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Kunio-kun ("Mr. Kunio") is the name given to the one-time mascot of Technos Japan Corp, a now defunct Japanese video game developer. He is named after Technos's former president, Kunio Taki. Along with his best friend/rival/sidekick Riki, and a variety of other characters cut from the same cloth, Kunio fights lots of guys in the street, competes in various sporting events (which are also pretty violent) and otherwise generally does what your typical Japanese high school student does.
Though the Kunio-kun series was successful in Japan, it was was never constantly released (or consistently localized) abroad, although at one time there were plans to localize more stateside under the Crash 'n The Boys label. In the rare case that games from the series did get released abroad, though, the series was generally beloved--if not exactly recognized. See, since there were never any ongoing plans to release the whole series outside Japan, the various games that did make it were localized in almost as many different ways as there were different games. The first Kunio game, Nekketsu Kōha Kunio Kun (roughly translated, "Hot-Blooded Tough Guy Mr. Kunio") got renamed Renegade and a heavy graphics alteration for its American release, although Kunio himself got a relatively accurate name, "Mr. K." However, the most notable game to make it to America is River City Ransom, known as Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari in Japan and Street Gangs in Europe, in which Kunio is renamed Alex, Riki is Ryan, and everyone else is renamed, as well. Other American releases were Crash 'n The Boys: Street Challenge (Bikkuri Nekketsu Shin Kiroku! Harukanaru Kin Medal), where Kunio is the titular Crash, and Super Dodge Ball and Nintendo World Cup, in which most evidence of a clear protagonist was lost. Another thing American players largely missed out on was that many of the Famicom games supported up to four players, thanks to an adapter that was incompatible with the NES. (Nintendo World Cup was the only localized Kunio game to support the equivalent NES peripheral.) Nonetheless, the series' wacky appeal crossed to America very much intact.
Sadly, Technos went bankrupt in 1996, and it appeared for a while that Kunio and his friends would be no more. Appearances can be deceiving; however, and in Kunio's case they fortunately were. Thanks in part to the cult following (though nothing larger) the series had gained in America, fond memories of the series persisted, and it helped that River City Ransom and Street Challenge both had endings that hinted sequels would come. As the internet became more common and more things that had never been released outside Japan became visible to American audiences, it was discovered that there were, indeed many sequels. Kunio fandom swelled online, with many of the Japan-only games being hacked and translated into English, and soon a small but very thorough attempt at producing fangames blossomed.
Though all of this online effort was still pretty subtle in real world terms, it presumably ignited a spark among former Technos employees, prompting their new company, Million, to purchase the rights to the Kunio series and rerelease many of the games, first for the Game Boy Advance, and then on the Wii Virtual Console. Eventually, Million began making new Kunio games, although thus far they've been essentially retreads of older ones. But the series still seems to be getting healthier and healthier. A Wii game has been rumored, a MORPG known as Kunio Online: Yamada's Revenge is coming soon, and for the first time, new entries in the series are all coming out in America, again under the River City name, although now the characters have their original Japanese names. A 25th Anniversary Special was released on December 16, 2011 on the Nintendo 3DS in Japan. Kunio may be fighting his way back into the big time!
Kunio beat-'em-up games:
- Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun/Renegade (Arcade, Famicom/NES, PS2)
- Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun: Bangai Rantō Hen (Game Boy). Pseudo-sequel toNekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun; was modified and released overseas as Double Dragon II for the Game Boy.
- Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari/River City Ransom/Street Gangs (Famicom/NES, X68000, PCE, GBA)
- Downtown Special: Kunio-kun no Jidaigeki Dayo Zen'in Shūgō (Famicom, GB)
- Shodai Nekketsu Koha Kunio-kun (SFC)
- Shin Nekketsu Kōha: Kunio Tachi no Banka (SFC)
Nekketsu sports tournament games:
- Nekketsu Kōkō Dodgeball Bu/Super Dodge Ball (Arcade, X68000, Famicom/NES, PCE, PS2)
- A modified Game Boy version was released titled Nekketsu Kōkō Dodgeball Bu: Kyōteki! Dodge Soldier no Maki
- Nekketsu Kōkō Dodgeball Bu: Soccer Hen/Nintendo World Cup (Famicom/NES, PCE [in Hucard and CD-ROM formats], X68000, Mega Drive)
- Ported to the Game Boy as Nekketsu Kōkō Soccer Bu: World Cup Hen, which took the international premise from the overseas version and converted back to the Kunio-kun version.
