Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Rival Schools

Go To
Bound By Honor, United By Fate
"In a time when the minds of youth should be happy and free, a war is about to explode! High school students have become the victims of random attacks and kidnappings. With police proving to be no match for the villains, the students themselves now rise to take matters into their own hands!"
The opening quotes from the arcade intro of Rival Schools: United by Fate

Rival Schools, known as Justice Gakuen (lit. "Justice Academy") in Japan, was one of Capcom's attempts to make a 3D Fighting Game. The result was a 2½D fighter which was fought on a 2D plane but spun the camera around to give the illusion of 3D, particularly when someone got catapulted into the air. The original used flat (though animated) backgrounds whereas the sequel went polygonal in that regard. The games are slightly tongue-in-cheek and take place in a world where ghosts exist, high schools can afford their own superdomes, the best academy is run by a retired ninja, students (and teachers!) brawl at the drop of a hat, and most never change out of their school attire.

The first game, Rival Schools: United By Fate, was released in arcades in 1997 and for the Sony PlayStation the following year. Students from all over Aoharu City have been mysteriously disappearing, and teams of Japanese Delinquents unite to identify the mastermind behind it: Hyo Imawano, a Sephiroth clone with a knack for brainwashing people over to his cause—including his uncle Raizo, the juiced-up principal of his school.

Players form teams of two: teammates can tag-in between rounds or deliver an extra punch or health/energy boost, depending on the character. This setup was borrowed from Marvel vs. Capcom 1 and later made its way into a few King of Fighters games.

The PlayStation port added several Mini Games , as well as a character creation mode based on a Dating Sim. Due to the daunting task of translating it into other languages, the latter never made it outside Japan. Fortunately, all of the other home version extras made it in. In Japan, the game was re-released with a revamped character creation mode, along with two new fighters (who also show up in the sequel). In 2012, the PlayStation port of United By Fate was re-released as part of Sony's PSN Classics program in Japan.

It was followed by Project Justice, released in arcades in 2000 and for the Dreamcast the following year. An imposter Batsu (the hot-headed shotoclone advertised in both games) is running around sowing the seeds of tension and distrust among the gangs, which threatens to spark another war between the schools. The culprit, who happens to be an incognito ninja assassin named Kurow, conspires to punish Raizo's family for leaving their clan. Kurow winds up being dethroned by Hyo, who has supposedly turned over a new leaf—but is still haunted by the malevolent ghost of his late father Mugen.

The same students and teachers, plus Kurow's "Darkside Student Congress" and some demon-possessed regulars, are included in the roster. Gameplay-wise, teams are upped to three characters per side, which adds an additional 2-person Team-Up move, along with 3-character combos à la MvC. Once again, the Japanese version had a character creation mode, this time in the form of board games (in the vein of Mario Party) which were all the rage at the time.

The games are pretty obscure and, due to legal issues, a follow-up isn't likely anytime soon. Capcom doesn't seem to have forgotten about it, though: Kyosuke is playable in Capcom vs. SNK 2 (with Batsu and Hinata making a cameo appearance in one of his super moves) and other characters have either cameoed or made playable appearances in Namco × Capcom (Hideo and Kyoko), Tatsunoko vs. Capcom (Batsu, Hinata, Kyosuke, and Raizo), Project × Zone (Batsu), and Street Fighter V (Hinata, Tiffany, Daigo, Edge, Gan, and Akira, the latter of whom would eventually become Promoted to Playable); Word of God stated via Twitter that Rival Schools and Street Fighter share the same universe.

