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Kunio-kun
くにおくん

 
 
One of trickiest things about the Kunio-kun series is how to make head or tail of it.
The original Kunio-kun (1986) was a groundbreaking arcade action game, released worldwide as 'Renegade'.
The second Kunio game, Dodgeball (1987), feels a lot more like a 'spin-off' - it's just as violent, funny and full of character, but is sport-based. Both games were hugely popular on the Famicom, so it was no surprise to see the third game Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari (1989) developed exclusively for the format.
Released as 'River City Ransom' in the US, the game returns to Kunio's action roots and became a bona fide cult classic. It has everything: 2-player gameplay, an unforgettable visual style and a uniquely off-the-wall sense of humour.
After Soccer Hen (1990) it was clear which direction the series was taking: none. By 1992-1993 Technos went into overdrive, literally releasing dozens of Kunio titles.
Listing every Kunio game would be a bore. Also, a lot of them aren't that good - so we've put them into 'categories' with every variant and spin-off presented on the same page.
After Technos' demise in 1996 the series went quiet, before being picked up by Million in 2001. They immediately produced a handheld 'EX' update of River City Ransom and 3 Famicom compilations for the GBA.
Arc System Works have since produced a few hadheld DS titles (below), but they're really more than handheld tributes - the series still awaits a return worthy of the name.
 

Latest releases:

 

GBA River City Ransom EX
 

GBA Collection 1
 

GBA Collection 2
 

GBA Collection 3
 

 

DS Dodgeball
 

DS Soccer
 

DS Athletic
 

3DS Kunio-kun
 


Series breakdown:

 
Kunio-kun
The arcade Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun (1986) is where it all started. Released as 'Renegade' outside of Japan, it remains a landmark of the arcade action genre. The Famicom version appeared in April 1987, and proved just as popular.
As the series veered off into different sub-genres, it eventually returned to classic Kunio-kun action first on the Game Boy (1990), followed by two Super Famicom releases (1992, 1994). Sadly both SFC games are ruined by excessive amounts of text.
In 2006 the original arcade game was re-issued on the PS2, before getting a massive overhaul in the Nintendo 3DS Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun Special (2011).
 
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Dodgeball
Nekketsu Kōkō Dodgeball Bu (1987) started off the most widespread of the Kunio-kun spin-offs.
Simple, fun and hilarious 4-player, this chaotic Dodgeball game has appeared on over 10 different formats. A second arcade edition on Neo Geo hardware, Kunio no Nekketsu Tōkyu Densetsu (1996) was Technos' very last production before they went bust.
The game was ported onto the Famicom (1988), X68000 (1988) and PC Engine (1990) before being re-issued on PS2 in 2006.
Variants also appeared for the Game Boy (1991), Super Famicom (1993), Game Boy Advance (2001) and Nintendo DS (2008).
 
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Downtown (River City Ransom)
The 3rd game was Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari (1989), a superb 2-player action game originally for the 8-bit Nintendo.
It became a massive hit as 'River City Ransom' in the US and 'Street Gangs' in Europe, and for good reason: it is arguably the best 2-player action game for the Famicom - and given the competition that's really saying something.
The game was also released on X68000 (1990) and PC Engine (1993), before eventually being updated on GBA as 'Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari EX' (2004).
 
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Soccer
Back to sport in Nekketsu Kōkō Dodgeball Bu Soccer Hen (1990), where Kunio and crew take to the pitch to let off some steam. Released internationally as 'Nintendo World Cup', this one of the few Kunio games to get a lot of worldwide exposure - with mixed results. Its character designs and extreme violence confused a few (you can easily K.O. the entire opposing team) but for most with a sense of humour it was great fun - especially 4-player.
Originally released on Famicom (1990), then ported (in various forms) on Game Boy (1991), PC Engine CD (1991), PC Engine (1992), Mega Drive (1992), then finished off with a 'Soccer League' update for the Famicom (1993).
 
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Athletic
Downtown Nekketsu Kōshinkyoku (1990) 'The Great Athletic Meet' is one of the series' high points.
After the 2-player chaos of the first 'Downtown' game, Tehcnos push things even further in this 4-player racing / fighting game, essentially an angry mix of street violence and Hyper Olympic (1983).
Race to the right of the screen while beating the shit out of your friends. Brilliant.
Released on Famicom (1990), Game Boy (1992) and PC Engine Super CD (1992), and more recently still brought back on the Nintendo DS by Arc System Works.
 
