The kids are all right! But they can't draw too well…
Weirdness is afoot, no doubt about it. The rather sappily-named Twinkle Gang, on their school holidays, discovers a box of magic crayons. Evil big brother Val then nicks the crayons and discovers that anything drawn with them comes to life. Rather than doodle his own versions of the Penthouse Pets, he draws an evil bloke in a cloak who goes around stirring up trouble. This being a bad thing, the gang use their own crayons to draw superheroes who can defeat the menace. Just another typical day at The Ridings.
Rakuga Kids is, as you can probably tell, not aimed at the Turok 2 crowd. It's probably exactly what Nintendo had in mind for their console all along - a cheerful, friendly, non-violent game. Well, non-violent apart from the punching and the scratching and the hey-hey-hey, but then even Mario advocates genocide for the Koopas.
The controls should bring a smile of recognition to fans of the Street Fighter series - three punch buttons and three kick buttons, each of varying strength. The similarities pretty much end there, though, since Rakuga Kids relies on skill and timing about as much as Jeremy Beadle relies on personal magnetism. Occasionally, hitting a punch button might produce an actual punch, but more often than not it brings about the appearance of trumpets, meteors, basketballs, gatling guns or bubbles of snot.
Adding a bit of spice are the super moves. Again, like the more recent Street Fighter games, these are earned by building up a power bar - well, more of a crayon squiggle - at the bottom of the screen. Once the bar is fully charged and a crayon becomes available, a quick tap of R unleashes a massive attack. This being a mad game, the attacks range from bouncing adversaries between a pair of huge speaker stacks to dropping an elephant-type thing on their heads.
Rakuga Kids is good fun for younger players, since it's fast, loud, colourful and even occasionally funny. On the downside, it's not particularly difficult, and the ease of pulling off special attacks removes a lot of skill from the game. Like nearly all N64 beat-'em-ups, random button bashing usually gets better results than biding your time for that perfect knockout blow. Hardcore fighting fans who are used to the tactical play of Street Fighter, Tekken or Virtua Fighter will sneer so hard they'll end up looking like Klingons.
Still, Rakuga Kids is good for some short-lived entertainment, and it's almost infinitely better than the game it most closely resembles, Clayfighter. If you feel like livening up your life with some gaudy colours, blaring music and truly demented attacks, you could do worse than give Rakuga Kids a try.
2nd rating opinion
This game is brilliant! I don't care what anyone says, it's highly amusing and bloody good fun. Presumably it's aimed at younger kids, but the jokes and gameplay will appeal to gamers of all ages. Whatever else you do, don't miss this game!
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The most adorable characters in the world scrap it out in this 2D graffiti-'em-up. Far too cute for its own good, but fun nonetheless.
Cute Street Fighter-esque 2D fighter. Not to everyone's taste.
After the hordes of testosterone enhanced/silicon implanted US scrappers this came as a breath of fresh beat-'em-up air. Okay, so it's not going to worry Namco or Capcom (at all) but out of all the N64 fighting games this is the only one that I'd keep coming back to.
Well, why not? Beat-'em-ups that try and make you believe you're a Mystical Warrior competing in the Ancient Tournament of Toecheese just bore me to tears. Give me a cuddly bear who blows snot bubbles out of his nose and I'm as happy as a wiggle-bottomed crayon thing.
Because it's mad, quite frankly. And Beartank is just so cute, blowing snot bubbles out of his nose and falling asleep. Much like Tim after his post-lunch pie, actually. Or at any other time.
Fighting games, eh? Not really my thing. However, Rakuga Kids definitely won me over. Rotating chickens, a character called Captain Catkit - who grows a large afro and entertains with a quick tune on his maracas - and Mamezo's cute bottom wiggle. Crazy stuff!