This series provides examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: Zig zagged; the games clearly explain the story and most characters' motivations, but if you want to know more about the characters, you have play through the character creation modes only available in the Japanese versions.
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: "Illusional Space" (Hyo's stage) in the first game.
  • Amazon Brigade: The Seijyun High team of Akira, Yurika and Zaki in Project Justice. Zaki's all-female gang, the Ladies Team, also might count, but not all of them fit the trope's requirement of being attractive.
  • Animated Actors: One of the animated endings in the PlayStation version has the characters portrayed as actors filming a movie, with Raizo as the director of the production. Rivalries aside, their actor personas are still surprisingly in-character.
  • Anime Theme Song: "Atsuki Kodou", the intro theme for the PlayStation version of United By Fate.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: The climax of Project Justice. The heroes reunite on the steps of Justice High, which Demon Hyo has set aflame.
  • Battle Aura: Hyo gets a permanent Battle Aura when he gets possessed by his dead father Mugen at the end of the second game and becomes "Demon Hyo."
  • Battle in the Rain: The penultimate fight in Project Justice takes place in a rain-soaked quarry.
  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn and Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The Seijyun High team, with Yurika, Akira and Zaki fulfilling each role in both tropes in that order.
  • Bootstrapped Theme: Long after the games' releases, the themes for "Classroom of Taiyo High" became the Leitmotif of the games themselves. Batsu tends to use "On the Rooftop of Taiyo High" when he appears in crossover games.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Daigo (twice) and Raizo. Also in terms of the in-game story Kyoko, Hideo, Roy, Boman, Tiffany and Shoma also fall victim to this. However...
    • It's not just them. Ultimately it's the whole basis of the plot (especially for the first game) and depending on who you do NOT choose to be your partner from the three characters from each school ALL the major characters can theoretically fall victim to this trope just before the end of the game. After the other two characters fight said character they snap out of the brainwashing by The Power of Friendship.
  • Canon Immigrant: Much like Karin and Evil Ryu in Street Fighter, Hayato Nekketsu was an original character in a manga spin-off (a short for a mook, Shiritsu Justice Gakuen Gaiden) who got added to the games. But unlike those two, he is not owned by Capcom, making him partly a Guest Fighter. He appears in at least one other work by his creator, Kazuhiko Shimamoto.
  • Character Customization: Both games have this feature but neither of them made it outside of Japan, due to the sheer volume of text that would have to be translated from the simulation mode. The US versions of the games simply omitted this mode altogether, but the Evolution disc of the first game and Project Justice made up for it by including over a dozen pre-made custom characters to unlock.
  • Cloneopoly: Rival Schools received a kind of interquel only for PlayStation (and only for Japan too) called Shiritsu Justice Gakuen Nekketsu Seisyun Nikki 2 (aka Rival Schools 2) which is mostly an updated version of the first game than a real sequel as it was Project Justice. This version included Ran Hibiki and Nagare Namikawa as fighters before their official appearance in PJ as well various minigames, included a Monopoly-like game where you get rewards to be used as power-up for your characters in the game.
  • Combination Attack: Each character has a specific attack you can use when calling them for a Team-Up. Most deal damage, and some restore health or fill up your Burning Vigor gauge. In the sequel, it's possible to get all three characters in for a Party-Up attack to pile on even more damage. Team-Ups depend on who you call in, but Party-Ups depend on who you're playing as.
  • Crossover: There are numerous references to Street Fighter in Rival Schools, most notably Sakura's inclusion in the first game. However there are also a few inconsistencies (like Sakura's blood type) that prevents Rival Schools from fitting neatly into the Street Fighter continuity. Nevertheless Hinata and Tiffany would appear in the background of a stage in Street Fighter V, and Akira would become a Guest Fighter in the same game, confirming that they both exist in a Shared Universe.
  • Death Cry Echo
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Edge hates being called by his real name, Eiji Yamada. Likewise, the masked gang leader Zaki does not answer to Aoi Himezaki (due to the "Hime" part of her name, which translates to "Princess").
  • Dustbin School: Gedo High, school for Juvenile Delinquents and other undesirables.
