Important Importables: Kenka Bancho

June 23, 2012 - 2:00 am No Comments

Hot Japanese Imports: Kenka Bancho

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On June 21, 2012, one of my favorite niche series got a new entry! Kenka Bancho has appeared on the PSP again with Kenka Bancho Bros. Tokyo Battle, the first entry in the series to allow players to help two delinquents make a name for themselves.

Of course, there’s a good chance you have no idea what I’m talking about. Kenka Bancho isn’t exactly a big name. Unless you’re a die-hard Atlus fan, you probably haven’t even heard of the title. Don’t worry! By the end of this column, you’ll know all about it and might even be rushing to the PlayStation Store to experiencing it for yourself.

Kenka Bancho?

Remember River City Ransom? It’s kind of like a spiritual successor to that. You do remember River City Ransom, right? This is a good time to nod and play along.

In every Kenka Bancho game, players step into the shoes of a young deliquent and/or tough guy. He ends up going around, proving to every other tough kid in the school that he’s the best. This involves fighting, of course. It’s very structured though, as a true badass has to follow certain rules to prove his authority. First, you maintain eye contact and glare to kick off the trash talking segment where you throw out the correct insults. This gets the street-fight off on the right foot. Then, your character fights his opponents. Actually, that’s pretty much it. You fight both minions of each area’s bosses, then go after the boss to take his title and prove your better than him.

Of course, there’s usually a bit more to it than that. Each entry has a general storyline as well. Some even have girls that your character can end up making his girlfriend. There are also stores to shop from to get new clothing, food or even just some fun little knicknacks.

They also have some open world elements. Even though most give the player a set period of time to become the game’s ultimate boss, players can typically reach that point however they’d like. Or, they could completely blow off the game’s mission and go around hunting for a costume that makes their character look like a banana.

There have been six Kenka Bancho games released so far, and they’ve always been Sony exclusives from Spike. Well, now it’s Spike Chunsoft, but you get the idea. The first two, Kenka Bancho and Kenka Bancho 2 were released on the PS2. The most recent four, from Kenka Bancho: Zenkoku Seiha, Kenka Bancho: Ichinen Sensou, Kenka Bancho: Otoko no Housoku and Kenka Bancho Bros. Tokyo Battle Royale, were all PSP exclusives. Most of the PSP entries, with the exception of Kenka Bancho Bros. since it just came out in Japan this week, are available in cheaper “best” varieties. They’re also region-free, though I wouldn’t recommend importing one unless you’ve got adequate Japanese language skills or have played a Kenka Bancho game before.

So why aren’t we seeing Kenka Bancho here?

We did. You just missed it.

Seriously, that’s pretty much it. The third Kenka Bancho game was picked up by Atlus and released on the PSP during its heyday in 2009. It was available in stores and on the PlayStation Store as Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble. It’s even available for Vitas for $14.99.

The more accurate question is, why aren’t we seeing more Kenka Bancho? It’s a good question and one I can’t really answer. The only possible reason I can think of for companies not taking a chance is because it’s such a unique and niche property. Yes, it does play to the people who love beat’em ups and River City Ransom adventures, but it also is very Japanese and there’s a lot of translation and localization involved. I mean, Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble has an intricate system where you have to trash talk your enemy before fighting, choosing the right response, and that’s something that takes a lot of effort to bring over.

Not to mention the Kenka Bancho games out in Japan now are all on the PS2 and PSP. Even Kenka Bancho Bros. Tokyo Battle Royale, the latest entry that came out on June 21, 2012, is a PSP game. While companies like Atlus, XSEED and Aksys are still taking chances on PSP games, they’re taking calculated risks on PSP games they know will have an audience.

Our best chance of getting another Kenka Bancho game will probably come when one is released for the Vita or PS3. Atlus did bring over one of them, after all, and Aksys has a good relationship with Spike Chunsoft.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Hot Japanese Imports talks about Wizardry.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Hot Japanese Imports talked about tokidoki mashups.

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