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Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-kun: The grandaddy of beat-'em-ups returns

Having a brawl with a classic...

Hidden away from the lights and the glamour of the big-name publishers and developers at TGS was this little gem of a game, all alone in the centre of Arc System Works' booth.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Renegade, the game that introduced unsung hero Kunio-kun the hot-blooded punk to arcades around the world. After trying his hand at ice hockey, baseball, dodgeball and football, he finally returns to his brawling roots in this 3DS remake of the original, using later sequel River City Ransom's cutesier superdeformed style. And sliding the 3D to max treats you to some 3D styling that's less offensive than that found in 3D 'Classics': Xevious.

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The TGS arcade mode demo had us punching through groups of thugs on a train station platform, jump-kicking bikers off their bikes in a bike-parking lot out at sea and knocking out troublemakers at the local cinema. The more skilled retro gamers among you may be pleased to hear the game is rock-hard difficulty wise - so much so that we struggled to make it past the third stage.

The new Story mode is overseen by the original game's creator, Yoshihisa Kishimoto. It's that age-old Japanese rite of passage: regular high school student takes on all of the yakuza single-handedly, one mob at a time. Arcade mode focuses less on the story,
and more on beating goons senseless in pursuit of a high score.

Battle Royal mode boasts four-player local download play "dream matches", with characters from many Kunio-kun games reuniting for the first time in decades. Mission mode offers wireless co-op and throws much harder challenges your way. SpotPass functionality is also present in the Card Battle mode, and the Gallery mode has 25 years' worth of promotional posters, game boxes and character art to help you get your retro groove on.

Unfortunately, only one of the three Kunio-kun games created for the DS made it to Europe in the shape of Super Dodgeball Brawlers. We can only hope this revival will see our shores too. With Kishimoto, also the designer of Double Dragon, strongly involved with the project this is certainly the one to watch for retro beat-'em-up fans.

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