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Downtown Special (Period Piece)
Downtown Special (1991) 'Kunio-kun's Period Piece' follows directly in the footsteps of Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari (1989): 2-player arcade action, except that this time the game is set in medieval Japan, spoofing both the fighting game genre and classic japanese theatre.
Released on Famicom (1991) and Game Boy (1993).

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Ice Hockey
Nekketsu Hockey Bu (1992) is an anarchic ice hockey game for the Famicom, similar to the delirious Soccer Hen (1990) but in the ice rink, with even more (slightly more justified) fisticuffs.

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Olympic
 
Bikkuri Nekketsu Shinkiroku! (1992) "The Distant Gold Medal" provides more 4-player events, sequel to Downtown Nekketsu Kōshinkyoku (1990) but with more of a genuine 'olympic' setup.
Released on Famicom (1992) and Game Boy (1993).
 
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Fighting
 
Nekketsu Kakutō Densetsu ( 1992) - 4-player versus fighting game similar to Smash Brothers.
Famicom.
 
 

 
 
1993 - Madcap basketball game full of classic Famicom Kunio action. Also the final Kunio-kun release on the Famicom.
 
 

 
Baseball
 
Downtown Nekketsu Baseball Monogatari: Yakyū de Shōbu da! Kunio-kun (1993) was Technos' second SFC Kunio-kun release, a rather dull and uneventful interactive baseball game.
Not the best the series has to offer.
 
 

 
Kunio no Oden
くにおのおでん
 
1994 - Standard well-type puzzle game featuring Kunio and a lot of processed food.
 
 

 
Nekketsu! Beach Volley Dayo Kunio-kun
熱血! ビーチバレーだよ くにおくん
 
1994 - Average handheld beach volleyball action, and the beginning of the end for Technos. The Neo Geo version of the dodgeball game, 'Kunio no Nekketsu Tōkyu Densetsu' (1996) will be their last ever release.
 
 


 
Kunio-kun Nekketsu Collection 1
くにおくん 熱血コレクション1
GAME BOY ADVANCE
DETAILS
Format Game Boy Advance
Released 25 Aug 2005
Publisher Atlus
Product ID AGB-B9AJ-JPN
Size (cm) 13.5 x 8.5 x 2
Weight (kg) 0.07
PRICE
STATUS
First in a set of three 2-in-1 collections for GBA, featuring the Famicom versions of:
- Nekketsu Kōkō Dodgeball Bu
- Nekketsu Street Basket
Both games remain identical to their original editions.

Standard GBA cardboard packaging, 32Mbit cartridge, booklet.

Kunio-kun Nekketsu Collection 2
くにおくん 熱血コレクション2
GAME BOY ADVANCE
DETAILS
Format Game Boy Advance
Released 27 Oct 2005
Publisher Atlus
Product ID AGB-B9BJ-JPN
Size (cm) 13.5 x 8.5 x 2
Weight (kg) 0.07
PRICE
STATUS
Second Kunio-kun collection for GBA, this time featuring:
- Downtown Nekketsu Kōshinkyoku
- Dodgeball Bu Soccer Hen
Both games remain identical to their original Famicom versions.

Standard GBA cardboard packaging, 32Mbit cartridge, booklet.

Kunio-kun Nekketsu Collection 3
くにおくん 熱血コレクション3
GAME BOY ADVANCE
DETAILS
Format Game Boy Advance
Released 16 Feb 2006
Publisher Atlus
Product ID AGB-B9CJ-JPN
Size (cm) 13.5 x 8.5 x 2
Weight (kg) 0.07
PRICE
STATUS
Third and final Kunio-kun collection for the GBA, featuring two classic Kunio games from their Famicom heyday:
- Downtown Special (1991)
- Nekketsu Hockey Bu (1992)
Both games remain identical to their original editions - i.e. just as ridiculous.

Standard GBA cardboard packaging, 32Mbit cartridge, booklet.

 

'Kunio-kun' and 'Technos' are registered trademarks of Technos Japan Corp.
'Game Boy Advance' and 'Nintendo' are registered trademarks of Nintendo Co., Ltd.
Kunio-kun TM & © 1986 Technos All Rights Reserved
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