- Kunio-kun no Nekketsu Soccer League (Famicom)
- Ike Ike! Nekketsu Hockey Bu: Subette Koronde Dai Rantō (Famicom)
- Kunio-kun no Dodgeball Dayo Zenin Shūgō! (SFC)
- Nekketsu! Street Basket: Ganbare Dunk Heroes (Famicom)
- Downtown Nekketsu Baseball Monogatari: Yakyū de Shōbu da! Kunio-kun (SFC)
- Nekketsu! Beach Volley Dayo Kunio-kun (GB)
- Kunio no Nekketsu Dodgeball Densetsu/Super Dodge Ball (Neo-Geo)
- Chō Nekketsu Kōkō Kunio-kun: Dodgeball Bu/Super Dodgeball Brawlers (DS)
- Kunio-kun no Chō Nekketsu! Soccer League Plus: World Hyper Cup Hen/River City Soccer Hooligans (DS)
- Downtown Smash Dodgeball (Xbox 360)
- Downtown Nekketsu Kōshinkyoku: Soreyuke Dai Undōkai (Famicom, PCE)
- Ported to the Game Boy as Downtown Nekketsu Kōshinkyoku: Dokodemo Dai Undōkai
- Bikkuri Nekketsu Shinkiroku! Harukanaru Kin Medal/Crash N The Boys: Street Challenge (Famicom/NES)
- Ported to the Game Boy as Bikkuri Nekketsu Shinkiroku! Dokodemo Kin Medal
- Kunio-kun no Chō Nekketsu! Dai Undōkai/River City Super Sports Challenge (DS)
Other games in the series:
The Kunio-kun series contains examples of:
- Action Girl: Rare at first, and debatably applied in Kunio-tachi no Banka, but as of River City Super Sports Challenge played straight with Hiromi and her team.
- Looking to be continued straight in the MORPG, too.
- American Kunio Is Hardcore: And so is Japanese Kunio, but the American boxarts have traditionally gone for a less Animesque approach.
- Badass: Kunio, Riki, and much of the other members of the cast.
- Badass Adorable: The characters can routinely qualify because they're often super-deformed.
- Or hell; how about the whole series? After all, it features people who beat each other up one moment and happily trot into the mall to amiably order a meal the next!
- Badass Biker: Shinji and his gang.
- Bullfight Boss: Misuzu from Kunio-tachi no Banka. Her boss music even has a bit of a Spanish flair to it.
- You're better off running away from her and hitting her with a stopping back kick in the arcade original, so this also counts.
- Chain Pain: Chains are a staple weapon of this series.
- Contemptible Cover: While the original American and European box arts for River City Ransom and Street Gangs, respectively, are embarassingly distinct from that of the Japanese version, they still do a good job conveying the version of the game they contain. However, the American boxart for the remake is widely decried for the way it seems to clad the characters in clothing that seems hundreds of years too old-fashioned for the game and make them Super-Deformed in a different--and less appealing--way than they are in the game.
- Darker and Edgier / Lighter and Softer: There are essentially two branches of the Kunio series, the Nekketsu Kōha series spun from Renegade, and the Downtown Nekketsu series spun from River City Ransom and Super Dodge Ball. The former is the darker and edgier one, with more realistically-proportioned characters, more gritty villains resembling the actual Yakuza, and less slapstick-oriented violence, while the latter takes a more humorous, cartoonish, chibified approach to the whole ordeal. Kunio Tachi no Banka may be the darkest and edgiest of the lot, with conspiracy, the destruction of Nekketsu High School, and guns.
- The upcoming MORPG looks to be an interesting case, featuring art that is somehow both chibified and dark and edgy!
