As the 32-bit era burst on the scene, an old fan favorite genre went by the wayside. At least for the most part it did
One thing was certain: the ''beat 'em up'' genre was no longer a flooded class
With Nekketsu Oyako, released in summer of '95, "Tecno Soft" attempted to bring back the good old days one more time. But is it a trip down memory lane we'd like to take? Or avoid like a dark stairway filled with beastly growls?
Yes, the Thunder Force people...
LIFE'S FUNNY SOMETIMES
Good ole N.O. I still remember sniping this eBay auction on November 15, 2002. Thanks to this game and Tetris S, I became obsessed with buying and playing the lesser known Saturn games. I realized there was much more on offering than the Radiant Silverguns, NiGHTS and Guardian Heroes of the world
The really crazy thing is the seller I won this game from, Kent "Don't Call Me Brockman"... is actually the friend of RVG who now supplies me with SEGA Saturn screenshots. We're talking almost six years ago now; Kent and I still kicking around the ole corner. I remember November 15, 2002 rather well. I actually cancelled a night out with some friends because I wanted to stay home to snipe the auction. Oyako I discovered a couple months prior and finally one day in early November I saw Kent put the game up. In the end, it cost me about $15 and was well worth it. Many years ago, Nekketsu Oyako was quite an obscure Saturn beat 'em up. But thanks to the word being spread around, and I'll happily take partial credit for it, it's no longer as obscure as it once was. It's sometimes known as "Hot Blooded Family" and also came out for the PlayStation. Yes, it's made by the same company who made Thunder Force III
Naturally, I had high expectations. Were they met?
BACK TO THE FUTURE
The interesting thing about Oyako is that it takes place in the year 2064, yet oddly enough, the whole game seems as though it occurs in an alternate universe in the '80s. Hmm, maybe the year 2064 will be like the '80s all over again
[Girl you know it's true! Ooh ooh ooh, I LOVE YOU! -Ed.]
We love Rio indeed
MEET THE GOOD GUYS (AND GAL)
Typical strong older guy, young all-around chap and your quick-but- weak female. Guys have 11 stars, girl 10. Feminists need not apply!
He's got a big punch that will put a big hurtin' on the opposition. Unfortunately it lacks in range and looks rather awkward
His jumping roundhouse kick can clear a house of boxers in no time flat!
Rando's special move sees him pounding the ground with impressive force, unleashing a flaming attack that catches any unlucky fool in a 300 foot radius, or at least 5 feet anyhow!
She can swing her croquet mallet-like weapon and clear a group of thugs -- very handy
By raising her croquet mallet in the air, she sends forth a lethal wave of energy, taking out anyone caught in its path
Terry Bo, um, I mean, TORA, has got this lovely little kick-slash combo!
Tora's... ahem... "Power Geyser" is every bit impressive as it is effective
This 2D brawler has a lot of trademark features that harkens back to classics like the Streets of Rage games. For example, when you fight enemies, their energy bar will pop up under yours. Also, along the journey will be food to consume and weapons to take advantage of. It's a nice touch that only Rando can consume the alcoholic beverage as Rio and Tora are both underaged. Try to, and you'll be denied. Nice
The weapons include bombs, bazookas (only big Rando can use the bazooka), rifles, machine guns, daggers, and my personal favorite: the sharp disc. It works like a boomerang and gives new meaning to the phrase, ''It slices! It dices!!''
Sometimes weapons will be lying in the open. Other times you'll have to destroy barrels, crates, or ye ole colorful vending machines to unveil them
The enemies and bosses in this game are OK. Some designs are decent; others are borderline laughable. There are 5 stages total. Loading times are good and slowdown only occurs in a few sections of the game. Nothing too bad though
What really disappointed me was that there was no real "Andore" or "Abobo" clone. The closest is "VanDamme" -- a somewhat tall (but not towering) bald freak wielding a spiked chainball He's no Andore or Abobo!
Low-end enemies consist of weird looking foot soldiers wearing masks, orange pants and sporting the boxing gloves. There's one pretty cool enemy named "Freddy." He is a cross between Freddy Krueger, Jason Vorhees, and boogeyman Michael Myers. He has Myers' hair and clothes, Jason's mask, and Freddy's claws. Tough bastard
The bosses are a little disappointing as well. Stage 1 and 2 bosses were meh. Stage 3 had a cool throwback boss though -- big, burly and just a bully of a man. I wished the bosses were more like him, and not like the bland female boss of stage one
"Sorry toots, but yer forgettable"
In stage 5 you go through all four bosses again before meeting the final boss. Stage 5 is very cool. The battle with Hammer there is a memorable one. If the owner doesn't kill the cow... the saws will!
Here's a look at the first two levels
"Me Rando! ME SMASH!"
Apparently, they still sell SEGA Saturns in the year 2064. In classic beat 'em up fashion, you can bust those cars. Also, low-end baddies come crashing out of the glass windows in the store
Talk about window shopping!
You can nab SEGA Saturn icons for extra points
As you make your way from out of the shopping center, night falls. Those two huge lights come from a chopper whose sole mission in life is to bring yours to an end!
