Stay Cool, Kobayashi-san!: A River City Ransom Story (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Gabriel Jones 27.11.2019

Review for Stay Cool, Kobayashi-san!: A River City Ransom Story on Nintendo Switch

Even though he's still in High School, Masao Kobayashi is one of the most feared men in Tokyo. Surprisingly enough, it wasn't always this way. He was just a typical delinquent back in Middle School. However, that all changed when he was visited by Mizoguchi, the time-regulator. Apparently, an evil organization is threatening to rip the fabric of reality apart. Also, they've captured Kobayashi's best friend. Needless to say, all of the pieces are in place for another hot-blooded war. From the directors of classic Kunio-Kun games comes Stay Cool, Kobayashi-san!: A River City Ransom Story.

Since the resurgence of the Kunio-Kun franchise, there have been quite a few brawlers. What's interesting is that aside from adopting the same fundamentals, they're all quite different from one another. Stay Cool, Kobayashi-san!: A River City Ransom Story is another break from tradition. Its art-style is a bit more unique. The mechanics have also seen a slew of changes. By taking control of Kobayashi, Kunio, and Mizoguchi, players can take the fight to a futuristic menace. While brawling with a seemingly endless legion of foes, they must discover the secrets to stopping the dreaded time loop.

From the outset, the entire city is open to exploration. Five gangs, recognizable by the colours of their outfits, stalk the streets. Once you've pummelled at least thirty members of a gang, their leader will come out of hiding. As soon as you've defeated the five leaders, then the final boss will arrive. Bear in mind that the city houses a handful of secrets, as well as a number of NPCs. If you can figure out the hints they leave behind, then perhaps you'll be able to obtain the best ending. There are 20 in all, though the differences between them seem to be pretty minor. Nevertheless, you'll want to check out every area, because you could stumble upon unique events.

Screenshot for Stay Cool, Kobayashi-san!: A River City Ransom Story on Nintendo Switch

Although Kobayashi is the main character, you're not obligated to play as him. His mysterious friend Mizoguchi, and fiercest rival Kunio also tag along. Kunio is a tough hombre who does immense damage with his fists. He can also close the distance quickly with 'Acro Circus,' a crushing somersault. Mizoguchi, conversely, prefers to keep his distance and blow adversity away. Then there's Kobayashi himself, who can teleport in front of enemies to deliver vicious combos, or slash through crowds with an energy blade. Just be sure to protect him. This ends if Masao is defeated. On the plus side, unlimited continues and numerous save-points guarantee that very little progress is ever lost.

When Kobayashi and Mizoguchi work together, you have a few extra abilities to play around with. These are governed by a meter, which is filled by beating up the bad guys. Basically, the idea is to save these abilities for when they're absolutely necessary. The first is a generic healing spell. At level 2 the heroes can summon a third or even fourth ally. The effect is temporary, but the extra hands can make a big difference during a boss encounter. Last and probably least is the third level ability, which merely grants Kobayashi a power boost. By defeating bosses and successfully completing play-throughs, you'll earn stars. These are exchanged for permanent bonuses, such as improved stats.

Screenshot for Stay Cool, Kobayashi-san!: A River City Ransom Story on Nintendo Switch

The combat system is a marked departure from other recent games in the series. Kobayashi and friends have a basic "magic series" string of attacks. After knocking an enemy into the air, you can hit the jump button to follow up with flashy finishing strikes. Allies can also deliver follow-up attacks, knocking enemies around like ping-pong balls. Special attacks are performed by holding down a specific button, then releasing it when enough energy is stored. Evasive options are limited, but effective. You can tap the attack button at the right moment to parry, and double tap up or down to side-step. Unfortunately, that's the extent of the gang's abilities. There aren't any new moves to learn, nor are there any grab-and-throw combos.

Once you get an understanding of how this game works, repetition will set in pretty quickly. Sometimes they throw projectiles or perform jump-kicks, but there really isn't enough to set the gang members apart from each other. Occasionally, drones will appear, but they don't really add anything to the combat. During a typical play-through, you'll also participate in segments where the heroes hop on UFOs and blast enemies out of the sky. They're less exciting than they sound. The bosses offer a bit more variation, but defeating them is mostly just a matter of timing your level 3 special attacks. Otherwise, the fights come off as rather cheap and poorly balanced. To give an example, one of the bosses has a move where he can grab anyone onscreen and suck their life away. Even after three play-throughs, this critic still hasn't found a way around it.

Screenshot for Stay Cool, Kobayashi-san!: A River City Ransom Story on Nintendo Switch

If you can get past the mind-numbing repetitiveness of bashing the same enemies over and over again, then you'll be pitted against an awful final boss. This clown, with his ridiculously powerful homing attacks, will be the subject of countless retries and expletives. It's definitely a good idea to boost your stats before taking him on. Otherwise he'll destroy everyone in seconds. Unfortunately, even as borderline unfair as this fight can get, it's still the closest thing this adventure has to a challenge. Once you manage to complete the first play-through, there's nothing else that can possibly stand in your way. The lack of difficulty settings or post-game challenges will leave high-level characters with nothing to do.

Well… there is one last challenge, and it's geared towards experts. Upon completion of a play-through, your time will be added to the online leaderboards. Achieving the best time depends on your knowledge of gang member locations, and how quickly you're able to eliminate everyone. It's a pretty neat feature. Speed-running probably doesn't appeal to everyone, but at least it shows that there's a bit of depth to this brawler.

Screenshot for Stay Cool, Kobayashi-san!: A River City Ransom Story on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Stay Cool, Kobayashi-san!: A River City Ransom Story is a mundane beat 'em up that's held aloft by a couple clever ideas. The combat is fun at first, but the doldrums set in long before completing the first of potentially many play-throughs. Some fights, particularly the finale, definitely could've used a few tweaks. Still, figuring out the fastest route to the end is really cool. It gives the adventure a tinge of replay-value. However, unless you "have" to play every game in the River City Ransom canon, then this won't catch your interest.

Developer

Arc System Works

Publisher

Arc System Works

Genre

Brawler

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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