  • Eagleland: Whatever version of America the Pacific High kids hail from. Tiffany even has the stars-and-stripes motif on her P1 costume (think Stars and Stripes meets gratuitous Fanservice).
  • Empathic Environment: It's always night at Justice High, with a perpetual thunderstorm over the building.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Class Representative of Taiyo High is never given a name, and she prefers to be called Iincho (Chairperson in the English translations).
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin
  • Failure Is the Only Option: In both games, the Story Mode has one of the final bosses as mid-bosses (Raizo Imawano in RS: United by Fate and Kurow Kirishima in Project Justice) with a lot of energy and power, leaving the player with Death Is the Only Option. The characters have to suffer the consequences of being defeated, which are already part of the main story (mostly one of your team been kidnapped by the bad guys).
  • Fastball Special: Raizo does this to his partner in his team-up move, and Gedo High's Party-Up in Project Justice has the attacker and his victim thrown into each other by the attacker's partners.
  • Flawless Victory: Acknowledged during the characters' win pose, with a "VICTORY!" from the announcer instead of the typical "WINNER!"
  • Foreign Exchange Student: Roy, Tiffany, and Boman are a team of foreign exchange students from America.
    • In fact, Pacific High seems to be made up of them, since all the premade characters from there also fit the category.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: The Nekketsu Seishun Nikki (Hot-Blooded Youth Diary) mode in the first game (as well as the Updated Re-release), being a straight-up school life simulator, makes little to no reference to the war between high schools. You can choose to befriend any of the characters in that mode, and the game may even offer options to pursue friendly relationships with the Big Bads of the game, Raizo and Hyo.
  • Gang War: A war is brewing amongst Gedo and Seijyun High Schools' respective gangs. The whole mess turns out to have been orchestrated by Kurow.
  • Gang of Hats: Some of the members of the Ladies Team, Zaki's gang, wear surgical masks, a cliché of all-female gangs in anime.
  • Grapple Move: in addition to normal grabs, crouch, and back grabs. there's Combination Attacks, which are initiated by a telegraphed, blockable attack and then cuts into a sequence of attack (just like a normal grab move) unique to your partner character. some of these can heal or increase your Mana Meter.
  • Gratuitous English: Roy (as noted above) and Tiffany both exhibit this at times. Their fellow countryman Boman avoids it by speaking Japanese all the time (though his Death Cry Echo is "Amen", which kinda fits as he is a religious (Christian) character).
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Some of the team-up attacks: Raizo throws his partner at the enemy. Zaki grabs her partner and swing-slams them into her opponent after her initial stomping. Wild Daigo punches and throws his opponent right at his own partner them beats the both of them down. Kurow's party-up involves his two partners whaling on the opponent on both sides, then Kurow impales both his own partners and repeatedly hammers them on the opponent. HARSH.
  • Guest Fighter: Sakura Kasugano from Street Fighter shows up in the first game. She doesn't figure into the main storyline very much, but she is said to be good friends with Hinata and Natsu.
    • Hilariously, this game, outright, explains that the reason she can get away with being in Street Fighter Alpha's sequels is that several schools in her area of Japan practice similar attitudes to the actions of their school clubs as Ranma Saotome.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Kyosuke, Raizo and Hyo in United By Fate.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: For the Playstation version of the first game, here.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: Can be subverted — most of the Stage 3 battles in Rival Schools are designed to be impossible to win (due to AI damage and health increases), but if you can manage to win, you get to skip straight ahead to the final boss.
    • In the sequel's story mode for Taiyo High, you might have a chance to solo battle Kurow. You only have a single round and just one ally for assistance, and he has a lot of health. It's almost impossible to beat him, but the story continues if you lose.
  • Hot-Blooded: Batsu...all the way. So much that he turns into Burning Batsu.
    • Don't forget Hayato. He's the model of Hot-Blooded PE teacher that Naruto's Might Guy could have been molded after him. That's even his surname for God's sake! ("Nekketsu" means literally "hot blood".)
  • Huge Girl, Tiny Guy: The tall, awkward Natsu and short, angry Shoma.