- Dark Is Not Evil: Despite his roughed up appearance (complete with bandaged face), rowdy behavior, and tendency to scowl or sneer, Kunio is actually a very nice guy.
- Delinquents: The main characters and half the people you fight.
- Faux Action Girl: Misako and Kyōko from Kunio-tachi no Banka border on being this. Though they can fight, and are the first girls to do so in a Kunio game, they're noticeably weaker than their male counterparts, and this extends all the way down to their sprites. In normal attacks, the girls slap instead of punch, and only kick at about shin or knee level compared to the boys who kick at stomach level. In special attacks, however, they look just as Badass as the boys do.
- Grievous Harm with a Body: A regular staple of mook fights in River City Ransom. Extends to the other player in co-op games!
- Huge Schoolgirl: Emphasis on the huge for Misuzu.
- Improbable Weapon User: Any time the games use weapons, expect them to often become improbable.
- Godai uses a kendo stick, which is actually pretty tame as far as this series goes.
- River City Super Sports Challenge practically takes the trope Up to Eleven, with some moves transforming thrown weapons into pizzas or teddy bears, for whatever reason. Also, don't think a grenade is an improbable weapon? Then remember this is a game about a triathlon!
- Improvised Weapon: If it can be picked up by Kunio and co., it becomes this.
- Jidai Geki: Downtown Special is River City Ransom Recycled IN FEUDAL JAPAN!
- Kick Chick: Misako is probably the best qualifier, with both an aerial spin kick and a mule kick at her disposal as special moves in Kunio-tachi no Banka. Perhaps strong kicks have something to do with why Kunio and Riki yield the task of torturing a confession out of a thug to her, and she very quickly gets it with a swift kick to the groin.
- Interestingly enough, Misako is also the manager of the school soccer team.
- Non-Action Guy: Hiroshi, whom you often have to either rescue, escort or avenge in the games he appears in.
- One Hit KO: What makes the final level of Nekketsu Kouha Kunio Kun so difficult. If Sabu's cronies don't get you with their ice picks, Sabu's handgun just might.
- Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: Riki's trademark attack, the Mach Punch.
- Red Baron: Shinji is often known as the Blue Emperor.
- Roaring Rampage of Rescue: The Famicom of version of Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun has Sabu kidnapping Hiroshi and Kunio must save him.
- The Rival: Riki to Kunio. In some games, such as Renegade or Crash N The Boys Street Challenge, he serves as a boss fight or foe.
- Sarashi: Riki. Mostly in artwork.
- Scenery Porn: Kunio Online: Revenge of Yamada has incredibly colorful, detailed and dynamic environments. What's even better is that they're still the ones you remember from River City Ransom!
- Screams Like a Little Girl: Inverted entirely with Misuzu. She's a humongous schoolgirl who's war cries and death screams sound masculine.
- Smug Snake: Toudou is protrayed as such, with a little mix of a rich jerkass due to being antagonistic towards Kunio, who has often bested him in sporting events. His father, who owns a big company, shows his respect for Kunio.
- The Hyena: While the cast is mostly silent, Godai is easy imagine as such because he's always grinning widely.
- Took a Level In Badass: Hasebe, who has done little more than serve as The Chick and Kunio's Unlucky Childhood Friend for almost the entirety of the series, displays martial arts talents for the first time ever in the upcoming MORPG.
- Trope Maker: The very first game, Nekketsu Kōha Kunio Kun/Renegade, pretty much created the foundations for the beat-em-up genre as we know it, foundations which would be built upon by Double Dragon and the game's own sequels.
- Tuckerization: Kunio is named after Technos Japan's former president and other characters are named after staff members as well.
- Yakuza: Sabu.
- Weapon of Choice: You'll never see Sabu without a firearm. He even has it handy in the Neo Geo version of Super Dodge Ball!
- What Could Have Been: As seen at the end of Crash 'n the Boys, Nekketsu Hockey Bu was planned to be released outside of Japan as Crash 'n the Boys: Ice Challenge, but the NES was unfortunately approaching the end of its lifespan.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Because it is. So, so much so!
- World of Badass