Hey, this reminds me of...
Hmmm, familiar, much? This scene from Go Go Ackman 3 (Go Go Ackman Trilogy) reminds me heavily of the one from Nekketsu Oyako! Both based loosely off a real locale, perhaps?
Nikita is the first boss you face. Female bosses in beat 'em ups are not rare by any stretch of the imagination, but they don't often appear as the first boss, that's for sure. Give Nikita the ole boot as you dance around the firepower of the chopper
"Chew on some of this, biatch!"
Stage two sees you being swallowed into the pit of a whale's stomach!
Pretty unique stuff. Watch out for those pesky blobmen!
A Boy and His Blob this is not!
What beat 'em up worth its salt would be without the "run in, toss grenade and hightail it" enemies?
Somewhere, Holly Wood's smiling
Pretty soon the whale decides it's had enough of you bouncing around inside tossing baddies at its sides like a pinball richocheting off a hot corner...
... and so it spits you out!
Boss two, a karate master of sorts, confronts you here. Three more levels await after this one, with some more wild locales, including an amusement park roller coaster. The final boss is WTF material and must be seen to be believed...
Where's Free Willy when ya need him?
BREAKIN' IT DOWN
They resemble the Final Fight games more than Streets of Rage. It has a cartoony look, not a gritty one. Some animation is extremely lackluster. The game just doesn't have trademark A-Class animation. Especially Rando's moves; the animation on them is quite awkward-looking at first. The throws are also lacking animation. However, attention to detail is very nice in some areas. Knocked down poles will break into segmented pieces. Statues broken will shatter apart and cars demolished will flip wildly in the air with tires flying every which way. The flames look pretty nice. More cool details -- on the second stage, you'll see some sort of fish swimming in the water beneath you, nice touch. Although the artwork could have been better
Overall, the graphics could be improved, but they're not a complete eye sore and the details are there. The backgrounds are your typical beat em up fare, though with some strange spices thrown in, like the battle on the roller coaster or the battle inside the whale's stomach. All in all, the graphics just scream 16-bit. The Saturn's 2D graphic powerhorse probably didn't even break a sweat here
[Terry Bogard meets Haohmaru? -Ed.]
Sound is a mixed bag. Some great sound effects are present, like Rando's explosive and loud super special, but then you have areas where the game doesn't register any sound effects at all, which is very disappointing and uncalled for in a 32-bit game. (e.g. the sharp disc attack, I wish it made some sort of slicing sound as it juggles its victims. But no, there's just silence as it cuts through enemies, what a shame)
The music was fairly adequate. Maybe a little too relaxed sounding at times, but nonetheless there are some nice beats in the soundtrack. I noticed that when you pause the game, the soundtrack restarts when you unpause it
Enemies have decent ''death cries''
But nothing that you will really remember
I have no major complaints. These type of games usually have simple controls anyhow. Only thing is the item/icon issue. Sometimes there are too many icons lying near one another and in the heat of battle, as I press attack with intention to whack the enemy, my character will bend down to pick up the item/icon and get nailed in the process. Too bad they didn't make use of the extra buttons on the Saturn controller. Perhaps this lies in the gameplay issue more than the controls, however You have extra buttons, why not use 'em?
Nothing special. You've seen it before. The various weapons scattered about help keep the action somewhat fresh but it can get a little repetitive. On the higher difficulties, the CPU AI can be a pain
The ability to juggle the enemies and also hit them while they're lying down lends a breath of fresh air. The boss fights were a little too easy. Each of the 3 characters have a decent combination of moves
Is it a shallow game? Yes. Is it linear? Of course.
You pretty much should know what to expect coming in. People either like these games or don't. I fall in the former category and feel Nekketsu Oyako's gameplay is decent enough, but nothing really worth writing home about
Replay Value: 6
Like many others in this genre, this is not a game I'll play every week. It's best in small doses. Although there are only 5 levels, the game is long, takes roughly 50 minutes to beat. It's something you might pull out every now and then. Then again, you might not, after beating the game 4 or 5 times
Fun Factor: 7
Sometimes it's just fun to beat up anything that moves. What I enjoy most about this game is that it doesn't always take itself seriously (look no further than the squid enemies with boxing gloves)
Nekketsu Oyako didn't set out to be the genre defining game, and that's OK. It is what it is
"Go ahead... make my day!"
I feel that Nekketsu Oyako had a lot of potential. Some areas were filled in adequately while others left a small to large gap. Better graphics and better sound would have been great. Also I must say this game doesn't feel very impactful. The punches you deliver to enemies don't feel very crisp or have that ''OOMPH!'' impact. I found that disappointing
But personally, seeing as these types of games are sparse on the Saturn, I'm not going to complain all that much. Nekketsu Oyako lived up to my expectations as a semi-competent 2D beat 'em up that doesn't do the genre disgrace. If you're a fan of this old genre and can find a copy for $20 or so, it's worth picking up
Just don't expect too much
Think Final Fight clone with a touch of "Parodius bastardization" and you pretty much have... Nekketsu Oyako!
Special thanks to YAKUMO for cover scan and Kent R. for screen grabs