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The Kunio-kun franchise was created by Technōs Japan Corp. and has more than 30 games. The first game of the franchise, Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun (released as Renegade in North America) was Technōs' first big hit. The series would become more popular on the Famicom thanks to Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari and Downtown Nekketsu Kōshinkyoku: Soreyuke Daiundōkai (the former was localized in North America as River City Ransom on the NES, an influential cult classic). Veteran Technōs staff would continue to work on the franchise in a new company, Million Co., Ltd, after their bankruptcy. The creator of the original game, Yoshihisa Kishimoto, and one of the creators of Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari, Hiroyuki "Mokeke" Sekimoto, are also involved in the creation of current games.
Though a popular series in Japan, the Kunio-kun franchise remains a niche property in North America. There are multiple reasons for these: the attempt to sell the games to the western market, which required alterations to the games and the fact that Technōs was unable to publish most of their own games (River City Ransom and Crash 'n the Boys: Street Challenge were the only Kunio-kun games they published). The series does have a cult following in some parts of Asia, Europe and North America.
Localizations of Kunio-kun games by Technōs include Renegade, Super Dodge Ball (these two being the only two arcade games in the series), River City Ransom (Street Gangs in Europe), Nintendo World Cup, Double Dragon II (for the Game Boy, was originally going to be released as The Renegades by Technōs before Acclaim got the rights to publish the game) and Crash 'n the Boys: Street Challenge. The Neo Geo version of Super Dodge Ball was the last game released by Technōs in the west which fully used the Kunio-kun characters without making alterations (Nintendo World Cup did use Kunio as a character for the Japan Team).
After Arc System Works purchased the rights to the franchise, they started using the Kunio-kun characters and settings in the Western market under the River City brand for the purpose of recognition (there are some exceptions, in River City: Tokyo Rumble, some characters use the names they were given in River City Ransom while others use their names from the Kunio-kun franchise).
Stay Cool, Kobayashi-san!: A River City Ransom Story, a beat 'em up game and collaboration between Yoshihisa Kishimoto and Hiroyuki Sekimoto is the latest game in the Kunio-kun franchise to be released. River City Melee Mach!!, an upgrade of River City Melee: Battle Royal Special, and River City Girls, an spin-off beat 'em up role-playing game developed by WayForward were also released in 2019.
Misako is currently in detention at River City High, accompanied by her best friend Kyoko (even though she does not attend the school, she is also on detention). While Misako is dying of boredom of Mr. Rudis' math, Kyoko receives exciting yet alarming news on her phone: a picture of Kunio and Riki, the heroes of River City High and their boyfriends, being kidnapped.
Kyoko and Misako decide to spring into action, the only thing standing in their way is the school faculty, who sics the students at them, and the school's Defense Force.
|The Kunio-kun series|
Prior to the release of Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun Special, the Kunio-kun franchise was split into three series:
- The Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun series, which spawned from the original game and includes Shodai Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun, Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun: Bangai Rantō Hen and Shin Nekketsu Kōha: Kunio-tachi no Banka. Most of these games were directed and designed by the series original creator, Yoshihisa Kishimoto. The games use serious themes of gang violence and the characters have realistic proportions (Bangai Rantō Hen is the sole exception).
- The Nekketsu Kōkō Dodgeball Bu series, which was created when Hiroshi Sato was developing a dodge ball simulation game and Yoshihisa Kishimoto was asked to include Kunio in it. Games in this series also include Nekketsu Kōkō Dodgeball Bu: Soccer Hen, Ike Ike! Nekketsu Hockey Bu: Subette Koronde Dairantō, Kunio-kun no Nekketsu Soccer League and many other sports games. The main designer for Hockey Bu was Koji Kai, who worked on every of the Famicom games afterward until Nekketsu! Street Basket: Ganbare Dunk Heroes.
- The Downtown Nekketsu series, which was designed and directed by Hiroyuki Sekimoto and Mitsuhiro Yoshida. Their intention was to create a game inspired in Double Dragon that even children could play with lots of freedom and this game became Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari. Games in this series include Downtown Nekketsu Kōshinkyoku: Soreyuke Daiundōkai, Downtown Special: Kunio-kun no Jidaigeki da yo Zen'in Shūgō!, Downtown Nekketsu Baseball Monogatari: Yakyū de Shōbu da! Kunio-kun and many others.
With the release of Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun Special, Arc System Works have decided to fuse all three series into a new single one.
Click here for a list of games in the franchise.