Natsume will release River City: Tokyo Rumble both physically and digitally later this year, the publisher told Polygon during E3 2016. The Kunio-kun series' first 3DS release to make it stateside is set to receive a limited-edition printing when it launches later this year, although that wasn't always the case.
"[Tokyo Rumble] was going to be digital-only," Graham Markay, Netsuke's vice president of operations, said. "You don't have to sell to retail or try to explain or try to get the physical product placed on store shelves [with online exclusive releases]. That gives you the ability to take a few more chances."
Natsume had already taken a chance by localizing the game, which first launched in Japan in 2013. The publisher's relationship with rights holder Arc System Works, and producer Taka Maekawa's own fondness for the classic beat-em-ups, led to an arrangement between the two companies to bring back the Kunio-kun games. That's despite the fact that Western audiences hadn't played a new entry in the series in quite some time.
"It really reminds me of my elementary school years"
But there are still people who love these games, Maekawa and Markay insisted, themselves included.
"It really reminds me of my elementary school years," Maekawa said about the 30-year-old Kunio-kun series, which includes games like Renegade, Super Dodge Ball and River City Ransom. "That game was released in the U.S. a long time ago, but there should [still] be diehard fans."
These are the people Natsume heard from most loudly when it announced Tokyo Rumble this past spring.
"When we announced [Tokyo Rumble], there was an outcry of, ‘It better be physical,'" Markay said. "So we're going to do a limited edition physical release."
There's still no release date for Tokyo Rumble, which adds role-playing game elements alongside the familiar side-scrolling action. It will launch sometime later this year, just in time for Renegade's 30th anniversary.
Correction: One of the best known River City games is River City Ransom, not "Rampage." The text above has been corrected.