If you’re of a certain age, you’ll probably fondly remember the Double Dragon series.
You might also remember Nintendo World Cup, or Renegade, or Super Dodge Ball. If you do and for some reason want to relive those experiences, Double Dragon & Kunio-Kun: Retro Brawler Bundle is for you. Comprising of 18 classic Double Dragon and Kunio-Kun games, 11 of which have been localised in English for the first time, it’s one of the most interesting retro collections of recent years. It’s just a shame that most of them aren’t fun to play anymore.
Released between 1987 and 1993, the games included in Double Dragon & Kunio-Kun: Retro Brawler Bundle haven’t aged well at all. While there’s the odd title you might eke some fun out of, such as River City Ransom or Downtown Special Kunio-Kun’s Historical Period Drama, most you’ll launch, reel in horror when you begin playing, then quit mere minutes later when you inevitably die or simply lose interest. Some things are simply better left in the past. Though that’s admittedly not always easy to do when we remember them with rose-tinted spectacles.
While dubbed the Retro Brawler Bundle, a large number of games included in this collection are actually sports titles. There’s dodgeball, football, ice hockey, basketball and sprint events. Some have a bit of added violence, sure, but they might not all be what you’re expecting. One thing’s for certain, though: there’s a lot of variety packed in when you also take into consideration the action RPGs, scrolling beat ’em ups and straight-up fighting games that form the remainder of the titles on offer.
Outside of the fact that playing many games in the Double Dragon & Kunio-Kun: Retro Brawler Bundle is about as much fun as rubbing hot sauce into your eyeballs, you’ve got to appreciate the care that has been put into the package. You can re-map the controls (which you’ll want to do as they’re awful by default), there are screen size and filter options to suit your taste, and save states are supported.
Most games can be played in ‘High Quality’ mode, too, which simply eliminates flicker and lag in most cases, but also tweaks some games to make them a little more playable. With the press of a button, you can also view a description of each game and the year it was released, which is handy when you’re browsing and you’re not sure what to play. It’s clear that this isn’t a collection that has been haphazardly thrown together. It’s just a shame that it has such niche appeal.
As always, things are a little more fun when you bring a friend or two along for the ride, and many of the games included in Double Dragon & Kunio-Kun: Retro Brawler Bundle have local co-op and competitive play. Amazingly, the bundle has online play, too. Some games you can play as normal, other have challenges for you to complete; needless to say, if you do find yourself enjoying Double Dragon & Kunio-Kun: Retro Brawler Bundle‘s assortment of titles, online play enables you to eke a lot more fun out of them.
As retro collections go, Double Dragon & Kunio-Kun: Retro Brawler Bundle should be applauded for the effort that has gone into localising so many titles and presenting them with all the features you’d expect, and more. If only the games themselves were more enjoyable to play.
It feels like a pointless endeavour to stick a score on something like this, really. Thanks to recent titles such as River City Girls and timeless classics such as Streets of Rage 2, I’ve found playing most of the titles in Double Dragon & Kunio-Kun: Retro Brawler Bundle to be painful, at best. To me, they’re now nothing more than curios; relics of the past that are good to be remembered but not to be played. But you might feel differently. It’s a costly gamble to find out, however, when priced at £32.39/$39.99.
The games themselves, today, I’d score 2/10. The effort put into this bundle, 8/10. Let’s meet in the middle.