Gekido Kintaro’s Revenge, what an oddity this game is. I mean, we’ve said it time and time again, this gen there’s certainly no shortage of remakes, remasters or HD overhauls. Typically Capcom leads this trend with their heavy serving of portfolio comebacks, but other notable takes on this formula are unleashed too; Crash Bandicoot and Shenmue, to name just two. Now, however, Gekido comes to Xbox One from way back on the Gameboy Advance (can we have Golden Sun, please?) and comes with some new features to boot.
Developed and published by Naps Team, Gekido Kintaro’s Revenge serves itself as a side-scrolling action brawler that’s origin title was a sequel to the PlayStation’s Gekido Urban Fighters. Surely it would have been more prudent to bring back the first game in the series, but unless licensing issues play a role in that, beggars simply cannot be choosers. New additions for this version include local co-op, new cut-scenes and two new game modes; Survival Mode and Relic Hunter Mode. Not a bad package as far as the content alone goes.
The question is, is this worth a visit? If I’m to be brutally honest, it’s sitting on the fence, but we’ll get to that shortly. The game centers around a young man that goes by the name of Tetsuo. Tetsuo has recently returned home and visits his sensei, only to learn that the dead have began to rise in a remote farming village. Sent to investigate, Tetsuo soon discovers that the village’s temple has been overrun by demons and before long, shit hits the proverbial fan. The village is trashed, the village’s people are now undead and much worse.
It falls to Tetsuo to fight through the madness, get to the bottom of what’s going on and save all of the missing children that have since disappeared. Sadly, the game doesn’t give you any insight as to how it’s to be played. I appreciate that this is a GBA game and that controls back at the time were tethered merely to a few buttons, but it would have been nice to see some minimal guidance nevertheless. Once the game has delivered you the premise, you’re free to make your way through the slow-starting story mode and progress at your pace.
What immediately struck me was how difficult the game is. You’re only given a grand total of five continues at the start of the first chapter and you’ll need to carry these over with you as you move through the subsequent chapters. Sounds easy on paper, right? Wrong, well for me at least. I lost a total of four continues on my first run in the first chapter, to which there’s five chapters overall. So be warned, it’s quite a challenging game. Surprisingly, however, this game adds in some extra depth in comparison to the traditional brawler.
Rather than simply moving from left to right, beating down anything that stands in your way, you’re free to move up and down ladders and enter structures such as homes and caves. You’ll be battling a sizable range of enemies along the way; demons, dogs, bats and so forth. These will literally be coming at you from all angles, so quick thinking and swift reflexes play an integral role here. There’s even some platforming to contend with too, such as jumping and avoiding objects that will constantly fall from the top of the screen.
Speaking of environmental hazards, the usual design choices we’ve seen time and time again are present here. That includes the likes of large holes that you can fall into and (the most original of all) spike-traps that will impale you if you stand on them. The gameplay loop is quite repetitive, which may well be a product of the game’s age, though with that said, there’s some added tasks thrown into the mix to keep things fresh. For the most part at least, you’ll simply be clearing out enemies and making your way through each chapter.
The game attempts to draw out the length of any given chapter by requiring you to collect a number of keys from one area and bringing them with you to the next, but when all is said and done, it’s pretty basic stuff. There’s no level-up system in place here, instead, Gekido Kintaro’s Revenge relies heavily on its replay-value. If you want to truly succeed, you’re going to need to master the game and its mechanics. You do, on the other hand, get some extra help in the form of power-ups; speed boost, increases to your attack power and rage.
Rage will gradually fill up your power-meter, to which it can then be used against all on-screen foes to knock them down and take away a small chunk of health. Rounding this off is the inclusion of dud-orbs. These can impede your progress in varying ways depending on which one you collect, such as reversing your controls or preventing any controller input for a set amount of time. Overall, the story mode remains challenging throughout, something that even the newly implemented two player co-op doesn’t really alleviate that much.
When you’re done with the story you can check out the two aforementioned modes. Survival mode is self explanatory and challenges you to power your way through levels of demons with only one life. If you’re heading into this mode, it pays off to practice your skills and combos. Relic hunter applies the same single-life aspect but instead of fighting waves of enemies, players will be exploring a dungeon in search of relics to collect. There’s a helpful little map to the lower left of the screen which tends to aid you with some navigation.
The problem here is that these game modes can be far too difficult to overcome, promoting more frustration than actual fun. The game handles well for the most part and the controls, once you gel with them, remain fluid and precise. Gekido Kintaro’s Revenge offers enough freedom to play/fight as you wish, with some interesting combos and attack patterns to utilize should you put in the time. The visuals do very little to impress and despite willing to forgive certain aged elements, there’s not much character to the environments within.
There’s a default grainy-like presentation that I cant really say that I bonded with that much, nor appreciated. The same can be said about the audio cues and the soundtrack, it’s just too loud, in your face and lacks personality. When all is said and done, Gekido Kintaro’s Revenge will be a decent game for the die-hard Streets of Rage-esque formula fans out there, but for those that seek something more rounded, complete and in-depth, Gekido Kintaro’s Revenge will merely satisfy your appetite. It’s a passable game that sadly shows its age far too much.
At best, Gekido Kintaro’s Revenge is a passable game that should please just about anyone who enjoyed the original. The additional features within deserve a special mention and they certainly make the price of the game much more generous. However, there’s no denying that the game’s age shows far too much and despite its limited capabilities, the difficulty can make for one hell of a frustrating and repetitive experience.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.