  • I Know Madden Kombat: Pretty much the shtick of the Gorin High characters. At least the ball sports (baseball - Shoma, volleyball - Natsu, football - Roberto, tennis - Momo) make sense, but taken to very ridiculous levels with a character (Nagare) who fights with swimming moves!
  • "I Know You Are in There Somewhere" Fight: If you play as Kyoko and Hideo in the Arcade version of the first game, you get brainwashed after losing the Hopeless Stage 3 battle. After awhile, one of the two snaps out of it and tries to convince the other to do so by fighting him/her.
    • In the sequel's story mode for Gedo or Seijyun High, they have to convince a Brainwashed and Crazy Daigo to calm down. Failing to do so leads to a Bad End.
  • Japanese Delinquents: Daigo, Edge and Gan. Hell, Gedo High is nothing but a school of delinquents. Zaki and her gang in Project Justice throw female delinquents into the mix.
  • Jerkass: Roy is very condescending of the Japanese and has a huge superiority complex when it comes to the respective countries. This was toned down a LOT in the western translation which makes it rather odd for gamers who can understand Japanese since only the translation is different. The dialogue is still the same as the original making it somewhat strange to read one thing and listen to something completely different. It should be noted that towards the end of the game Roy has changed his outlook on Japan considerably and seems to view the country with a lot more respect.
  • Joke Character: Chairperson, with the glaring exception of her assist. This is probably because she uses Dan Hibiki's own Saikyo style... and learned it from weekend correspondence courses, meaning she isn't as skillful at it as him...
  • Ki Manipulation: Every single character in the game, thanks to Batsu's and Hayato's assists.
  • Left Hanging: The end of Project Justice. Yes, Kurow's plan has been foiled but he's escaped custody and Kyosuke disappeared from school after the death of Hyo as well. And what of the Darkside Society that both Kurow and Yurika defected from?
  • Let's You and Him Fight: EVERYBODY from the different high schools, without exception. It isn't until the last stage of the game that the characters find the real culprits.
  • Look What I Can Do Now!: In the Taiyo storyline in Project Justice, if Batsu loses in the second battle, he leaves the party for a while, but returns a few battles later as "Burning Batsu", complete with powered-up attacks and a Battle Aura.
  • Love Triangle: Hideo and Kyoko are engaged; Hayato, who once had a crush on Kyoko, is simply content to step back for Kyoko's happiness and play a slight Shipper on Deck to the couple.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Raizo is Batsu's father, and by extension, Hyo and Kyosuke's uncle (the latter two are twins).
  • The Man Behind the Man: The summary of the first Rival Schools' plot.
  • The Masochism Tango: Natsu and Shoma's relationship in a nutshell.
  • Meaningful Name: The town where the games are set, Aoharu, has it by way of Alternate Character Reading: it can also be read as "seishun" (youth).
  • Mind-Control Eyes: Red eyes indicate in United By Fate who's under the sway of the villain.
  • Multiple Endings: One "bad" ending in United By Fate, and two in Project Justice.
  • Oddly Named Sequel: One usually would not have guessed Project Justice is the real sequel to United By Fate unless they lived in Japan or a PAL territory. Nekketsu Seisyun Nikki 2 didn't help matters.
  • One-Gender School: Gedo High is all-male, while Seijyun High is all-female.
  • One-Steve Limit: Sound-alike variant, with Ran Hibiki and Gan Isurugi.
  • The Power of Friendship: The Aesop of most of the games' stories; almost always the characters triumph over loner villains through their friendship with others.
  • Power Trio: Every school had one. Seijyun Girls School had an all-female Power Trio in Akira, Zaki, and Yurika.
    • This point is hammered home with Project Justice 's very fighting system, which consists of 3-on-3 battles.
  • Product Placement: The PlayStation version of the first game had a couple of ads placed in the backgrounds, such as the magazine Famitsu or the Gamers store chain. There's even an ad for Capcom's own Plasma Sword
  • Real Life Writes the Plot/The Character Died with Him: The voice actor for Hyo Imawano died several months before the release of Project Justice, and so Hyo winds up getting Killed Off for Real.
  • The Rival: Roy and Batsu. Initially this is very aggressive on Roy's part but towards the end of the game it does shift towards a more friendly rivalry.
  • School of Hard Knocks: Students and faculty from five high schools (with a sixth added in Project Justice) fight each other to find out who's behind the kidnappings and attacks.
  • School Rivalry: This is the basic premise of the storyline, as an evil mastermind is making students from all over Aoharu City disappear and is convincing numerous schools that the other schools in the city are the ones doing the kidnapping. Fighting ensues as each side slowly unravels the mystery.
