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Video Game / Kunio-kun

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Kunio (in white), Riki (in blue), and all of their friends.
The series' catchphrase.

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 re-release 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 and an MMORPG known as Kunio Online: Yamada's Revenge was planned to come out soon, but they were said to be put on hold and are more likely canceled currently. Soon, 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. An offical sequel of River City Ransom, titled River City Ransom: Underground has been released in 2017 by Canadian indie developer Conatus Creative, with series creator Yoshihisa Kishimoto as a creative consultant on the project.

The Kunio Kun franchise was later bought, alonside a few other former Technos properties, by Arc System Works.

In 1991, a manga titled Ore Wa Otoko Da! Kunio-kun was made. The manga was based on the games, but with a Denser and Wackier twist. Check out the page for it here.

List of Kunio-kun games

  • Renegade / Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun (Arcade, Famicom/NES, PS2)
  • Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun: Bangai Rantō Hen (Game Boy): Pseudo-sequel to Renegade; was modified and released overseas as Double Dragon II for the Game Boy.
  • River City Ransom / Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari / Street Gangs (Famicom/NES, X68000, PCE, GBA)
  • Downtown Special: Kunio-kun no Jidaigeki Dayo Zen'in Shūgō (Famicom, GB)
  • Shodai Nekketsu Koha Kuniokun (SFC)
  • Shin Nekketsu Kōha: Kunio-tachi no Banka (SFC)
  • Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun Special (3DS)
  • Riki Densetsu (3DS)
  • River City: Tokyo RumbleRiver City: Tokyo Rumble / Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun SP: Rantō Kyōsōkyoku (3DS)
  • River City: Knights of Justice / Nekketsu Mahou Monogatari (3DS)
  • Downtown Nekketsu Jidaigeki (3DS)
  • River City: Rival Showdown / Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari SP (3DS)
  • River City Ransom: Underground (Windows, Linux and MacOS through Steam)
    Nekketsu sports tournament games 
  • Super Dodge Ball /Nekketsu Kōkō Dodgeball Bu (Arcade, X68000, Famicom/NES, PCE, PS2)
    • A modified Game Boy version was released titled Nekketsu Kōkō Dodgeball Bu: Kyōteki! Dodge Soldier no Maki
  • Nintendo World Cup / Nekketsu Kōkō Dodgeball Bu: Soccer Hen (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)
  • Super Dodge Ball / Kunio no Nekketsu Dodgeball Densetsu (Neo-Geo)
  • Super Dodgeball Brawlers / Chō Nekketsu Kōkō Kunio-kun: Dodgeball Bu (DS)
  • River City Soccer Hooligans / Kunio-kun no Chō Nekketsu! Soccer League Plus: World Hyper Cup Hen (DS)
  • Downtown Smash Dodgeball (Xbox 360)
    • Downtown Nekketsu Dodgeball (Wii and PC)
    Multi-sport games 
  • Downtown Nekketsu Kōshinkyoku: Soreyuke Dai Undōkai (Famicom, PCE)
    • Ported to the Game Boy as Downtown Nekketsu Kōshinkyoku: Dokodemo Dai Undōkai
  • Crash 'n' the Boys: Street Challenge / Bikkuri Nekketsu Shinkiroku! Harukanaru Kin Medal (Famicom/NES)
    • Ported to the Game Boy as Bikkuri Nekketsu Shinkiroku! Dokodemo Kin Medal
  • River City Super Sports Challenge / Kunio-kun no Chō Nekketsu! Dai Undōkai (DS)
  • River City Super Sports Challenge: All Star Special / Kunio-kun no Chō Nekketsu! Dai Undōkai (PS3, PC)
  • River City Melee: Battle Royale Special / Downtown Nekketsu Kōshinkyoku: Kachinuki Kakutō SP (PS4, PC)

