The History of Kunio-kun: Go-Go! Nekketsu Hockey Club Slip-and-Slide Madness!

The History of Kunio-kun banner

It should be abundantly clear by this point that the Kunio-kun series is willing to turn its hand to pretty much anything. So far we’ve had genre-defining beat ’em ups, open-world action adventures, crazy athletics competitions, soccer games, dodgeball games and even historical period dramas. As such, the presence of an ice hockey game in the complete lineup will probably come as no surprise — and neither will its absurdly overblown complete title Go-Go! Nekketsu Hockey Club Slip-and-Slide Madness!

Much like most of the other Kunio-kun games we’ve looked at so far, Nekketsu Hockey Club (as we shall refer to it hereafter) has a narrative premise straight out of a slice-of-life anime. In this case, the Nekketsu High School hockey club is in danger of being disbanded if they don’t sort out their pitiful performance — and, of course, Kunio, being the hot-blooded type, is keen to help out, particularly after he and his dodgeball team absolutely obliterate the hockey team during a practice match.

Go-Go! Nekketsu Hockey Club Slip-and-Slide Madness!

Naturally, there’s a potential love interest involved, also — in this case, Kaori from the school’s News Club, who appears to be carrying a bit of a torch for Yoichi, leader of the hockey club, and in the original Japanese script habitually referred to the other hockey team members (whom she perceives to be holding Yoichi back from his true potential) as “tako” or “octopuses”, hence their otherwise inexplicable transformation into octopuses during the introductory story sequences.

Despite the fact that, narratively speaking, Nekketsu Hockey Club appears to be unfolding around the same time as Nekketsu High School Dodgeball Club, Kunio is keen to step in and help out the hockey club by whipping them into shape. And thus begins an epic saga of Kunio and friends once again battling their way through a series of increasingly ridiculous opponents in order to prove their worth at a sport that is very little to do with the things these characters were originally known for.

Go-Go! Nekketsu Hockey Club Slip-and-Slide Madness!

At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking Nekketsu Hockey Club is pretty much a reskin of Nekketsu High School Dodgeball Club – Soccer Story, but it doesn’t take long for the differences between the two games to make themselves apparent. Perhaps most significantly, in Nekketsu Hockey Club, you’re no longer controlling just one player on the team: this time around, your control switches automatically between team members according to who has the puck, or who is in a good position to steal the puck off their opponents.

This simple change makes the game flow rather nicely, and still provides a good feeling of “teamwork” without making you rely completely on the AI players being where you hope they’ll be. That said, the AI players are perfectly competent and will do a decent job in their own right — but with the automatic player switching mechanics you’ll tend to find yourself in control of them as soon as they wrestle the puck off an opponent.

Ice hockey is a pretty high-speed game so you’ll tend to find that Nekketsu Hockey Club is an overall higher-scoring game than Soccer Story. This is particularly apparent in the opening “training” game against the existing hockey club, where you’ll likely find yourself utterly drubbing your opponents by 40 points or more by the end of the match. Things get quite a bit more challenging from the first “proper” match, so the training game is a good opportunity to familiarise yourself with the controls while facing minimal risk.

Go-Go! Nekketsu Hockey Club Slip-and-Slide Madness!

There’s actually a decent variety of moves that you can do with just two buttons, as in most of the other Kunio-kun games. On the puck, you can pass or shoot with varying degrees of power according to how long you hold the buttons down, and you’re able to dash and dodge with double-taps of the directional controls, with certain contextual commands demanding that you dash first.

On defence, you can whack your opponents with your stick or shoulder-charge them — and since Nekketsu Hockey Club, like Soccer Story, plays fairly fast and loose with the real-life rules of the game, you can feel free to beat the crap out of the opposing goalie if you’re finding them particularly frustrating.

Like the other Kunio-kun sports games, there’s a nice feeling that the series hasn’t completely abandoned its beat ’em up roots in Nekketsu Hockey Club. You can play the game fairly cleanly if you want to — but the real fun comes if you’re willing to get a bit violent, particularly once you start facing the other opponents. The first team you play against after the training match, for example, is the kendo club — and you’d better believe they’re more than willing to make use of their kendo shinai (which they also use as hockey sticks) to give you a good pummelling if you don’t stay focused.

Go-Go! Nekketsu Hockey Club Slip-and-Slide Madness!

On top of the game’s main story mode there are, of course, multiplayer modes to enjoy the game together with up to three friends. In fact, it’s possible to play the story mode cooperatively with two people as well as have straightforward one-shot matches with two or four total players. It definitely has the potential to be a great party game — although there’s one thing that holds me back from recommending it unreservedly.

That factor is the amount of time it takes to play a game. Much like real ice hockey, Nekketsu Hockey Club divides its matches into three periods, though here they’re of three minutes each rather than the real-life twenty-minute periods. Those three minutes can drag on for quite some time, though, particularly since the clock stops every time someone scores and everyone takes a moment to set themselves up again. Indeed, with these delays, the initial training match can take a good twenty minutes to play through from start to finish — and with how easy it is compared to the rest of the game, this can feel a bit tedious after a while.

That said, as soon as the action picks up in the main story mode — or if you’re competing against friends with a similar skill level or at least enthusiasm factor to you — things get much more enjoyable, as you’ll be scoring fewer goals and thus keeping the clock ticking for longer at a time.

Go-Go! Nekketsu Hockey Club Slip-and-Slide Madness!

It’s just a bit of a shame that the main story mode is front-loaded with such an actively tedious chunk of gameplay — since the training match is effectively part of an interactive introduction sequence, it would have perhaps been better for it to be called off after just one of the three periods when it becomes clear that Kunio’s team is absolutely wiping the floor with the existing hockey club, or perhaps simply after you’ve scored a certain number of points.

This aside, though, Nekketsu Hockey Club is a fun game that it’s worth spending some time with if you’re interested in enjoying the complete Kunio-kun saga. It’s definitely worth a pop if you’ve got some friends willing to give it a go, as like most of the other Kunio-kun sports games, Nekketsu Hockey Club is very much designed to be a fun video game rather than an accurate simulation of a real-life sport. Just how I’ve always liked it.

The Double Dragon and Kunio-kun Retro Brawler Bundle is available for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.

Join The Discussion

Rice Digital Discord
Rice Digital Twitter
Rice Digital Facebook

Or write us a letter for the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page by clicking here!

Disclosure: Some links in this article may be affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on them. This is at no additional cost to you and helps support Rice Digital!

Pete Davison
Spread the love!

Related post