  • Shotoclone: The Taiyou trio (especially Hinata, moveset-wise) and Hideo, with Hideo being the most blatant (Batsu even compares Ryu's moves to Hideo's in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom). Also, Sakura from Street Fighter in the first game.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Roy and Tiffany. Depending on how you look at it, Batsu and Hinata either play this trope straight or invert it.
  • Shout-Out: The game itself is an homage to old-fashioned fighting high school mangas. Plenty of other references abound, mostly also to older mangas.
    • Natsu's surname, Ayuhara, is from Kozue Ayuhara, the protagonist of Attack No. 1 (volleyball being the sport Natsu practices).
    • Shoma's absurd baseball moves come from the manga Samurai Giants.
    • Akira Kazama gets her name and love of motorcycles from a character in Kenji. Being a kung fu manga, it is also why she fights in that style.
    • Gan is basically Gorilla-Imo from Dokonjou Gaeru crossed with a friend of Akira's from Kenji.
    • Tiffany's hairdo and manner of speech are very similar to Swan White's in GaoGaiGar. Supposedly, the creators were big on the show, which is also why Batsu and Hinata have Guy and Mikoto's voices.
    • Helmetless Akira's team-up attack in the original game is copied from Neon Genesis Evangelion's infamous episode "Both of You, Dance Like You Want to Win!" (you know, the one where Shinji and Asuka take learning teamwork so far that he even dresses up as her).
    • Boman's team-up attack, the Double Power Buster, is basically the same move as the Double Kinniku Buster.
    • Roberto seems like Ken Wakashimazu from Captain Tsubasa with his haircut and being a goalkeeper like him, but also seems based on Tsubasa's teacher, Roberto Hongo, who's also half-Brazilian as Roberto.
    • Also one within Capcom itself: one of Hinata's win poses is the little dance Data does.
    • The soccer stadium stage in Project Justice shows promotion for Power Stone 2, Street Fighter Alpha 3, and Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium in the large digital billboards. Funny that Kyosuke appeared in Capcom Vs SNK 2 and now Kyo Kusanagi appears in a small cameo in Rival Schools.
  • Inconsistent Spelling: Shoma was spelled as "Syoma" in the arcade version of the first Rival Schools.
    • The "B"/"V" confusion is apparently lampshaded with Kurow's identity as Batsu's doppelganger being named "Vatsu".
  • Super Move Portrait Attack: In Project Justice, connecting with a Party-Up flashes close-ups of the faces of the attacking team's members before showing the three-person beatdown.
  • Take Over the World: He who controls the school board, controls the universe!
  • Title Scream: United By Fate does this for both the English and Japanese titles. Project Justice does this with only the Japanese title.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Natsu and Hinata; disregarding the fact that they are from different schools, they've been friends since childhood. Akira and Yurika is another example, though they've only known each other for a short time prior to the events of Project Justice.
  • Training from Hell: Hayato's aforementioned push-up super.
  • Two-Teacher School: Most of the schools in the series. In the case of Gedo, Pacific and Seijyun, they're all No Teacher Schools as far as the players are aware.
  • Updated Re-release:
    • The PlayStation port of the first game featured two discs - the Regular and the Evolution discs. The Regular disc is essentially the arcade port (topped with additional voice acting on the cutscenes). The Evolution disc not only contained the ones with minigames (as well as the character creation stuff found in Japan only), but also had character tweaks. For instance, they removed the Rival Launcher super moves and instead replaced them with a new super move which has then become a standard for the characters.
    • Shiritsu Justice Gakuen: Nekketsu Seisyun Nikki 2, a update of the first Rival Schools, for the PlayStation. Unfortunately, a lot of people mistake it for a sequel.
  • Withholding Their Name: Chairperson refuses to reveal her real name and would rather prefer other characters refer to her by her title.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Momo is an expert.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Boman actually does a Kinniku Buster in his Team-Up Attack. That aside, most grapples are wrestling-inspired; even little Momo can bust out a piledriver!
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Seijyun Girls Academy trains its students to become this. However it's also home to an all-female gang led by Aoi "Zaki" Himezaki. Ironically, the girl who suits the archetype the most is Yurika, The Mole from the Darkside Student Council.

Alternative Title(s): Project Justice