Gekido: Kintaro’s Revenge Nintendo Switch Review by SwitchWatch
Developer: Naps Team
Publisher: Naps Team
Release Date: March 22nd 2018
Price as of Article: £11.46 GBP
Sometimes life can throw up the most oddest of surprises. I can surely bet that no one would have possibly imagined that a forgotten 15 year old beat ‘em up on the Game Boy Advance would find a new home on the Nintendo Switch. Well, it has. Gekido Kintaro’s Revenge is back from the dead to breath new life on Nintendo’s new system. The Gekido series was a short lived double entry from Naps Team, first on the PlayStation and then on the Game Boy Advance. And in all honesty, I have zero recollection of either of them existing. So I’m obviously perfectly placed to see how it stacks up today without being tainted by nostalgia.
The story tells the short tale of Tetsuo, summoned by his teacher to investigate strange happenings in a faraway village. Zombies. Yes, zombies have risen and have decimated the small locale. As he investigates the strange goings on he’ll come across a variety of interesting folk who may either help him, or hinder him.
While not an especially interesting story, indeed some would say rather superfluous, I do appreciate the attempt at story telling with its cinematic cutscenes. They have an almost noir feel to them and even though they are rather short and abrupt, I like it. It tries, which is not something you can always say for the genre, especially one this old.
In the audio department you have a choice between the original score or a new updated one. While both are effective and suit the game well, I do think there is an air of repetition to the soundtrack overall. There doesn’t seem to be too many tracks which is a shame. There’s not much more to say in this department. The sound effects are also somewhat repetitive in the fact that your character’s “Hya!” when he attacks, is rather annoying after hearing it over and over again.
Graphically the game has a really nice sprite-work look to it and is very much in keeping with the original release. Sprites are huge and detailed, almost like you’d find in a late Neo Geo fighting game and that’s really commendable considering this is technically a Game Boy Advance game. For the time this must have looked amazing on the small handheld screen.
What I do love about retro re-releases is options and, like the audio before it, Gekido has a nice amount when it comes to the visual department. For a start you can choose to have the original cutscenes play or the new ones. Here’s a quick comparison:
I personally prefer the new one even if there is a certain charm to the originals. I just prefer the character art, everybody looks less… weird.
There’s also a couple of display options, you can stretch the screen, add a filter and so on. Personally I just stuck with the original options as I felt it looked better.
Looking at the screenshots or combat you may think the gameplay is a standard beat ‘em up affair; beating the stuffing out of the zombies who oppose you. While there are very strong elements of something a bit standard, Gekido does go a few steps further with its ambition is certain areas. For a start, the afore-mentioned cutscenes and story elements bring a cinematic nature to it, plus the exploration side of the game make it stand out as not your average side-scrolling beat ‘em up.
You don’t just move left to right, you have some semblance of freedom as you explore the basic environments. You can enter buildings, climb or descend on ladders and even take part in a bit of platforming. I’m sure this has been done before in beat ‘em ups before, but for me it’s actually nice and refreshing. Even though this kind of freedom is basically a facade, it did its job and made me feel much less restricted.
As you walk around the environments you’ll find people to talk with, items to pick up such as keys to unlock doors that are elsewhere. It’s simple, but nice. I appreciate the adventure aspect to it.
What you really want to know, as beat ‘em up fans, is about the combat. The punching, the kicking, the combos and the throws and I think Gekido does a decent job in keeping it simple enough without making it boring. There are a few different moves you can do using the two available attack buttons. Yes, two. From a Game Boy Advance game, they decided to keep it authentic in that regard and so are limited to a punch and kick which can be used to create different attacks depending in different input methods. Now, I will tell you a flaw that has always plagued me as a gamer. In these fisticuff beat ‘em ups and straight up fighting games, I’m a bit of a button masher which does take away some of my authority from what it truly has to offer to hardcore beat ‘em up fans.
If you press both A and B together at the same time you’ll unless an all encompassing panic attack that knocks most enemies away while dealing a little bit of damage. It’s not over powered which I like, and it’s not so difficult to get, which I also like. You’ll have it available every few seconds which is great and I found I used it a lot. In fact it does have its tactical uses against some of the more trickier enemies.
It’s a pretty short game if you know what you’re doing. As long as you don’t get a game over from the small amount of continues you’ll probably have eaten the story mode up in about 2 hours. For me, I did find it a little on the difficult side, mainly because it does have a lot of cheapness to it, similar to those found in arcade games: Enemies popping out of nowhere, traps slamming down out of the unknown, fighting against faster, more capable foes. First time players will get caught out so many times like I did and, although they did help me learn the game much better, I can’t help but feel the game was overall quite an annoyance rather than fun.
The gameplay as a whole is simple and interesting, although it may test your patience with a plenty of cheap moments often found in the genre.
Outside of the main story mode, Naps Team have gone the extra mile to include more stuff for you to get your money’s worth out of it. There’s a basic Survival Mode which I’m never really keen on unless it has some depth to it, of which this doesn’t. Then there’s the far more intriguing Relic Hunter Mode which is a rogue-like experience as you traverse through procedurally generated levels finding items to collect. I found this to be just as entertaining as the main game to be honest and I enjoying battling in the unknown, rummaging around for relics. Both of these extra games and the story mode can be played with 2 people and in my opinion, that’s always the best way to go for a beat ‘em up.
As for value, it’s a retro re-release which is a surprisingly rich market on the Switch even if Nintendo themselves aren’t getting in the action too much. We have both Hamster and Zerodiv pulling out the arcade classics on a weekly basis and Gekido is almost double the price of those at £11.46. Sure, it’s a little more than a port, in fact much more work has gone into this than probably a dozen of the retro arcade releases put together, but I still feel the price should have been nearer to them than what it is.
Relic Hunt is a nice addition
Cheap beginner traps