out compilation that will delight any fan of the Kunio-kun saga, all while making a classic saga abused in the West accessible and easy to play for those who still don’t know it. .

An external saving system, an optimal game loading and organization system and a fairly clear and intuitive selection menu, inherited from what we saw in the mini consoles, as well as an optimal online game system, which does not contribute to this. He makes big brags, but he does the job. All these are details that, although they are not revolutionary in any way, make life more pleasant for those who want to get closer to the game and perhaps more peck among them than dedicate their soul to one in particular. And he’s especially grateful when one of the most recent installments in the series, the remarkable River City Girls, lacked any online functionality.

About the games themselves, little can be said that has not already been said until exhaustion … or that we have not said a few paragraphs ago. Downtown Nekketsu Story and Downtown Special: Kunio-kun’s Historical Period Drama! they are two exceptional titles that, even today, work like a charm. The first two Double Dragon, while feeling old, are still a joy to play. And sports games, especially dodgeball, soccer, and track games, continue to perform just as well as the first day, given their relative simplicity and more markedly arcade focus. They have that kind of light-hearted gameplay that’s harder to find in sports titles these days.

It is true that that does not mean that it has what some will consider as defects. Some will not understand the need to introduce repeating games just because the name and color of the sprites change. Who is missing some example of more recent games in the series, especially considering that the most modern that has been introduced is Nekketsu! Street Basket: Ganbare Dunk Heroes, which is from 1993, leaving out more than fifteen years of franchise history, and some of its more interesting titles, out of the collection. But to that the possible complaints that we can find to the collection are summarized; that is exactly what is promoted, a collection of the classics of the saga including all foreign versions.

That’s why it’s hard not to embrace this collection with some enthusiasm, because it does an excellent job of preserving classic titles, many of them perfectly playable today, while also discovering them for a new generation. It is true that we could miss that it included more recent deliveries, versions of different consoles and not only the NES and SNES; in short, that it would give us more than it already gives us. But even as it is, Double Dragon & Kunio-kun Retro Brawler Bundle is a very interesting compilation of retro games, which deserves the love of every fan of that genre that never ends up dying popularly known as me against the neighborhood.