The Ill Communication

Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble

Developer: Bullets
Publisher: Atlus
U.S. Release: November 10, 2009

Box Quote: "Ban·cho [bon-choh], noun: An undisputed badass."

[Note: This is an edited reposting of a write-up I originally posted on another website. Given that text has been added and subtracted in some places, those interested in comparing the content can check out the source text here!]

Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble is an open world action game that places you in the role of Japanese high school delinquents known as Yankiis (Japanese for Yankees). The game mainly focuses on dudes known as banchos. What is a bancho, you ask? Well, I believe the official site for this game explains it best:

“Raw badass, distilled to its purest form, wrapped in a hard sweetdiculousness shell and smothered with awesomesauce. Stupid jokes about ‘80s karate cowboy actors and overmuscled baldies with voices like the last quarter-inch of a year-old coffee filter don’t compare to the sheer overpowering glory of a bancho. This isn’t to say that a bancho has to be a bad guy. You can help old ladies across the street and braid your little sister’s hair if you want. Some banchos act as heroes to their subordinates and defend their territory only when threatened. All you need to be a bancho is the undisputed authority to dish out ass-whuppins any time you deem necessary; you don’t have to actually do it if you don’t want to. Still, banchos tend to be aggressive and belligerent people just because of the extreme Type-A personality involved. There are even lady banchos. These are called sukebans (‘suke-‘means ‘female,’ and ‘ban’ is just short for ‘bancho’). There’s no shame in being beaten by a sukeban. At least, no more shame than being beaten by anybody else.”

As you can tell from that description this is a very comical game, full of characters with scowling faces, pompadours, and lots of attitude. Banchos are known to be very shibui (cool). And if you act shabai (really uncool), you are known as a shabazo. This will happen if do things like attack the innocent, destroy property, fight with a weapon, or starting a fight with another yankii without them knowing.

The game takes place during your senior trip in the city of Kyouto. But not only is your school there but schools from all around the country. Each school has a bancho and it’s your mission to find these other banchos and fight them, claiming your goal of being the top bancho in all of Japan. At the start of the trip, you declare yourself the bancho of your providence, which gets you into trouble the moment you get into the city.

The game takes place within the seven day period when your school is at Kyouto. Each day is divided into three periods: morning, afternoon, and evening. The field trips take place during the morning, which have you going to various temples and sights, but you can play hookie and wander the town if you wish. Afternoons are unscheduled and in the evenings you are confined to the hotel your school is staying at. The hud includes a clock so you always know the current time. Kyouto is broken down into many neighborhoods and it will cost you time -- and sometimes money -- to move from one to another. Various modes of transportation are there to help you move quicker rather than just walking: subway (fast, inexpensive, but only goes to a few locations), bus (slow, depending on how far you need to go can be expensive, but goes to most locations), and a taxi (fast, can go anywhere, but are very expensive).

The city is always bustling with cars and people. But it’s the yankiis you’re interested in. The easiest way to find a bancho is to find their lackeys in the streets and beat them up. If you win the fight they will drop items like food for heath and money to buy items at convenient stores or gift shops. Sometimes they will drop their school’s itinerary, which includes the day, neighborhood, and times their class will be at. This is where you will find the school’s bancho. Banchos play by “peon” rules, meaning if two banchos fight, the loser will be a peon to the winner; giving him their cell phone number. This means you can call them anytime to assist you during a fight.

Your character has stats like HP, attack, and speed which you can increase overtime and you lean new moves by wining fights. The game also includes an extra mode called “Night Out” which allows you to earn status points outside of the main game’s timeframe by walking the streets at night and fighting other curfew breaking troublemakers.

The fighting system is well done and the controls complement it too. This is essential because this is the main focus of the game -- beating dudes up! The fighting can get very repetitive and you’ll find yourself level-grinding for stat upgrades, but you should have known this before playing this game so I don’t consider this a negative on the score.

The graphics look good for being an open world 3D game on the PSP and have a lot of animation on the screen at any given time. You will meet many people in the game and each bancho has their own unique styles and every school has a different uniform that keeps things looking fresh. You can change your characters appearance anytime by going to a barber shop or a clothing store located in the mall.

Each music track in the game is very short, but they loop well and are catchy and enjoyable to listen to. As noted earlier, the city if full of activity. Cars zip along on the streets and the sidewalks and malls are full of crowds; giving you an atmosphere of a bustling city. There are also cops you need to watch out for. If they catch you acting like a shabazo, they will chase after you. If you’re caught, you get arrested.

The game has a good replay value because you can’t do everything within the confined in-game timeframe during your first time through. Your items and status will be carried over to the next playthrough which will make it easier/possible to find secrets that are scattered though the game. In addition, the game includes a tutorial mode near the beginning of the game; allowing you to understand some of the terminology and controls before the main game starts. The only negative I have is that I wished the game gave you a bio card for each bancho you defeated, including their itinerary info for quick referencing. Each bancho is quirky, funny, and unique so it would have been neat to have a card that has their picture, stats, and move chart to look at in the game. Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble is a game full of comedy, amusing dialog, and an all-around fun game that’s worth a play on your PSP.

Image credits: Giant Bomb

Posted on: February 4, 2015