Nostalgia’s a gold mine when it comes to the video game world. A lot of us grew up gaming, after all. We’ve got favorites. These days, we might also have disposable income, so playing to our favorites could be a great way to get paid. The Double Dragon & Kunio-Kun Retro Brawler Bundle is all about doing just that – reaching deep into your soul for that 2D retro brawler love and dredging it out. This bundle comes with eighteen NES games, including the three Double Dragon titles, and a selection from the beloved Kunio-Kun (or River City Ransom) series.
What you’ve got here is a vast and impressive collection from the early days of Arc System Works. Sure, they’re not all going to hold your attention for days at a time, but I’d argue that River City Ransom alone is worth the asking price. I’ll even say that knowing that the asking price is $40. River City Ransom is just that good. If you can’t afford that, go beat up some rival high schoolers so they BARF and cough up some cash. As mentioned, there’s eighteen games here, though the number’s probably closer to fourteen given that you’ve got both the English and Japanese versions of River City Ransom, Renegade, Super Dodge Ball and Crash n’ The Boys Street Challenge. It’s unlikely you’ll feel the need to play both…except for River City Ransom since, well, who doesn’t want to play as much of that game as possible?
What’s left is some of the highest points of classic gaming. If you were a kid growing up with the NES you almost certainly have a special place in your heart for the Double Dragon series and River City Ransom. The rest of the collection follows along the same lines, including a bizarre school play take called Downtown Special Kunio-kun’s Historical Period Drama! – basically River City Ransom In Antiquity-Era Japan. It’s strange and fascinating, as are most of the games here. There’s Kunio-flavored takes on ice hockey, basketball, dodgeball and more, each involving as much combat as sportsmanship. Out of the more sporty games, I’m a big fan of Super Dodge Ball, which is hilarious both as a single-player game and as a competitive romp with a friend. Sure, you’re hitting each other with dodgeballs so hard that people die, but don’t let that stop you.
All the games are presented in a pretty accurate format, though you’ve got a few display options to futz around with if you’d like to adjust how things look. More importantly, many games include improved versions that correct bugs and eliminate sprite flicker, which is wonderful – but it’s actually more wonderful that you don’t have to use these. If you want that authentic experience, well, you’ve got to have slowdown and sprite flicker. Aside from that, you’ve got the now-standard save slots for each game and so on. One thing you don’t tend to get is a lot of guidance on how each game works – there’s blurbs, but they’re not exactly strategy guides – so you’ll probably want to check online to get a clue about what the Hell’s happening in the stranger games like Street Basketball and Field Day. The default controller configuration can also be a little awkward, with buttons you’d expect to be bound to the Options button on the PS4 controller.
Either way, these are minor nitpicks. It’s rare to find this level of nostalgia all concentrated in one place…well, unless it’s Capcom giving it to you with Mega Man collections. The fact that a significant number of the games in the Double Dragon & Kunio-Kun Retro Brawler Bundle are newly localized is nothing to sneeze at, representing an undiscovered trove of retro goodness that many players won’t have had the chance to experience. That said, while $40 may seem a little steep, I’d argue that it’s a worthy price for this bundle, particularly if you’ve got a friend for a team-up or a beat-up.