Fighting games live and die by the community that they build. If there is a strong online presence and an active community than there is a strong chance that the game will continue to be played years after the initial release. For new players, jumping into an online match and playing with others is where a majority of the fun comes from and when that isn’t avaliliable, the game runs the risk of being put down for good, no matter how solid the gameplay is. Unfortunately, that is a risk the genre runs and The Rumble Fish 2 has fallen victim to this. The time I spent playing the multitude of modes was fun but there was no pay off.
The story here follows several characters as they progress through an torunament held by an illigal fight club. With a multitude of characters to play through, Arcade mode alone is worth running through. I spent a lot of my time practicing the systems here since the CPU was capable of putting up a decent fight. This was also how I found my favorite character to play with, a simple fighter named Aran. After running through his story in arcade mode, I figured it was time to move on to the next best thing. Survival mode.
With a plethora of modes to play through, it is important to know that The Rumble Fish 2 has a pretty decent roster to enjoy for newcomers to the series. I had no prior experience with this game so seeing 3 character slots for DLC characters wasn’t too bad. Upon doing a little research though, it seems those DLC characters were previously available in the first title so it is a little disappointing to see them locked behind the paywall. This may not matter to new players but is something returning players might want to take note of, especially if it was one of their favorites.
Each character has their own unique moves and systems so there is something for everyone. A character can trigger an effect that allows them a set amount of time with their special ability. Some are able to heal themselves during this time frame while others take advantage of the extra damage boost. Aran, my main character, had an after shadow that followed up my moves with the previous move. This meant I was dealing out twice the damage if I could get my attacks to connect.
The visuals found here are reminiscent of old school 2-D fighters. I reviewed this on the Nintendo Switch OLED and found that the sprite work looked wonderful on the colorful screen. There is an option to switch on a scan line setting that gives the feeling of playing on an older monitor and this drove home that old school feeling. The animations are smooth and each characters limbs seemed to move on their own, which was a little jarring at first but grew on me over time. This allowed each movement to feel fluid and connect without making the models look stiff or out of place when attacking. As fights continue to progress, you are able to perform part breaks which will inflight cosmetic damage to characters. Some characters will lose articles of clothing while others will see their faces begin to swell from the constant beating they receive. This was a fun little mechanic to notice during each fight and I often found myself proud of the matches that ended with me in perfect condition while my opponents were left bruised and beaten.
Each stage is wonderfully designed and does a good job of being colorful without being too distracting. Fighting games have to have a fine balance so that players don’t loose focus on the fight or have their attention pulled away but all the stages found here fit perfectly within the games world while also being easy on the players. Stage music is also pretty catchy but there were no tracks that really stood out. The overall presentation here is alright and dosen’t pull away from the action too much.
With Arcade mode and Survival mode knocked out, I was feeling extremely confident in my skills so the next step was to take those skills online and find out where I stood amongst the other players. This is where my experience began to fall apart. Over the course of a week, I tried multiple times to find matches online and would wait upwards to 3 minutes just for an error to occur. I am unsure if this is a problem with North American servers or if there is a lack of a player base here but this really ruined the game for me. All the time I spent practicing with my characters amounted to nothing since there was no way for me to test my skills against other players. While there is a local versus mode, it was hard to convince friends to try out a new game when we had already established our routine games. This just shows the importance of the online presence and community. While I could probably find Discord groups to join and organize matches, That same amount of work could be put into me booting up a game that has a thriving community and would put me in matches right away.
Another issue that I found during my time might be a minor one over all but was one that I found bothersome enough to point out. Each character has their own personality and quirks that they bring to the table, which is expected in a game with a decent sized roster. It is important for players to be able to find a character they like and making characters different from one another helps create this space for players to find a fitting match. The Rumble Fish 2 has a great cast ranging from a fighting nurse to a kid carrying a paint brush. One character is a kid-swordsman who wears an eyepatch and has an interesting mechanic where she is able to switch stances during the fight. The issue I have was found when I finished my match against her with Aran. Being a typical womanizer, he makes a ton of comments in regards to not wanting to fight a woman or how he has no issue fighting men but struggles when it comes to fighting women.
After his fight with the child though, he says “can’t wait to see how you look in ten years. Hope you can leave the violence behind” which is extremely inappropriate to say to a kid. Since none of their ages are given in any of the information found in game, it is hard to gauge how old each character is but the character this is told to looks like a child so this is upsetting. Aran also seems to grope some of the women at the end of the match, rushing over to the them and crouching down after making suggestive hand gestures. While I enjoyed his play style, it was hard to like the character due to these moments.
Overall, I would love to say that The Rumble Fish 2 is worth picking up but with an online community that appears to be non existent and some character issues, it is hard to recommend., For those looking for a fun survival and arcade experience, there is a lot to be found here. If you have a group that is looking for some fun local matches, there is enough variety between the characters to make for some fun matchups. For those looking to play this online though? It is important to know that finding a match might be harder than any fight you are able to find.