Nekketsu Oyako

Any serious fan of shooters during the 16-bit era should be familiar with the name Technosoft.  These underrated developers created some of the finest gems during that period.  Thunder Force is their most popular brand but they also made the excellent Elemental Master and the enhanced port of Devil’s Crush.  It’s safe to say they pushed the Genesis extremely hard and I at least always looked forward to whatever they worked on next.  Which is why I was so disappointed with Nekketsu Oyako, their first 32-bit project.  When I first saw it in Gamefan I was excited.  Forget the developer; I wanted to see what the new systems would bring to the genre.  Looking back on that generation, it wasn’t much as brawlers swiftly died.  In the case of Nekketsu Oyako the game is just so average.  Not even its absurdity can save this one from being mediocre.

The title stands for Hot Blooded Family and the game certainly bears that out.  Each member of the family fits neatly into the established archetypes but the game does a good job differentiating them further.  Rio is fast but weak but can head stomp enemies repeatedly like Chun Li.  Daddy Rando is the strong but weak tank.  Oddly he can’t use most normal weapons as they are too small for his big hands.  To make up for that he is the only one that can use the bazooka.  Too bad it only appears in two stages.  In a fun bit of comedy Rando is also the only one that can drink alcohol to restore health!  Tora is overwhelmingly the best character, combining some traits of everybody and with some of the best moves.  He head stomps like his sister and can run indefinitely, setting up many multi hit combos.

Unlike most titles in the genre every character has a large repertoire of moves.  Aside from the standard multi hit combo you can toss enemies around and dash.  Dashing can lead into multiple attacks with Tora being able to segue into another three hit combo.  Weapons drop from barrels and enemies seemingly every few seconds and you’ll spend very little time barehanded.  Some like grenades in most cases will one shot enemies.  The various guns are just as deadly too.  Despite comprising five levels you’ll fight more enemies than normal which is probably why items drop so frequently.

Whatever challenge may have presented itself as a result is completely ruined by one move in particular.  By performing a quarter circle motion you can unleash a devastating flurry that kills groups of enemies in seconds.  You can spam this endlessly and you are near invincible during it to boot.  If you are playing as Tora you can keep the attack going for seconds.  It is insane!  Enemies will blindly walk into it and bosses also easily fall prey to this assault.  Of course it’s boring to play the game this way but I doubt most will have any qualms about using it in a pinch.

In fact overall Nekketsu Oyako is very easy.  Outside of that one overpowered attack the game is bursting at the seams with life restoring food at every turn.  The point requirements for extra lives are steep but just like food there are a ton of items that give points.  Most enemies are brain dead and will right into your attacks and pose little threat.  The four credits are extremely generous; I didn’t use any until the final level.  The final boss gauntlet seems designed to rob you of as many lives and continues as possible rather than presenting an interesting challenge.  Still, most will have no trouble finishing this quickly with no hassle.

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With very little challenge the game has to rely on its absurdity to keep you entertained.  Trust me, the game has it in spades.  What may seem like an innocent Final Fight clone quickly descends into ridiculousness.  The default boxer enemies look stupid as is and it only gets worse from there.  Stage 2 takes place inside the belly of a whale where you face fighting octopi with boxing gloves on their tentacles.  The amusement park is filled with enemies that look like Jason from Friday the 13th.  Curiously they are also named Freddy.  The mastermind behind all these shenanigans is revealed to be a midget with no knees.  As funny as that sounds it takes an even stranger turn when he transforms into a musclebound superhero to finish the fight!

In Closing

The wackiness is fun but not enough to make the game all that compelling however.  As much as I like it I can’t recommend Nekketsu Oyako.  There are far too many superior brawlers out there to bother importing this.  I like the mechanics but they deserved to be in a better game.

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