River City Melee Mach!! (PS4, Switch, PC)

In Japan there is a popular series of video games that has gone back since the 80s starring a character named Kunio-kun.  Kunio is a hot-blooded high school student who sometimes gets into fights and trouble, but always stands up for his friends and against bullies.  Kunio also likes to play sports and when he’s not beating up baddies, he’s competing in events like soccer or dodgeball.  Some of Kunio’s games have made it to the US under name or graphical changes.  If you’ve ever played a game like Renegade, River City Ransom, Crash N the Boyz Street Challenge, or Super Dodge Ball, then you’ve played a Kunio game!  Now all the characters in the Kunio series are gearing up for a four-player free-for-all martial arts tournament with River City Melee Mach!!  It’s available to download on PS4, Switch, and PC, but reviewed on PS4 here.

Gameplay is pretty simple.  Four players can jump, kick, and punch to attack each other and can combine button presses for special moves.  You can pick up items and other players and toss them around, too!  Each time you land a hit you get points.  Whoever has the most points at the end of the round, wins.  But make sure you don’t run out of energy because then you’re out of the round and can’t earn any more points.  You can choose various teams with different players on each, with more than a 100 characters total!  They really went all out on the fan service with the characters you can play as.  All the high schools and gangs from River City and Renegade, the spinoff characters from feudal Japan, the Double Dragon brothers, even Kunio and his soccer and dodge ball teams are playable!  All the characters are presented in their 8-bit River City Ransom style sprites, too.

The story mode is for single players and is all about the teams and high schools getting invitations to a free-for-all martial arts tournament, but some of these competitors are being secretly attacked so you’ve got to find out why.  Free Play mode lets you play a round against local players or the CPU.  And finally you can even play online.  Only main problem I had with this game is that it’s just way too hard and chaotic, even on the Easy settings.  I couldn’t even get past the first level in Story Mode, and I’ve beaten a few of the other games in the franchise, so I think I know what I’m doing.  I wish they would just make another Super Dodge Ball game.  Before Wii Sports came along, Super Dodge Ball was my favorite sports video game.

Kid Factor:

River City Melee Mach!! is rated T for Teen with ESRB descriptors of Mild Violence and Language.  I didn’t really notice any bad language in the text so it must be used sparingly.  You can punch, kick, and throw others, but the squatty 8-bit sprites negate a lot of the violence.  Reading skill is needed for the text, and younger players may find the game too difficult.

One Response to “River City Melee Mach!! (PS4, Switch, PC)”

  1. I was really into River City Ransom when I was a kid.

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