The classic arcade game is finally coming home…but just barely
Up until just a few months ago, it seemed like The Rumble Fish 2 would forever remain an exclusive fighting game, but now that’s all changed.
3goo and original developer Dimps have brought The Rumble Fish 2 back after more than a decade to modern consoles, but is a remake of the classic fighter worth the asking price of admission?
I’m going to be brutally honest and start this review by saying that while I really enjoy playing The Rumble Fish 2 and appreciate all the mechanics it has to offer, this is a hard sell to just about anyone but the most hardcore fighting game fans. There are for a few reasons.
The gameplay is among the best in terms of choice and interactivity I’ve ever experienced in the genre so far and it can be a surprise to play against other people, especially those who know what they’re doing.
However, everything else about the package falls far short of modern expectations, even when looking only at other re-releases of older titles.
This makes it a little difficult to justify the $30 asking price, but let’s focus on the commodity first.
Obviously, the most important part of a fighting game for many is how it’s actually played, and The Rumble Fish 2 has such an overwhelming amount of options available that it’s hard to keep track of them all.
There may only be 13 characters to choose from, but they all have interesting and unique mechanics/quirks that make each character feel very different from the other.
One of The Rumble Fish 2’s biggest selling points is the ridiculous amount of mechanics available through the attack and defense counters for a range of different situations.
There’s the obvious inclusion of Offensive Art Supers, but that’s just scratching the surface of what’s available at almost any time.
On the offensive side, you have Impact Blow to take away the large recovery options available from opponents, Advanced Attack can be used as a combo add-on or a frame trap, and Jolt Attacks are unlockable blows.
Defensively, the meter can be used for quick recovery, effect breaking as a protection/false protection cancel as well as defensive arts such as Supers or special combo breakers that change in use and activation depending on the character.
Both meters can be combined into a Boost Dive, which temporarily grants each character a unique power, and when fully full, players can burn all six bars to use Critical Arts to deal an enormous amount of damage.
There’s more beyond managing counters that make matches react with multiple move/jump options, an open-ended dash combo system and an dodge button to name a few.
This does not include character-specific mechanics like Lud’s thermometer which builds up through block commands and grants him new attacks or strengthens his existing ones.
Aside from the likes of Killer Instinct, there are a few examples I can think of that maintain this high level of interactivity and decision making throughout most of their playtime.
This is all very stressful for new players, and the game itself doesn’t really help make it easier to jump on board now.
One of the most disappointing aspects of the remake of The Rumble Fish 2 is that it doesn’t do much to teach players how the mechanics work and how they can be applied by each character.
There is absolutely no tutorial or bundled experiences, so the only things in the game that can help players are the command menus and random splash screens that only go over the basics of a wide variety of mechanics.
Without any detailed assistance, the gameplay can feel stiff and unrefined when simply pressing buttons, which is a shame considering how much you can sink your teeth into once you know how deep the water is.
The best course of action for those interested is to find an outside guide to the mechanics and combo modes, and this has greatly improved my opinion of the game once I’ve done that – and the GuileWinQuote guide is a very good place to start.
Otherwise, you are completely on your own.
Dimps and 3goo kept it minimal and basic for the release of The Rumble Fish 2 on consoles, and it really shows.
You have your standard Arcade, Survival, Time Attack, VS Mode, Training, Gallery, and Internet gameplay, but don’t expect any extra bells or whistles.
While a few matches I’ve been able to get my hands on so far have gone completely fine in applying the grid code backtracking, online shows have the least substance I’ve seen in a fighting game in perhaps a decade.
You simply queue up to find a match or invite a friend.
In Quick Match, you’ll only play one game, and then it takes you back to the main menu – not even the search screen.
Online does not have its own dedicated mode. They slapped it at Versus shows.
The developers have updated The Rumble Fish 2 to run in 16:9 widescreen, but that’s it.
On PC, there are no graphics options available at all, and the game doesn’t even run at 1080p and instead looks like it’s displayed regardless at 1,536 x 864 pixels.
The unique character animations and battle damage seen on the characters’ clothes and bodies are still really cool to see and at least well executed.
However, almost every screen outside of gameplay looks old and muddy.
Some with more experience with the series claim that the 16:9 conversion also affects how the game plays and which combos work compared to the arcades, though I don’t have the experience to confirm this completely.
Built on a game originally released in 2005, Rumble Fish 2 sure looks and feels like it.
For some reason, they also decided to sell Hazama, Greed, and Beatrice as DLC characters for $4 apiece or include them in a physical Collector’s Edition only for $70, which might not come out until July of next year if you miss the initial pre-orders.
Rumble Fish 2 is still an exciting and memorable fighting game experience after all this time with almost unparalleled depth and variety despite its small roster.
If you have trouble looking for outside clues, there is plenty of fun you can have with friends just in the gameplay alone.
However, as a complete package, the product mostly feels tied together and falls short of modern expectations of a fighting game, even other re-releases or enhanced ports.
The undo net icon seems to work fine, but returning to the main menu after each match shows just how little it places above the basic arcade version.
Demanding $30 plus more DLC is a challenge for almost anyone but the biggest fan of the genre who wants to own an interesting piece of fighting game history.
It’s a little disappointing that the rest of the game didn’t get the same level of attention as what the developers originally put into the gameplay all those years ago.
Rumble Fish 2 is now available for purchase on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X | S, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam.
Note: EventHubs was provided with a copy of The Rumble Fish 2 on PC for the purposes of this review.
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