Arc System Works Celebrates “River City Ransom’s” 35th Anniversary With the Start of a New “Kunio-Kun” Game Project

Arc System Works 35th Year Anniversary

Fighting game god Arc System Works has been confirmed to be currently working on a brand new Kunio-kun series game.

This is part of a larger spanning game title project to celebrate the eponymous series’ 35th anniversary this year.

Speeding up the Already Raving Festivities

Yes, before you ask, it is Arc System Works who now officially owns the Kunio-kun franchise.

The 35th year celebration was promptly unveiled with a project announcement that is hopefully set to push the franchise further forward with modern titles and present-day promotions. This is, of course, in support of the already more recent third-party-developed Kunio-kun titles greenlit by Arc System Works in the last few years.

1. Kunio-kun Series Symphony Sale!

Technically the first part of the promotion (the part that players can immediately avail) is the super sale event for the entire compendium of available classic Kunio-kun series titles. For just a hundred yen (1 USD) each, you can download all of the titles on your PS4 (PS5) or Nintendo Switch. The sale amounts to about a 80% total discount.

As for the event itself, it is ongoing right now (along with other Arc System Works discount sale sprees), but is scheduled to end next week on June 2nd, 2021.

2. au Smart Pass Premium Availability!

Those who are currently subscribed to au Smart Pass Premium Classic Games service will also find a good number of Kunio-kun titles freely available to play very soon. Not all titles are to be included at the start of the promo, but more will be added as it goes on. Oh, and no microtransactions! (duh)

3. Further igniting the modern Kunio-kun franchise!

Celebrating the 35th “memorial year” of the timeless brawler classic, Arc System Works plans to collaborate further with its development partners to release a set of new games that will continue the legacy started by other Kunio-kun titles of the recent years. As of now, though, details remain very scant. Also, because it had just been officially initiated this May, it will take a while before we can get any tangible updates about any new titles in the production line. Stay tuned!

River City Ransom… What?

【伊東市×熱血硬派くにおくん】熱湯!まくら投げ in 伊東市

For the uninitiated, Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-kun, localized in the West as River City Ransom, was a brawler game developed and published by Technos Japan originally for arcade cabinets (1986), but was eventually ported to the NES/Famicom (1987). If you are familiar with similar brawler classics such as Double Dragon, then the gameplay of the original Kunio-kun should be very familiar to you.

Since then, the series has enjoyed consistent new releases every few months or years, often spicing up the otherwise generic genre platform into other types of gameplay that would still involve the eponymous main character and his rivals. For example, Nekketsu Koukou Dodgeball-bu (Gameboy, PC Engine, 1991), another smash hit title from the franchise, introduces an alternative dodgeball game, as its title implies. Instead of simply throwing and dodging balls until the last man is out, players are free to punch and beat their opponents, or disrupt their strategies in physically brutal ways.

After Technos Japan went out of business in 1996, new Kunio-kun game title releases completely stopped until its acquisition by Million sometime during the early 2000’s. However, before the end of the first decade, Arc System Works finally took over, continuing the new stream of Kunio-kun titles restarted by Million.

River City Girls Official Launch Trailer

One of the most recently notable third-party Kunio-kun titles was River City Girls, released last September 2019. It featured an alternative story that focuses on the girlfriends of the main characters, Kyoko and Misako, who had to save the day after “questionable” authorities captured their boyfriends. Unlike most Kunio-kun games that consistently preserve the original 8/16-bit graphics (or graphical look) of the series in one form or another, River City Girls features a brand new, fancier art style, though still firmly sporting that classic 2D-era brawler look.

Is it Too Much to Ask for an Unreal Kunio-kun?

Arc System Works in recent years has been on a total roll when it comes to showcasing its use of the Unreal Engine. Guilty Gear Xrd, Guilty Gear Strive, Dragon Ball Fighterz, and Granblue Fantasy Versus are some of the most visually stunning fighting games to date. That brilliant use of a super highly-quality cel-shaded look, preserving the quality of the image artwork while still making their motions convincingly mobile for a true fighting game.

So we ask, is it too much to ask for an Unreal Engine-based Kunio-kun game for this franchise project? Well, maybe it is. But it’s good wishful thinking, at least.


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