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PSP Review – Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble

December 4, 2009Written by Cameron Teague

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A Bancho is a fighter, someone who fights for honor, respect, and admiration. That is what you are in the Atlus game Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble. Talk trash, fight and be an overall badass in this trek through the prefectures of Japan. But does this game have what it takes to be the biggest Bancho of them all?

The game starts you out by having you make your own Bancho.  You are given the option of which prefecture to represent, your school name, and your character name, although these options never affect the gameplay.  The story revolves around you, a high school badass whose class is going on a field trip.  On this trip, you start your mission to become the biggest, baddest bancho in Japan.  The story is moved along with cutscenes between you and your classmates, and sleeping at the local inn passes time by one day.  The Inn also acts as your base of operations, giving you access to edit and customize whatever you need.

To reach the top, you must search out the other banchos and take them out, proving that you are the toughest.  To find the other banchos, you must first seek out the peons roaming around the different prefectures.  Once you find a group of them, you can either initiate a stare down with one or just go right into kicking the crap out of them.  After a stare down, you will be shown some trash talk that you need to remember.  You will then need to pick the correct button to match the three parts of the trash talk in the order they were said in.  If this is done correctly, you will land the first strike, and the fight is on.  After the fight, you will find yen, items, and most importantly, itineraries, on the ground.  These itineraries can be used to see the schedule of fellow banchos to better track them down.


With so much emphasis on fighting in the game, one would hope that the fighting would be well fleshed out, but sadly it’s not.  The fighting feels very slow and robotic and facing off against multiple enemies can be a chore.  You have a light and strong attack, with the ability to hold down each attack for a more powerful version.  You can also grab enemies, throw them, jump on them and pick up weapons to use in fights.  As you fight through the game and defeat other banchos, you will earn yourself new peons to use in battle.  Only one can be called up and used at a time, though none of them are that great and end up getting in the way more than they help. 

You must pay attention to your heart and your spirit after these fights.  As a bancho, you want your heart to stay happy and manly, and with a high spirit your attacks do more.  If you find your spirit low, you can hold O and X to recharge it.  Through these fights you also gain banchosity to use to upgrade your character’s speed, attack, defense, HP and endurance.  With each level you gain, you will also learn new moves that you can assign to your character and make your attacks more powerful.

With the yen you collect in battles, you can purchase new clothes, weapons, and food for your character.  The clothes that can be purchased include new shirts, hats, pants, shoes, and more. Different clothes have different amounts of pockets, which affect how many items you can carry.  Despite this limitation, if you find something important, the game usually gives you the option to send it to the inn that you are staying at.  You also use yen to travel around the city by bus or subway.  These are ideal ways of getting around to different prefectures and looking for the perfect fight to boost your level.  There are plenty of places to visit, as the game area is rather large, and at times it can be difficult to remember exactly where you should be heading and how to get there.  Some areas are not accessible directly by bus or train, so you have to remember where to go, which can be a huge chore.


Along your travels, you will find plenty of civilians walking around.  You can either leave these people alone or give them a badass stare.  If you do the stare, most of them will panic and run, which can sometimes cause them to drop some extra yen on the ground.  Text messages will be sent to you during the day that will provide helpful hints on where you might find other banchos or tips on store locations.  Other hints will be given after story fights, where the peons you have defeated will spill juicy hints on their boss’s whereabouts.

The game looks fairly good on the PSP.  There are a lot of environments to take in, though not many of the buildings are detailed in each area; only the ones you need seem to stand out.  The character models look pretty good on the main characters, but the peons and townspeople are all duplicated many times.  Load screens are pretty humorous, as you are treated to Bancho 101 tips, giving you insight into the world of the bancho.  Menus are easy to navigate through, and conversations during the game are done through text boxes with mumbles from each character as they are talking.

Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble is a fun trip through the lives of a high school bancho.  There is plenty of Atlus humor throughout the game, with the best parts coming during the smash talking right before combat.  The presentation and comedy in the game is top notch; it’s just too bad that the main parts of the game, exploration and combat, feel incredibly rigid and tedious.  If you can look past these shortcomings, however, you should find yourself with plenty to do in a surprisingly deep game.  Fans of beat ’em ups and Atlus may find a gem here, but otherwise this punch may have missed its mark.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

Clunky and outdated combat

Excellent customization options

Good sense of humor

6 out of 10