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. That said, the trope has been around since the first game with Misuzu.
    • There are more girls in different teams participating in the games in River City Sports Challenge: All-Star Special.
  • American Kunio Is Hardcore: And so is Japanese Kunio, but the American boxarts have traditionally gone for a less Animesque approach.
  • Artifact Title: After Atlus and Arc System Works picked up the series, they decided to go with the Japanese names, but kept "River City" moniker as the localized title.
  • 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.
  • Blood Knight: Most of the delinquents in the series. Kunio in particular is usually seen with a Slasher Smile just before a scripted fight begins in Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari SP.
  • 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.
  • Canon Discontinuity: After the first game in the series got localized for the overseas audiences, it spun off a completely new series by accident. By Ocean's hand, Renegade was followed by Target: Renegade and Renegade 3: The Final Chapter. The first sequel does share the aesthetics of the original game and, given it was produced one year after Double Dragon, its' just-mentioned Spiritual Successor. The second sequel, however, became a derailment on its' own. Meta.
    • In addition, the Game Boy Advance edition of the Super Dodgeball series inexplicably dropped the Kunio cast, even in Japanese.
    • It's also been suggested that the Nekketsu Kouha and Downtown Nekketsu branches of the series may be Alternate Timelines, as it's never really explained how they connect, and some things are different in them; ie, Kunio and Riki having different girlfriends.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Using your equipped, undroppable weapon in the 3DS Jidaigeki remake will cost some of your vitality every time you use it, meaning that if you use it too much, only your stamina will protect you from being KO'd. However, the extra damage and range makes using them well worth it for some characters who don't have a very good unarmed special skill.
  • 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 Dodgeball. 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.
  • 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.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • Riki in Riki Densetsu for Nintendo 3DS.
    • Sugata takes the lead in Downtown Nekketsu Baseball Monogatari.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: In Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun SP: Rantō Kyōsōkyoku/River City Tokyo Rumble, two out of four of the original Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun/Renegade bosses become Kunio's allies after you beat them. Riki, however, joins you without needing to fight him.
  • 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.
  • Gonk: Misuzu, a delinquent woman with a body more suited for a giant wrestler. Notably, in the 3DS-era Nekketsu Kunio-Kun games, while all the other characters uses Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari/River City Ransom-style NES sprites, Misuzu just uses an updated version of her spriteset from the NES version of Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun/Renegade.
  • 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.
  • The Hyena: While the cast is mostly silent, Godai is easy imagine as such because he's always grinning widely.
  • Improbable Weapon User:
    • Any time the games use weapons, expect them to often become improbable.
    • 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.
  • No Holds Barred Beat Down: Can be this in the side-scrolling beat em' ups. You'll either be the one on the receiving end or the one delivering it.
  • Non-Action Guy: Hiroshi, whom you often have to either rescue, escort or avenge in the games he appears in.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Godai (a.k.a. Tex), with his huge eyes and his wide grin, looks more like he came out of an episode of The Simpsons.
  • Non-Uniform Uniform: Kunio's signature white uniform is apparently the privilege of the school guardian (although a few games depict all Nekketsu students wearing them).
  • 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.
  • The Pawns Go First: In the first Kunio Kun game (as well as its Western localization Renegade), Kunio fights Mooks while the stage's boss would hang to the side and watch. When you were down to two or three mooks, the boss would then join in the fight.
  • Prequel: Riki Densetsu depicts what Riki was up to before he confronts Kunio in Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun Special.
  • Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: Riki's trademark attack, the Mach Punch.
  • Red Baron: Shinji is often known as the Blue Emperor.
  • Retraux: Starting from Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun Special, the modern Kunio-kun titles have reverted back to NES-style sprites for the in-game character designs, though the amount of detail put into them is more than what the actual NES is capable of.
  • 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.
  • Signature Move:
    • In most games, Kunio/Alex has a rapid-fire kick as his special move. His rival, Riki/Ryan, uses a similar move in the form of Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs.
    • The Double Dragon brothers, Ryuichi and Ryuji/Randy and Andy, being obviously based off of Billy and Jimmy Lee from Double Dragon, both have a devastating aerial whirlwind kick. Additionally, Ryuichi, who has more kicking power, usually has the flying knee as his second special attack, while Ryuji, who has more punching power, gets the hyper uppercut.
    • Gōda/Ivan has a powerful headbutt.
    • Godai/Tex, a practitioner of stick-fighting, can use a Spin Attack if he gets his hands on a stick or any weapon resembling a stick.
    • Onizuka/Otis can perform a Spin Attack bare-handed.
    • Kobayashi/Thor has a series of hand chops that is similar to Kunio and Riki's special moves.
    • Nishimura/Rocko has a powerful punch that can be charged for additional damage, or must be charged entirely before releasing, depending on the game.
    • Yamada/Slick/Simon has the inexplicable ability to telekinetically levitate all dropped weapons in the area, before sending them all hurtling towards the nearest victim for lots of damage. It's so prevalent that it appears in River City Ransom Underground despite the fact that he didn't have this ability in the original NES game.
    • Sugata has a hopping punch that acts somewhat like Ryuichi's knee strike, except it's usually faster and lower to the ground.
    • Saotome has the Aura Punch, a charged attack that leaves him wide open while charging, but lets him punch all enemies in a line in front of him.
    • Sabu just has a really powerful handgun.
  • Smug Snake: Toudou is portrayed 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.
  • Spiritual Successor: Technos would later move on to produce another, more popular beat 'em up series, Double Dragon. Not to say that Billy and Jimmy even look like Riki and Kunio a bit, especially like the latter in his early appearances.
  • Thinly-Veiled Dub Country Change: The few games in the series that were localized for the overseas market would feature redrawn graphics for their export versions in order to downplay their Japan-centric nature, such as replacing the school uniforms worn by the characters in River City Ransom with jeans and t-shirts or switching the nationalities of certain teams in Super Dodge Ball. However, the Game Boy Advance version of River City Ransom kept the school uniforms for the characters, despite the English localization giving all the characters and gangs Anglicized names.
  • Took A Level In Bad Ass: 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.
    • Yamada is at the peak of his power in Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari SP. In his final boss form, his telekinesis move now automatically creates a horde of rocks on the spot for him to throw if there isn't enough to reach the weapon number cap... and the damage it causes is usually more than enough to reimburse the SP cost of that move. If that wasn't enough, he also has both Kunio and Riki's flurry punch/kick moves and a very powerful takedown super move that utterly devastates any single opponent if it connects.
  • 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.
  • Unexpected Genre Change: Downtown Special: Kunio-kun no Jidaigeki Dayo Zen'in Shūgō shifts the entire plot, character, and mechanics of the series into a Jidaigeki Samurai-era period piece.
  • 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!
    • Some characters have special moves that only work when they have a specific weapon in hand, like Godai's Spin Attack with a stick.
  • World of Badass
  • Would Hit a Girl: Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun, aka "Renegade" in America, had in its third stage an all-girl gang whose members either wielded chain whips (both versions) and either handbags (Japan) or spiked maces (US), and the "boss" of that level was a BIG woman who could beat the daylights out of you if you got too close to her.

Example of: